Chapter 3.

The Object of each Gospel

We come now to take up each Gospel with reference to the special object for which it was written, so far as we may be enabled to gather that object without going into a more detailed study of the entire book, which will occupy us later on.

Several questions will serve as heads for our investigation here. We will ask:
First: How is our Lord presented in each Gospel?
Second: What is the nature of His death in each?
Third: What is the character of His Resurrection?
Fourth: What is the general theme in harmony with these?

1. The Manner in which our Lord is Presented

There have been several biographies of prominent historical persons, taking up special phases of their lives. We could easily conceive, for instance, of a biography of General Washington as a military commander, another of him as President, another of his personal life and characteristics, and still another devoted to his career after his retirement from public life.

We could thus easily have four lives of a prominent character prepared by four biographers, in which the details would be arranged with special reference to the object in view. Several lives of the Earl of Shaftesbury might thus be written. One of these would give his personal life and characteristics, with special reference to his family connections. Another might dwell more upon details of his life in connection with his estates and the administration of his private affairs. In this, his kindness to his tenants, with acts of private benevolence and so on, would find a large place. A third might be with special reference to his public, philanthropic work; while a fourth narrative would give the record of his public services in the House of Lords.

It is quite evident that each of these narratives would have certain special characteristics. The same individual would be described in each, but with special reference to the immediate object of the biographer. Thus, in the narrative of his personal life, his family genealogy would be traced and its various connections with other prominent families. Narratives of a more intimate and personal character, which would hardly be suitable in the account of his more public services, would here find a place. For instance, his hospitality, his approachability, would be dwelt upon; and so it would be in each of the other narratives respectively.

We would find some facts perhaps common to all four biographies, but each looked at with special reference to the object of the narrator, and given a greater or less prominence according to that object. Thus, all matters relating to benevolence would naturally have mention in all four biographies, for it formed the prominent characteristic of the Earl. The biographer of his personal life would recall his interest in the Sunday Closing movement as marking his strong religious convictions and personal interest in relieving the poor. The narrator of his public acts of benevolence would throw all this into the form of committee work and other public efforts which resulted in this outcome; while his Parliamentary life would give a report of his speeches with reference to the particular laws which led up to and accompanied the entire movement.

When we come to the Life of all lives, we find this same natural, simple method pursued by the inspired narrators.

The Presentation of Christ in Matthew

The Gospel of Matthew presents our Lord evidently in connection with the Hebrew nation, and more particularly as King of the Jews. Thus we find His genealogy is given from Abraham on through David to Joseph, the lineal, legal heir to the throne of David. Our Lord is here presented as the Son of Abraham and Son of David. As the Son of Abraham, He is linked with Israel as a whole — we might add, with the whole house of faith as well — and as Son of David, He is more particularly connected with those promises of kingship which God made to David: "Once have I sworn by My holiness, that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me" (Ps. 89:35-36).

It was under the rule of such a King that the glorious promises made to Abraham with reference to his seed according to the flesh and to all the earth, were to be fulfilled. "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, And from the river unto the ends of the earth … the kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents … yea, all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him" (Ps. 72:8–11).

Matthew 1 establishes thus His connection with both these progenitors; Matt. 2, in the visit of the wise men, gives a foreshadow of the tribute of the nations being brought to Him as predicted in the psalm we have just quoted; while our Lord's being brought up at Nazareth links Him with the remnant of the nation and gives a hint of the rejection which followed. Bethlehem, the place of His birth, speaks of His being the Son of David, and Nazareth of His being the rejected Prophet of Israel.

At Matthew 3 we enter upon what is the great theme of Matthew's Gospel — the Kingdom of Heaven — and we see here how all is subordinate to the King. In John the Baptist we have the forerunner of the King who announces the approach of the kingdom, and at our Lord's baptism, with what follows, we have the anointing and recognition of the King by Heaven.

Matthew 4 gives us the King subjected to the most rigorous tests at the hands of the great opposer to His kingly authority, Satan. No one who preceded our Lord in the royal line of David had met such assaults and come off unscathed. David the king himself had fallen before far less efforts of the enemy, and no one who succeeded him reached even as high as he. The righteous Ruler over men, ruling in the fear of God, could only thus be seen in the person of Him who was the fulfilment of all prophecy and prediction.

This brings us to notice what is a marked characteristic of Matthew. He presents our Lord so frequently as the Fulfiller of the words of the prophet. We find thus a characteristic expression, as will be noticed later, "That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet."

The King being thus announced by His herald, and Himself following on with a like testimony, we next have (Matt. 5-7), the great principles of His kingdom enunciated. These form, we might say, the organic constitution of His kingdom, furnishing the principles upon which He will administer His government. The kingdom is seen to be, therefore, primarily a spiritual one in which all that is contrary to the mind of God as expressed in the law, is rejected. Indeed, we cannot fail to see the correspondence between the law given in the ten commandments and its enlargement, application, and enforcement, as given in the sermon on the mount.

The first was God's great charter for Israel,we might say, the constitution of a theocracy over the earthly people. The other is likewise a constitution, but reaching now not merely to the outward acts, but to the inward springs of conduct and judging these as unsparingly as the outward infractions of a statute.

Matthew 8 and 9 give, the outward proofs of our Lord's fitness for His kingly position. Here indeed are royal works by which the sufferers in His kingdom, those oppressed by the devil and with maladies resulting from their own sin and folly, are alike delivered and healed by the power of One who is not merely King, but infinitely more.

These, with Matthew 10, give us a glimpse at the tender heart of the King. As He looked out over His domain and yearned to bring to the knowledge of His poor and afflicted subjects, the blessed fact of His nearness, He would show them what the true King is and fulfil for them more than their fondest hopes had ever dreamed, but on the indispensable condition of repentance and obedience to Him. Chapter 10 more particularly shows us the messengers of the King who carry the news of His approach to all His subjects.

Matthew 11 shows us the shadow which already had begun to fall athwart our Lord's royal progress. It was no easy path for Him to the throne. The condition of the nation and of the world at large made sure His rejection, of which we have intimations in chapter II, and which from this point becomes more manifest until the gloom deepens into the blackness of the cross. Even John has questions whether this is the true King of Israel; and our Lord, while most delicately and secretly rebuking his unbelief, bears witness to the people of his loyalty and faithfulness amid all the abounding unbelief. None but those enlightened of the Father will come to Him, but to all such, babes in their own eyes and in the eyes of the world, He reaches out the inviting hand of love: "Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

Matthew 12 brings to an acute stage the question of the Sabbath, which was always a sore point with the formalists. The Sabbath, as we find from the Old Testament, was indeed a special mark of God's covenant relation with His people;* but it presupposed a people who had preserved their right to consider themselves the chosen of the Lord by obedience to His commands. We will find, when we come to the Gospel of John, that this Sabbath question is treated by our Lord from a somewhat different point of view than in the synoptists, perhaps more particularly than in Matthew itself. The religious leaders accuse our Lord's disciples, and impliedly the Lord Himself, of violating the Sabbath by doing that which was allowed in the law, but which only the foolish traditions of man had prohibited. The enmity and opposition of the Jews therefore was raised to an acute point by the Lord's ignoring the Pharisees' rigid Sabbatarianism — by which He implied failure on their part to manifest themselves as having any right to be considered as the chosen nation. This question brings matters to an issue.

{*See Leviticus, Isaiah and Ezekiel.}

The Pharisees, with their blasphemous accusation of satanic power in our Lord, expose themselves to the awful warning of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost for which there can be no forgiveness. Those who would ascribe to the devil the evident power of God manifested before their eyes are in danger of what can never be forgiven — ascribing thus with open eyes the works of the Spirit of God to Satan. They are calling light, darkness, and good, evil.

The King is thus rejected by the responsible leaders, and in Matthew 13 we have the kingdom described as it has existed during the rejection of its King. It is as though He would show how, during His absence, there would be a mixed condition even in that which made a profession of subjection to Himself.

Matthew 14 continues the works of the King. He is not exactly a fugitive, but occupies a place quite different from what we have in the earlier part of the Gospel. A false king, Herod, is seen here; the true One, however, is feeding His hungry subjects with something more than the bread which perisheth, and bringing them through storms other than those which fell upon the Sea of Galilee.

Matthew 15 dwells with some detail upon the punctilious follies of the Pharisees, whose outward life was so contradictory to their inward heart; and, in contrast with their formalism, gives us a glimpse of the heart of God going out now beyond the lost sheep of the house of Israel, even to the Gentiles.

Matthew 16 carries us on to Gentile ground, and in Peter's great confession of who the King is, "the Christ, the Son of the living God," we have the foundation of something more than the kingdom — of that Church which is not revealed in Matthew, save to show us that upon which it rests, and against which the gates of hades cannot prevail.

In Matthew 17 we see the King in His beauty, associated with the great witnesses of His glory, the law and the prophets. The glory, though displayed, is not for all. The nation in unbelief knew not the time of their visitation, and as our Lord comes down from the mountain, the satanic oppression of the people is manifested. A day is coming when the King of glory will deliver His oppressed people as a whole.

Matthew 18 emphasizes that lowly, childlike spirit without which none can enter the kingdom — the spirit which indeed was manifested by our Lord who, though King of kings, could say of Himself, "I am meek and lowly in heart."

Matthew 19 still presents the holy principles of His kingdom, into which none can enter but those who have more than the requirements of the natural man.

In Matthew 20 we have the beginning of the last great journey of the King to His capital city. It begins at Jericho and ends, not upon the throne of David, but upon the cross of Calvary. We still see the King in this part of the Gospel.

In Matthew 21 we see His royal entry into the city, together with His masterly, convicting answers to every question of unbelief and enmity.

Matthew 22 tells us of the marriage feast yet to come, in which the King will have His guests at last about Himself.

In Matthew 23 the time for forbearance is passed. All day long, the King had patiently waited upon His disobedient and rebellious people. He now denounces the ringleaders of this rebellion.

In Matthew 24 and 25 the great events connected with the second coming of the King are set before us, when He shall establish His kingdom in power; when those who have rejected His proffers of mercy in the time of His humiliation will be compelled to bow before a glory which will no longer plead, but demand righteous judgment upon His enemies.

This concludes the manner of the presentation of Christ in the Gospel of Matthew. All has special reference to His kingly authority and position as the rightful Heir to the throne of David and Ruler of His people. The various stages of the opposition to His authority are traced for us, and the conclusion at which we arrive when we reach Matthew 25 is that such a kingdom cannot be established by such a King over such a people, except by the most unsparing judgment on the one side and by a work of grace which will produce in the hearts of others a faith which shall own Him as Lord and cry: "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord." Until that time, even the temple, the house of the divine King, is left to them desolate. They may do with it what they please. They may defile it with their merchandise and vain religious ceremonies. "Ichabod" is written over it all, and indeed it will be thrown to the ground until the time comes of which He speaks at the close of His solemn denunciations.

Of the remainder of the narrative in Matthew, we will speak later, under the subject of our Lord's death. We continue for the present our examination of the manner of our Lord's presentation in the other Gospels.

The Presentation of Christ in Mark

Our Lord's Kingship is evidently not prominent in the Gospel of Mark. A measure of familiarity with its contents may suggest to us rather the tireless activity of One who had a special work to perform and carried it on with unremitting persistence until all was accomplished. This work naturally has two parts: ministry to the needy people all about Him, and the testimony for God constantly borne to His hearers. These two features of our Lord we find prominent throughout this Gospel.

We see Him as the Servant of man's need and the Prophet of God's truth. There is, therefore, but the briefest preface to His ministry, and after the first thirteen verses we see our Lord intent upon the work which He came to do.

After calling His disciples about Him, to be witnesses of and successors in His labor, He takes up His life of toil. The demoniac is delivered; Peter's wife's mother cured of fever; multitudes afflicted with divers diseases healed; the leper cleansed. In the midst of all, however, there is leisure for what the perfect Servant felt His need of, prayer, with a diligent going forward, as though to remind them that His primary work was not healing of disease, but preaching: "Therefore came I forth."

The healing of the sick of the palsy comes next (Mark 2), and in the rest of the chapter His prophetic testimony is given.

In Mark 3 the withered hand is healed, and the opposition, mutterings of which had already been heard, becomes distinct and definite.

Mark 4 gives us the substance, though not so fully, of Matthew 13. The storm is seen here after the parables, similar in moral character to its place in the Gospel of Matthew where it comes in shortly after the sermon on the mount. The Servant's path of rejection is clearly marked here as one of bitterest opposition, yet He goes on undisturbed in the steadfast purpose of service and testimony which He had set Himself to accomplish.

Mark 5 shows us His power over Satan,when most fully entrenched in men. While returning to Capernaum, the dead daughter of Jairus is raised. All is seen, we may say, as the activity of God's Prophet and Servant, rather than the authority of the King who had come to take His power and reign.

Mark 6 is devoted to His rejection, both by Nazareth and impliedly by Herod, so that He is obliged to be in a desert place; but nothing checks His ministry to the need of man. The five thousand are fed by One who was, humanly speaking, a fugitive for His life. So it is, wherever He goes, no matter how much He suffers; He can calm the raging waves for His trembling people and welcome the multitudes of weary, sick folk who are cast at His feet to be healed.

Mark 7 puts side by side, as in Matthew 15, the empty, defiled heart of formalism, and the tender compassion of the heart of Christ for the poor Gentile stranger. Returning to His own country, He opens the deaf ears and stammering tongue of one who seems to be a type of the nation, one day to have its ears opened, its lips unsealed.

Mark 8 is devoted in its first part to similar works, which seem to connect with the remnant of Israel, again feeding the multitude and reminding His disciples of His power to do this, while the opening of the eyes of the blind man at Bethsaida corresponds quite closely with the narrative in the preceding chapter. The latter part of the chapter, from verse 27, transfers us to Gentile territory, where the full confession of who He is comes out.

In Mark 9, we are with Him on the holy mount, but He does not linger long there, for need awaits Him below; the demon must be cast out of the child, as it will be out of Israel in the latter days.

From this point onward, our Lord speaks unequivocally of His rejection, as though the more clearly His glory shines forth, the more open the hostility of man becomes, emphasizing the necessity for His atoning work. Our Lord is not for a moment deterred by the glories which were upon Him in the mount, nor can the astonishment of the people at His miraculous works make Him forget the purpose for which He had come into the world. A glory ever rested upon Him, but it is the glory of meekness, "which is in the sight of God of great price," and which He presses upon His disciples.

Mark 10 brings Him to the vicinity of Jerusalem, and the events of His closing days come into prominence.

Mark 11 and Mark 12 are parallel with the same narrative in Matthew, but with the characteristic brevity and definiteness of purpose which marks this entire Gospel.

Mark 13 in like manner gives us the prophetic discourse, similar to that of Matthew 24 and 25, only briefer.

The remainder of the Gospel we defer examining until we speak of His death.

The Presentation of Christ in Luke

As a work of literature, the Gospel of Luke is perhaps superior to the other two synoptists. Written as it was by a Gentile, a physician also, and probably a man of culture, it has about it a charm naturally attaching to a finished production, but the charm is not so much natural and literary as in the method in which he presents the theme that occupies him.

In speaking thus, we would not for a moment have it thought that Matthew or Mark are incomplete or crude. Such is not the case. Matthew doubtless, as a Jew, while not a scribe, was thoroughly competent, as his Gospel shows, to present in just the right way his theme; as Mark is for his. The very conciseness and brevity of style in Mark express the theme which filled his heart.

In Luke, however, we have a delicacy of treatment which is peculiarly appropriate to the manner in which our Lord is presented to us. There are points in common both with Matthew and with Mark, but the range is evidently wider. The theme is not so much from the Jewish point of view, as from that of the gospel of the grace of God; we therefore instinctively pass from his narrative of our Lord's earthly life to that of the Acts of the Apostles, recognizing they are from one author with a unity of purpose permeating them both. Indeed we might go further, and remembering that Luke was the companion of the apostle Paul in much of his work among the Gentiles, find his Gospel narrative and that of Acts a suitable introduction to the epistles of the great apostle to the Gentiles.

Our immediate purpose here, however, is not to take a general survey of all Luke's writings, nor as yet even of his Gospel, but rather to see, as we have already done in the previous Evangelists, the way in which he presents our Lord Jesus to us.

Luke 1. We might almost imagine that this and the succeeding chapter should have been written by Matthew, as the scene is so largely Jewish; but if we look a little beneath the surface, we shall find its fitness to the general theme of Luke. The reality of faith in God, and separation of those who have this faith, as a remnant from the mass of the nation, is emphasized here. In Zacharias and Elizabeth we see this faith most beautifully, as well as in numbers of the lowly dwellers in the hill country of Judea, and in Simeon and Anna with others at Jerusalem.

We thus have a remnant, typical, no doubt, of what shall be in Israel in the latter days, but which also connects intimately with the remnant of faith that is seen throughout the Gospel narrative, and which eventually widens out into the larger thought of the Church, including the Gentiles.

In the first chapter we have the announcement of the forerunner and the account of his birth, together with the more wonderful mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God. No holier place we might say can be found than that of the annunciation, where the handmaid of the Lord bows in chastened worship at the amazing grace which had been shown to her and to the sons of men. God was to visit not merely His people Israel, but to come into the world to be the Saviour of mankind.

Luke 2. The machinery of the Roman empire is set in motion to bring to pass the prediction of the Spirit of God by the prophet that the Son of David should be born in Bethlehem, the city of David. It is touchingly appropriate that our Lord should be born at Bethlehem, the city of David in his lowliness, rather than at Jerusalem, the city of the great king, where David spent his royal life. In Matthew, wise men come to Jerusalem to learn where the King of the Jews is born. In Luke, we are not directed first to Jerusalem, but to the little village in the hill country where David spent his childhood and early days and where the heavenly Babe was born. In Matthew, a star arises which guides the nations from afar to the birthplace of the King. In Luke, a heavenly messenger announces to the shepherds of Bethlehem the same glorious event, while the praise of the angels goes out beyond the confines of Israel's nation proclaiming, "Glory to God in the highest; on earth peace, good will toward men."

Here we have a suggestion of Luke's theme, where our Lord is presented not merely in connection with the nation of Israel, but as Son of Man. He is indeed presented in the temple, but is soon carried from Bethlehem to Nazareth, where His private life is spent. We get but one glimpse of Him, a most significant one, which is also in the temple. It shows us the consciousness of His mission which was in Him from the beginning. "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" sets at rest forever all the speculations of unbelief and the philosophic reasonings of the Kenosis. However much He had emptied Himself of His glory, He was still consciously the Son of God, claiming God as His Father. Thus, while the scenes of His childhood and early life are Jewish in character, they are not directly connected with the establishment of His kingdom as in Matthew, but lead on to the events of His public life. These also are largely Jewish in form, and yet go out beyond mere Judaism.

Luke 3 is dramatic in its arrangement. The world is going on utterly unconscious of the reason of the pervading quiet. The Roman emperor is in the palace of the Caesars, and his representative, Pilate, governor in Judea. A false king of the Jews, Herod, has his little kingdom in Galilee, with his brother Philip over another portion, and still another ruler in Abilene. The world seems to be suffering from no lack of rulers, and the same plethora exists in the office of the priesthood itself — Annas and Caiaphas dividing between them honors which were theirs not so much by divine right (although doubtless descendants of Aaron) as by Roman political management.

So the world, political and religious, seems provided for and at rest. It is indeed a rest of moral death. Into the midst of this comes the word of the living God which is going to shake the throne of Rome and the palace of the priests. It comes, however, not to emperor, governor or tetrach, nor yet to the occupants of the holy office of priesthood, but to a lowly man in his rejection, John, of the family of Aaron indeed, but like Ezekiel and Jeremiah of old a prophet rather than a priest. He shakes the people both religious and military, and they flock out to hear his preaching of repentance; but this is only to prepare them for the entrance of One greater far than himself, and the crowd opens as we look upon it, and we see Another standing by the side of John as though a penitent; but neither John nor Heaven can look upon Him as that; it is One who in lowliness was taking His place with a penitent people to become their Surety and to open for them those heavens which now smile upon Him.

His genealogy follows, traced back here, not merely to David nor to Abraham, but to the first man, Adam, and thence to God. Thus we see our Lord's connection with the whole human family, rather than with Israel. It is supposed, and is probably correct, that we have here the genealogy of our Lord through His mother Mary, although being probably related to Joseph, her genealogy is his as well.

Luke 4. We follow the life of the Son of Man spent within the limits of Israel, but with a constant outlook toward the world outside. We will find, therefore, beautifully prominent, the precious gospel of the grace of God which reaches out to all mankind. The law had indeed hedged Israel about as a nation, but as they did not keep it, it could not permanently mark them off from the rest of men.

After the temptation, our Lord goes to Galilee and is found at Nazareth, where He enunciates the great principle of which we have just spoken. The message of grace is sent to His own people, but it is received by Gentiles, even as of old the widow of Zarepta, a Gentile, received the prophet and was fed during the time of famine, and as Naaman, a Syrian, had his leprosy cleansed. The poor Nazarenes would have shown the divine accuracy of our Lord's words in seeking to put Him to death; but neither the time nor manner was according to Scripture; so He passes on to minister in blessing to others.

Luke 5 is filled with beautiful pictures of God's grace. The divine presence manifested in the draught of fishes convicts Peter of sin, while grace assures him and predicts his service in the gospel. Leprosy is cleansed and palsy healed, while between these acts of grace our Lord withdraws to pour out His soul in prayer. We might mention here that prayer is a prominent characteristic of the narrative of this Evangelist. Then publicans cluster about Him who exemplifies a grace which came to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.

Luke 6. The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath, which indeed was never meant to hold man in bondage but, had he been right in his soul, to give him honorable repose and delight in God. Helplessness, induced by bondage of which the withered arm was a type, is relieved in grace; and the remainder of the chapter gives us an abridgment of the sermon on the mount from the standpoint of the gospel for men rather than the kingdom for Israel.

Luke 7. Our Lord ministers to the Roman centurion, and to Israel as typified in the widow of Nain, and justifies wisdom's children who acknowledge Him and justify Him in His ways. The lovely instance of grace in the Pharisee's house is in line with the theme of our Evangelist, for he ever delights to record the goings out of that grace.

In Luke 8 we have the parable of the sower alone of the sevenfold parabolic cycle of kingdom truth, which perhaps emphasizes Luke's theme of the gospel of the Son of man. The remaining narratives in this chapter are given in the other synoptists also, and doubtless in appropriate connections.

In Luke 9 the multitude is fed, but our Lord's rejection is more clearly manifested. The transfiguration, and healing of the demoniac child are soon followed by the development of His rejection. Luke 9:51 seems to include all the remainder of the Gospel narrative under this general subject. The journey led on to Jerusalem, the place where He was to be crucified, and everything is in the light of that. If men are to follow Him, it is following One who is going to the cross. Those who look back have not entered into the power of a life which will enable them to face death.

Luke 10. Our Lord's activity and care for others is only intensified as His rejection is more manifest. He will send messengers out with the gospel, and even the opposition and snares of the enemy furnish but further occasions for bringing out that gospel in its fulness, as the parable of the good Samaritan indicates.

Luke 11 teaches, in the parable of the three loaves, that sincere prayer never fails. The remainder of the chapter shows the deadliness of the opposition, and our Lord meets this by manifesting the hypocrisy and perfidy of the Pharisees.

Luke 12 sets before us the solemn realities of time and eternity, and gives us a view of the Son of Man in the intensity of His yearning to warn and to deliver men.

In Luke 13 the hopeless condition of Israel is dwelt upon, while there are also intimations of blessing and deliverance, as in the healing of the woman with the spirit of infirmity.

Luke 14. We are in "gospel territory" here. The parable of the feast with its invitation to the poor and the maimed needs no comment; it shows the heart of One who would draw men to Himself and provides for the needy and the hungry.

Luke 15 the pearl of the Gospel — needs no words to show its beauty. We only speak of it here as giving that aspect of our Lord consistent with the entire Gospel of Luke, the Son of Man presenting salvation to the world of sinners.

Luke 16 gives the solemn reverse picture — the pride of man in rejecting Christ, and his ultimate doom. Instead of the feast at the Father's table, there is the place of the rich man in torment.

Luke 17. In the cleansing of the lepers and the worship of the Samaritan, we have again the gospel theme of Luke; while the latter part of the chapter shows the future with its consequences for the impenitent.

In Luke 18 we see prevailing prayer, the gospel for the penitent, and its rejection by the self-sufficient. At the close, the final stage of the journey to Jerusalem is entered upon, marked as in all the synoptists by the healing of Bartimaeus. Truly, Israel's eyes will be opened when she is ready to receive Him whom they now reject.

In Luke 19 Zaccheus the publican receives the Lord, illustrating again the theme of the Gospel. The parable of the ten pounds is similar to that of the talents, but has certain characteristics of its own. It was uttered because He was nigh to Jerusalem, and while speaking of responsibility in general, the form suggests the coming of the kingdom which He would establish. The journey into Jerusalem and the cleansing of the temple follow — all Jewish scenes.

In Luke 20 our Lord deals with the leaders of the people and their questionings, much after the manner of the other Evangelists. We may note details later on.


Luke 21 is the prophetic discourse, in which all is in accord with the theme of the Gospel of the Son of Man.

The Presentation of Christ in John

The three synoptists, as has been frequently noticed, stand together and in separation from the fourth Gospel. Unbelief has endeavored to make capital out of the unique character of the Gospel of John; but let them point out its divergence as much as possible, they will be but hewers of wood and drawers of water and furnish fresh material for the display of the glory of the eternal Son of God.

If Luke shows us the Son of Man, there can be no question that in the Gospel of John, throughout, we are face to face with the Son of God. It is not that His incarnation is overlooked; a few verses in the first chapter set this forth, but we plainly see that we are not tracing the glories of the King of Israel, although He who is here is also King; nor yet are we following the busy activities of the faithful Servant, although here we have One who came down from heaven not to do His own will, but the will of Him who sent Him. He has no halo about His head. The glory which faith beholds dwells in a tabernacle, for the Word has been made flesh, but it is the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father; a glory "full of grace and truth."

John therefore stands alone. The gospel is brought out with as great clearness as in Luke, but from the standpoint of our Lord's Godhead glory. There are characteristic expressions in our Evangelist which we shall examine in another place. It is sufficient here to remind ourselves that eternal life, the gift of Him who was in the bosom of the Father, is the form in which the gospel is presented to us in John. It is therefore the divine side of it. We will endeavor to mark the manner in which our Lord is presented in the various chapters.

John 1. Verses 1-5 stand, we might say, by themselves. The link of all that takes place in incarnation with what had previously been true, is here. "The Word," the expression of the mind, thought and purposes of God, is the name given to the Son. He was "in the beginning," that is, before creation took place. He was "with God," as associated with the Father and the Spirit; He "was God," for He Himself was that as well as the Father and the Spirit. The same One who afterwards manifested Himself in His manhood was unchangeably the same, the One who "was in the beginning with God."

Thus, the continuity, if we may so say, of His Godhead, is established in the most absolute way. There was in Him life. Life belonged to Himself as the self-existent One; but this Life, even as His title "The Word," suggests a going out to His creatures and making God known to them; it is the light of men. It shone, however, in darkness — a moral darkness which could not comprehend it. Then the ministry of John is alluded to, the preaching of repentance, bringing home to man his need, and preparing him to receive the true Light which was coming into the world.

Our Lord thus comes into the world which His own hands had made, but He is seen from the beginning as the rejected One, both by the world at large, which knew Him not, and by His own Israel who received Him not. This was because of man's nature; but grace also was working, and therefore as many as received Him were brought into a place not of occasional blessing, but made members of the family of God — born of Him in connection with faith in the name of His Son.

Thus, the Word was made flesh; incarnation has taken place; divine glory has consented to dwell in a lowly tabernacle which displays its beauties to faith alone. The glory of the uncreated God is brought nigh to men. Those who have eyes see it, and realize that the only begotten Son has declared Him whom no eye had ever seen.

John the Baptist, the preacher of repentance, points out our Lord as more than the incarnate Son. He is the Lamb of God who by His sacrifice is to bring men back to God. As the result of John's preaching and pointing out Christ, the disciples follow Him to the place where He abides, typical of heaven itself.

John 2. As the former chapter carries us, we may say, up to heaven, the present one introduces us into the scene of Israel's blessing. We have the marriage in Cana, God's unchanging purposes to be fulfilled as to Israel, but not according to nature. Wine, the type of joy, fails in the very midst of the appointed feast, a feast of the Jews in which there can be no true joy; but where there is a true reception of His word and repentance, as suggested by the water-pots filled with water, the wine of joy in national blessing will then be realized. Our Lord goes on to Jerusalem, to the passover; but another passover must take place before the true foundations of access to God can be laid. The people still know Him not.

John 3. The main themes here are: the need of life, as seen in the necessity of new birth pressed upon a ruler of the Jews, and the need of the Cross as the basis upon which alone new birth or any other blessing could be secured. The gift of eternal life is thus intimately associated with the work in us in new birth and the work for us upon the cross.

In John 4 our Lord is presented as the Giver of eternal life, and He who was in the bosom of the Father is seen sitting at the well of Sychar giving the water of life to a sinner.

John 5 shows that miracles of the most marvelous kind cannot break the obdurate heart of the impenitent without sovereign grace, but the miracle of healing the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda furnishes the text upon which our Lord preaches His great theme of eternal life, and the alternative of judgment which is also committed into His hands. All looks on to the resurrection.

In John 6 we see Him as the Giver and Sustainer of eternal life under the figure of bread. This is the one miracle narrated in all four Evangelists, which must have therefore special significance. The manner of treating it by each Evangelist is worthy of note. John alone founds a vast system of divine truth upon it; it suggests to us his theme, the Lord in His Godhead, yet incarnate, who is the Giver and Sustainer of that eternal life which is both from and in Him. In chap. 3 we have the doctrine of the Cross in connection with the water, we may say: and in chap. 6 the doctrine of the Cross in connection with bread. The one speaks of the impartation of life; the other of its sustenance also.

In John 7 again our Lord as the Eternal Life is the theme. He is both the Life and the Giver of it; precious thought — He gives Himself. Here it is not only as water in a well which satisfies the heart, but as a river flowing out in the power of the Holy Spirit to refresh others also.

John 8 shows us sin in the presence of perfect holiness and divine grace; and this forms, we may say, the theme of our Lord's discourse with the Jews. He is the Light of the world; to follow Him is to have not only light, but the light of life. Light alone would condemn, but the light which gives life makes one at home in the presence of God, even as the narrative of the woman at the beginning of the chapter illustrates.

The light manifests all that is contrary to it. The Jews, therefore, are manifested in their hatred, an opposition so well known that our Lord could speak of the time coming when they would lift up the Son of Man. However, if they rejected Him, God was with Him; the consciousness of His Father's presence was ever with Him. What a power there must have been in these words! for as He uttered them many believed on Him; but this faith must be genuine, the fruit of the Spirit's work, or it will only cover the enmity that lies beneath. Real freedom is by the truth. It sets the soul at liberty, for it is the freedom which the Son gives, and if the Son make you free, ye shall be free indeed, in the place of sonship, and this sonship is not the formal, outward thing, but that which marks the true family of God, even from Abraham onward.

John 9. The opening of the blind eyes is a figure not only of the remnant's recovery of eyesight, but of the natural man being met in grace. It is, of course, a Jewish scene, and the man is put out of the synagogue, by which he is brought face to face with the Son of God whom his soul delights to worship.

In John 10 the true Shepherd of the sheep is seen, and He has led forth one of those sheep whom He has called by name in the previous chapter. Here we have the eternal life again, given through the death of the Son of God who as the good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep, and as the great Shepherd holds them fast, so that none can pluck them out of His hand.

In John 11 we see the Life in resurrection, beyond the power of death, and while the raising of Lazarus is but a type of this, the veil is not too thick for faith to see beyond it, even to behold Him who is the Resurrection and the Life, and in whom, if a man believe, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and he that liveth and believeth on Him shall never die.

John 12 closes our Lord's public dealings with the people. We have the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, with its own special significance, appropriate to this Gospel. The Gentiles desire to see Him, but the cross is still before Him. His holy soul shrinks from the anguish He knew that cross entailed, an anguish of no mere physical suffering, but the darkness of separation from God. Yet He faces all: for, for this cause had He come into the world; He would not shrink from the hour which was now at hand. The closing part of the chapter is a most solemn farewell, we may say, a lingering of the Light and of the Life upon the threshold of a temple of form and ceremony, to which He would even return were there but a heart to receive Him. Alas, that heart was in the sleep of moral death, even as the prophet had foretold; and though the glory of the Son of God was there, there were no eyes to behold it.

In John 13 and the succeeding chapters our Lord is now alone with His disciples. In this chapter we have Him as the Advocate who would fit His people for communion with Himself. This is the significance of the washing of the disciples' feet. He would thus fit them to enjoy communion with Himself; while Judas withdraws himself, for he has no true part in all this.

John 14. If the previous chapter gives us the cleansing by the way, this one shows us the end of the way in the Father's house. We see our Lord as the Giver of the Spirit who is to abide with us to the end of the journey. He leaves peace with us, a peace which He makes by the blood of His cross; His own peace, too, is to be our portion. Thus, we have part with Him.

In John 15 our Lord speaks of Himself in symbol as the true Vine. Israel, the unfruitful vine which brought forth wild grapes, is displaced by the true One who submits to all the Father's cultivation, even to that which was necessary to introduce into vital connection with Himself those branches which are to bear fruit. Fruit-bearing is the theme. Where His word and the Holy Spirit abide, obedience will be the result, and the very opposition of the world will only furnish occasion for this fruitfulness to be manifested.

John 16 speaks of the special ministry of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit to be sent by the Lord so soon to leave His disciples. Again they will see Him, and in the liberty of the Spirit will enter into a new life whose joy none can take from them. At the close of the chapter, in briefest words He gives the truth as to Himself: "I came forth from the Father" tells us of that eternal glory which was His before the world was; "I am come into the world" tells of His incarnation; "Again, I leave the world" speaks of His cross and resurrection; "and go to the Father" shows us where He was before, but there now as Man, as having accomplished by His death a redemption for His people which gives them a title to be there also.

In John 17 we are privileged not only to hear our Lord's words to us and to His disciples, but to hear Him speak to His Father, pouring out His soul in that high-priestly intercessory prayer for His own. In chapter 13, we see Him as the Advocate; in chapter 17, as the High Priest. In the one he is busy about us; in the other, He is still engaged about us, but with the Father, pouring out unto Him His desires and intercession in our behalf. Having glorified God in His life, He was now to glorify Him by death and finished work.

All is anticipative and looks on beyond the cross. He has authority over all flesh, but that authority is now seen in the giving of eternal life. Eternal life is manifested in the knowledge of the true God and Jesus Christ His sent One. All through, there is the perfect consciousness of having glorified the Father. There is also the consciousness, may we say, the remembrance? — of a glory which He had with Him before the world was, a glory into which He was soon to reenter. Meanwhile, His thoughts, His affections, His desires, linger with His beloved people, whether seen in the disciples who had been His companions and with whom He tarried on earth, and kept them by His power, or in that wider circle which takes in all who believe upon Him through their word, down to the very last sinner who shall be saved by grace and brought into the company of the saints.

For these His prayer goes out, that they may be kept from the evil that is in the world, that they may be sanctified by the truth; yea, know the power of a sanctification which links with heaven and thus separates from earth, a sanctification marked by Himself: "For their sakes, I sanctify Myself." His longings are for the unity of His disciples and for all who are His; a unity of life, of nature and of service too, a unity which shall compel belief on the part of the world.

He looks forward also to the glory, and desires that all His own shall have such a knowledge of that glory as shall manifest their unity even here, a glory which surely shall be enjoyed in the unity which shall then be displayed.

His love cannot rest even here. He still prays for us, that we may be with Himself, beholding a glory which we never could, and no regenerate soul ever would, desire to wear, the glory of the Only Begotten with the Father. We shall behold it, however, and it will be our heaven to see Him in all that glorious excellence which has marked Him throughout the entire narrative of this wonderful Gospel. There can thus be no doubt as to how our Lord is presented to us in the Gospel of John.

2. The Aspect of the Lord's Death as Presented in Each Gospel

Pursuing the method already used in tracing our Lord's life through the four Gospels, we will now ask reverently: In what way is His death presented to us in each Gospel?

We may divide this precious subject thus:
1. The Last Supper.
2. Gethsemane and the Betrayal.
3. The Trial before the High Priest.
4. Pilate's Judgment Hall and Herod.
5. The Crucifixion.
6. The Burial.
We will look at these features separately.

1. The Last Supper

As has been already remarked, the closing scenes of our Lord's life begin in each Gospel with His entrance into Jerusalem; but for our purpose we begin with that which is immediately connected with His death, having already looked at that part which extends from Jericho up to the passover night.

In Matthew (Matt. 26:1-29), our Lord predicts His death as He had often done before, but now names the time, "after two days." He knows all that is to take place and this precedes the statement of the plot of the chief priests, who in fact decided not to deliver Him up on the feast day, but whose counsels could not set aside God's predetermined purpose.

The anointing in the house of Simon the leper, at Bethany, by the nameless woman, is evidently that recorded in John. Minor details of apparent differences will be noted elsewhere. Appropriately to this Gospel, the ointment is spoken of as put upon His Head, as if crowned by it. The plot of the traitor Judas is put side by side with this fragrant act of worship, the memorial of which, according to our Lord's words, remains ever with us. The place where to eat the pass-over is provided for; and at this, which preceded the institution of the Lord's Supper, the betrayal of Judas Iscariot is fully declared.

The passover was the Jewish feast, and in this Gospel which gives us things from a Jewish standpoint, it is fitting that Judaism as such should be seen as set aside. After the fulfilment of what the passover implied Judaism retained nothing but the treachery which, while it centered in Judas, characterized the nation as a whole.

The Lord's Supper is given very briefly, but most preciously. The bread is His body; the cup is His blood of the new covenant as contrasted with the old, now about to be forever set aside. The cup that remained for Him was one of sorrow unutterable. His joy waited until He should drink it in a new way with His disciples in His Father's kingdom.

In Mark (Mark 14:1-25) the narrative is almost identical with that in Matthew. The place where they are to eat the passover supper is pointed out by our Lord; the man with a pitcher of water would guide them there. The details as to the traitor, and as to the Lord's Supper give no new features. When we come to consider the character of the two Gospels, the reason for all this will be evident, and more especially when we look at the typical significance of His death.

In Luke (Luke 22:1-30), the anointing is not spoken of; possibly because being a semi-official act it would not be appropriate to the theme which filled the mind of the Evangelist — the Son of Man, bringing men into the presence of God in peace and communion.

The preliminary arrangement of the passover supper is the same as in the other synoptists. The Lord's Supper, however, stands out here after the manner of Luke, in the place of special prominence rather than its probable order.

Verse 15 speaks of eating this the last passover, which had been His earnest desire. Never again would He partake of it until all was fulfilled in the kingdom of God. The cup spoken of in verse 17 is the closing cup of the passover, and not to be confounded with the cup also given to them in establishing the new feast.

Verses 19 and 20 give us this which is to be done as a memorial of Himself. The traitor is spoken of after this, not necessarily to indicate his presence at the Lord's Supper. Indeed, what we have in Matthew and Mark, and especially in John, would show that he was not present at the Lord's Supper. He goes out immediately after receiving the sop. (See John 13:30.)

Closely connected with the perfidy of Judas, though distinctly differing from it, is the pride and strife amongst the disciples as to who should be the greatest. Truly, if through grace delivered from the former, we must recognize our constant danger of falling into the latter sin.

John (John 12:1-9; John 13:1-17). We shall see later on, how the marked individuality of the fourth Gospel separates it from the other three, and nowhere is this more manifest than in that which now occupies us. While the actual institution of the Lord's Supper is not directly mentioned, only implied, there is a fulness of discourse in John which is absent from the other Gospels.

In the feast at Bethany the names of Martha and Mary are prominent in service and worship. We are not told just the connection between them and Simon the leper (of course a cleansed leper), at whose house, as we learn in Matthew, the anointing took place. There is no need for the supposition which some have made that Martha was married to him; others, that while the feast was in his house, the hosts were the family so devoted to our Lord. This latter, however, is not unnatural to Jewish customs. "There they made Him a supper" (John 12:2) might thus include both Simon who opened his house, and Martha and her family who gladly ministered there.

In the anointing by Mary, the spikenard is not put upon His head, but upon His feet. Doubtless, this last was the more prominent part of the act; the anointing of the head, Matthew only records. In wiping His feet with her hair Mary lays her glory there as a tribute to Him whose death was all in all to her.

The washing of the disciples' feet in chapter 13 seems clearly to be in connection with the passover supper. Ver. 2 should read "Supper being come." It was at the beginning, not at the end, of the passover feast. The strife amongst them narrated by Luke is met by the washing of the feet. He who was "over all, God blessed forever," would take the lowest place, while they were engaged in dispute for supremacy.

The declaration as to the traitor is given here with greater fulness. Our Lord's omniscience, appropriately with this Gospel, is brought into somewhat greater prominence. We do not speak of the conversation which took place upon the departure of Judas; but it seems clear that just at the close of chapter 13, the Lord's Supper was instituted, leaving the precious discourses of chapters 14 — 16 and the prayer of chapter 17 to take place at or after that feast.

The apparent movement in John 14:31, "Arise, let us go hence," may suggest, as some have thought, that chapters 15 and 16 were spoken on the way to Gethsemane and the prayer of chapter 17 uttered in some quiet place by the wayside. We are not careful as to these details beyond what the Spirit of God has seen fit to make known. The discourse and prayer, however, have an appropriate connection with the Lord's Supper which we should not overlook.

2. Gethsemane and the Betrayal

Perhaps nowhere in the entire sad record of our Lord's suffering do we find more tender manifestations of His devotion to His Father than in Gethsemane. It has a character peculiar to itself, different from the "horror of great darkness" of the cross which it precedes, and marked off, too, in a well defined way from what had gone before. It stands out indeed as the "oil press," which its name signifies, where the sweet ointment of a love and obedience which nothing could divert from its steadfast course is manifested, in a fragrance all its own, a sweet perfume and holy anointing oil meet to adorn His head alone.

Matthew (Matt. 26:30-56). The hymn (ver. 30) closes the scene at the Supper. It has been thought, and with much show of reason, that this was a part of the great

Hallel (Ps. 115-118) which was sung by the Jews at the close of the passover supper. If so, it included Psalm 116, which is Messiah's own utterance, celebrating His deliverance from the gates of death. How blessedly appropriate that, ere He entered that gloomy portal, He could in anticipation celebrate His deliverance from it and declare that the Stone which the builders were so soon finally to reject had become the Head of the corner (Ps. 118). This is according to the manner of the Psalms, where the results are declared at the outset, and the stages through which those results are reached follow afterwards; or, as we might say, here again we see the singers put in the forefront of the battle.

Knowing all that should come to pass, the scattering of His entire little flock and the special denial of the chiefest of them, the Lord appoints a meeting place with them in Galilee, which is peculiar to this Gospel and Mark's, suggesting the dispensational character which marks it throughout.

The thrice-repeated prayer, with its entreaty that the cup pass from Him, coupled with perfect submission, show at once His holiness which shrank from what was coming, and the obedience which was a part of His moral being. The weakness of the disciples who could sleep in a scene like this shows how immeasurably the best of men are separated from His sorrow, the like of which there never had been.

The narrative of the betrayal, with its kiss of perfidy, follows. While perfectly submissive to the vested authority of those led by the traitor, we get a glimpse, also a governmental one, of our Lord's conscious kingly authority: "Thinkest thou not that I cannot now pray to My Father and He shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?" Instead of the twelve legions, He stops the rash act of one not named here, reminding him that they that take the sword — in their own strength — shall perish with the sword. To those who were sent to lay hold of Him He would not even tacitly acquiesce in any thought of guilt on His part, but reminds them that He had sat daily with them, teaching in the temple; it was the fulfilment of Scripture which He alone acknowledged.

In Mark (Mark 14:26-52), the narrative follows closely that of Matthew, as is to be expected when we consider the similarity of their themes. In Mark, the detail of the cock's crowing twice is given, which was only referred to generally in Matthew. In the agony in the garden, the Father is addressed by the dearest of all titles: "Abba." Most appropriate is it that the Gospel which shows the greatest depths of distance should precede its narrative with the term of closest filial endearment. And how near we have been brought by that sacrifice, to be able by the Spirit to use the same language!

Nothing calls for special remark in the arrest except, "a certain young man" who by some has been thought to be the Evangelist himself. He who was the sin offering must be alone; none could follow Him, save at a distance. Where there is an attempt to do this, it will but manifest the shame of the one who makes it.

In Luke (Luke 22:31-53), the prediction of Peter's denial is given first, but he is only one among the rest. They are all to be sifted as wheat, and Peter is the object of special testing in this connection, that he might be especially used for the confirmation of others later on.

The remarkable utterance about the swords is peculiar to Luke. It was, as though the Lord would say He would be taken from them, and they, humanly speaking, would be cast upon themselves for sustenance and defence; and to their answer, showing Him two swords, He replies, as closing the subject: "It is enough" — surely not sufficient if they were to rely upon human weapons. Indeed, He undoes later what the sword attempts.

The ministry of the angel and His agony and bloody sweat are peculiar to Luke who makes prominent the perfect humanity of our Lord. The kiss of the traitor is characterized as that, and the whole dark scene described in those brief words: "This is your hour and the power of darkness."

In John (John 18:1-11), the dignity of the divine Son is seen in the brief narrative given. The traitor is there, but no record of the kiss is allowed, and the officers who accompany him fall prostrate in the presence of a power which was not to be put forth for His own deliverance. His care for His own is seen and those whom the Father has given Him are kept inviolate, even though Peter is named as the offender in the matter of Malchus.

The "cup" is mentioned, not in the agony of entreaty and shrinking from its dreadful bitterness, but as given to Him of His Father, to be drunk in a submission which ever found its meat and drink in doing His will.

3. The Trial Before the High Priest

The trial of our Lord, if such a mockery can be called that, divides into two parts: that before the high priest, which may be termed the religious side; and that before Pilate, or the political. The Jews had no power of executing the death penalty, which rested in the hands of the Romans. This explains why the Lord, after His condemnation at the hands of the Jews was brought before the Gentile power.

In Matthew (Matt. 26:57-75), the travesty of a trial before the Sanhedrin is gone through. The very priests and leaders who were to be His judges seek for false witness upon whose testimony they will render their verdict. Can the ignominy of such a trial be more strongly exhibited? False witnesses, predicted long before, laid things to His charge which He knew not. A modicum of truth is perverted, as is often the case, in the most awful form of falsehood. The temple of God was indeed to be destroyed, but not by Him; and restored, but not in the way their testimony would imply. Indeed, none knew better than themselves that He meant nothing of this kind. Later on we see how this perversion was passed out among the people, and taken by them as the true ground for His condemnation. Thus easily a false insinuation is fostered until it is accepted for the truth.

The high priest, however, simply uses this as an occasion to extort from the Lord, if possible, an admission upon which He can be convicted. Receiving no answer as to the accusation of the false witnesses, He is adjured to declare whether or no He is the Christ the Son of God. To such an adjuration, even from such polluted lips, our Lord responds. Indeed, He goes further and solemnly declares not only His Messiahship and Sonship, but His exaltation and coming in judgment. Well might their hearts quake, had they not been so blinded, when thus reminded of One who was to sit upon the right hand of Jehovah until His enemies were made His footstool. But their wicked will blinds them to everything but their purpose. At once, the charge of blasphemy is made and He is declared to be guilty of death.

Free rein is now given to the malice seen long before and recorded in the words of the prophet: "I gave My back to the smiters and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair. I hid not My face from shame and spitting."

In divine faithfulness, Peter's denial is placed side by side with the holy confession of our Lord: the One, undeterred from the purposes of His love by the malice, bigotry, and certainty of death at the hands of His enemies; the other, too weak to stand before the word of a maid. Thrice he repeats his denial, but the crowing of the cock foretells, at the darkest hour, the coming of the morning, and Peter's tears are precursors of a new day for himself.

In Mark (Mark 14:53-72), the narrative follows closely that of Matthew. In addition to Peter's following afar off, we have the added touch,: "He … warmed himself at the fire" — in too close association with the enemies of our Lord. The false witnesses, the adjuration of the priest, and the condemnation follow in the same order. The denial, with the exception that the crow of the cock is twice repeated, is the same as in Matthew.

In Luke (Luke 22:54-71), the order is reversed, and Peter's denial with all the details comes first. Then the mockery to which the Lord is subjected, and the decision of the council is given last. We might say we have the moral order here — denied by His own, mocked of His enemies, which is crowned by the deliberate judgment of the council.

John (John 18:12-27). A preliminary examination seems to have been made at the house of Annas, father-in-law to Caiaphas. This is noted alone in John. The main trial, however, takes place in the high priest's palace. It is in accord with the manner of the entire Gospel of John, that the Evangelist who speaks of himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" or "another disciple," never giving his name, should be seen here close to the One upon whose bosom he had leaned. It was through him that Peter was able to go as he did to the Sanhedrim, but this nearness only brought in the occasion for his denial. This is first made at the door as he is let in; then, undeterred by his denial, he stands with the servants and officers and warms himself at their fire. Before the wretched weakness culminates in the third denial, the Evangelist turns us to the patient Witness in whose blessed heart was no thought of denying aught that He had ever stood for, cost what it may.

The false witnesses are not spoken of here: the interrogations are made directly, and the Lord refers them to His public teaching. When rebuked and struck for answering (an entirely righteous act on His part), His calm reply shows how perfectly He was master of every feeling and of the whole situation.

4. Pilate's Judgment Hall and Herod

The civil trial follows upon the ecclesiastical, for the reasons already noted. All four Evangelists note this. It would seem that while the actual trial and condemnation of our Lord occurred during the night (a thing prohibited by Jewish oral law) the formal sentence was not pronounced until the morning. The religion of the flesh is ever noted for straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel. They had no scruple about imbruing their hands in the blood of the Innocent, but, as John tells us, they would not go into Pilate's judgment hall, lest they should be defiled and prevented from eating the passover.

In Matthew (Matt. 27:1-31), the morning sentence is recorded; and then the Lord is delivered over to the Roman governor. The culmination of Judas' crime is next mentioned (vers. 3-10); alas, his repentance is without sorrow, with a heart unchanged, which can only pronounce its own doom and then carry it into execution. How solemnly does Judas stand for the apostate nation! They, too, for imagined temporal advantage, sold their Messiah, and with the price have gained but a burial place for strangers — which the world has been to them ever since.

The difficulty as to the quotation from Jeremy the prophet, which seems actually to be from Zechariah, has often been commented upon. Unbelief seeks to prove a contradiction. Faith reverently inquires and gets answers which meet the difficulties. Jeremiah is the first who speaks of the potter, and it is appropriate that what he says (compare Jer. 19 with Zech. 11:13) of Israel's sin and their rejection, together with the burial place in the valley of Hinnom, should be connected with the detail of the purchase of that burying place as predicted in Zechariah.

We come to the "good confession" before Pilate. The charge, it will be remembered, upon which He was convicted by the council, was blasphemy against God. This would not do to present before a secular ruler. Another charge must therefore be made which would involve Him before the Roman tribunal. Rebellion against Caesar, in setting Himself up as a king, is the charge. Here again the element of truth perverted into actual falsehood shows the crooked ways of those who were determined to carry out their own wicked will.

Our Lord answers nothing to the charge; and Pilate, apparently convinced already of His innocence, instead of dismissing the case with reprimand to His false accusers, proposes a compromise — always a fatal thing; for evil will not be satisfied with a part. If that is yielded, the whole is demanded. Our Lord needed not a pardon on the ground of its being the time of the passover. Blessed results indeed were to flow from this passover for many; a prisoner would be set free, but not the One whose love alone made Him a bondman to work liberty for others at infinite cost to Himself.

The warning of Pilate's wife is recorded in Matthew alone. As of old God rebuked the madness of the prophet Balaam by a dumb brute, so here, through the dream of a woman, He would arrest the hand about to shed innocent blood.

Barabbas is chosen by the people instead of Christ, for whom nothing but the cross will do. Barabbas, "the son of the Father," strange name indeed for one who was chosen by the apostate people instead of the true Son of the Father! Their choice of a leader in lawlessness and a murderer reminds us of our Lord's words as to the coming Antichrist: "I am come in My Father's name, and ye receive Me not. If another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive." The Antichrist heads up the mystery of lawlessness which is already at work, and the people in the last days will choose him rather than the One whom they have pierced. It is this which distinguishes the godly remnant from the mass of the nation in a way that could not be mistaken. The one chooses Barabbas, the Antichrist; the other, the true Son of the Father.

In vain poor Pilate, in the wickedness of moral weakness,washes his hands but not in innocency. Neither his refusal of responsibility as to the blood of the Just One nor the people's acceptance of it will excuse him or them in the day when God shall make inquisition for blood.

The mocking which follows is much the same as in Mark.

Mark (Mark 15:1-20). No added features of the trial before Pilate are given in Mark,which closely follows Matthew, without, however, the record of the dream of Pilate's wife. After the sentence has been given against the Lord, certain details of wanton cruelty are mentioned. The governor orders Him to be scourged, and the soldiers hold a mock court of honor in which they go through the semblance of crowning and enthroning Him as king. The crown of thorns and a purple robe of royalty are put upon Him, a reed instead of a sceptre, and while bowing the knee, their spittle shows their contempt. After the mock homage He is reclothed in His own garments — for He could be none other than Himself — and led away to be crucified.

Luke (Luke 23:1-25). Minuter details of the trial are given here. Question and answer pass between Pilate and the people. In this Evangelist alone we see the futile effort of poor Pilate to rid himself of responsibility by turning our Lord over to king Herod, tetrarch of Galilee, in whose jurisdiction He was. Herod and his men join in the mockery which everywhere is meted out to the Lord,who in the meekness of holiness is silent amid it all. He is returned to Pilate who cannot escape responsibility in this way; and the friendship thus regained with Herod is sealed by mutual guilt in the condemnation of the Just. Willing enough to compromise with the people by chastising One whom he had just pronounced innocent, he again would make use of the Passover custom to release the Lord. But the people clamor for a robber and a murderer rather than the Lord; thirsty for His blood, they prevail over Pilate, and Jesus is delivered to their will.

John (John 18:28 — 19:1-16). This narrative goes deeper than the others, as might be expected from the character in which our Lord is presented throughout this Gospel. The religious scruples of the Jews will not allow them to enter the judgment hall, and contrary to Roman law which demanded that accused and accuser should be brought face to face, the pitiful spectacle is presented of the representative of the Emperor passing like a shuttle from his judgment hall,where the innocent Victim stood, to the mob outside clamoring for His blood.

The formal charge is evidently the same as given in the other Gospels: our Lord was amenable to Roman law because He had made Himself a king. Pilate invites them to deal with Him according to their law; but this would not satisfy them, for it was His life they wanted, and the Romans had taken the death penalty from them.

Passing into the judgment hall, Pilate questions the Lord. How solemn is the scene! Judge and Accused change places. It is not the Roman who pronounces sentence, but rather the Accused standing there and bearing witness to the truth which condemns the unjust judge, looking for an opening to find Him guilty. He is a king, but not in any sense of which Pilate could take account. His kingdom is not of this world. If it were (though one day it will be, and all the the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him who is King of kings and Lord of lords), His servants would fight. Now it is the kingdom of truth of which He is the embodiment and Lord: as such He detects the untruth of the man who stands there for justice but does what he knows is not the truth. Alas, Pilate knows not, or professes not to know the meaning of all this, but feels it enough to go out and make another futile effort at compromise with the people. These, however, know their lesson well, and show a firmness in wickedness which Pilate cannot show for righteousness.

The matter is now practically settled; but the last scene is yet more solemn. Jesus is scourged; the soldiers crown and adorn Him in mock homage as King of the Jews. Still protesting the innocence of the Lord, Pilate leads Him forth to the awful mob without, clothed in garments which could not detract from His holy and divine dignity. "Behold the Man!" exclaims Pilate. "Crucify Him, crucify Him" cry out the leaders; but now in answer to the almost pitiful pleading of Pilate, they give the true accusation: "He made Himself the Son of God." This strikes fresh terror into Pilate's heart. Who is this mysterious person? He takes Him back into the judgment hall and seeks, not to know the truth, but apparently to probe into this awful mystery, possibly to justify himself in consenting to the accusation of the Jews. Our Lord cannot answer inquiries such as these, though the faintest desire to know the real truth was always met by Him. The poor governor tries to work himself into a rage: he speaks of his power and authority, only to be met by the calmness of divine Truth, which shows how helpless Pilate in his weakness, as the people in their wickedness, are to do aught contrary to the eternal purposes of God.

Pilate's efforts to free Him are now redoubled, but he has already put himself into the enemies' hands and they will find a sure and short way of ending his weak protests. They intimate that they will accuse him to his master, Caesar. "Whosoever maketh himself a king, speaketh against Caesar." This ends the unequal contest. Alas, those who tell us of the good which lies at the bottom of every heart fail to find it here in the heart of Pilate. He sits down now to pronounce the final sentence. Is He a king? Then he will accept the charge. "Behold your king," he says. Must I crucify him? They answer: "We have no king but Caesar." So there seems to be a great victory for the Roman authority. Does Pilate delude himself into thinking he has made the imperial power more stable? We cannot believe it. However, he goes through the awful mockery, and Jesus is led away to be crucified.

5. The Crucifixion

The cross, in one point of view, was the dark goal which was before the Son of God ere He came to earth. Incarnation was necessary in order that He might make atonement. "A body hast Thou prepared Me" … "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once." This shows that the prepared body of His incarnation was with a view to the full accomplishment of the will of God in His death. The cross is the great dividing point in the history of fallen man we may say indeed, "the centre of two eternities" toward which all things converged, from which all radiate. It well becomes us, then, to stand by the cross and gaze with wonder at the divine transaction which took place there. It has a special connection with all classes and all subjects. There, on the one side, every attribute of the character of God is displayed, and on the other, all the history of man and the possibilities of the human heart exhibited. Satan is seen there in the cunning of a malice which is limited only by his capacity for evil, and the world as a system under the control of its prince, is there manifested in its true character.

If we wish to know what sin is, what Satanic energy is, what Christless self-righteousness is, we look at the Cross and see them displayed there. If we wish to know what divine justice and righteousness are, what holiness in its perfection is, where wisdom and the perfect measure of love are displayed, what grace and mercy mean, we have to look at the Cross. If we wish to understand how come the blessed fruits of redemption, it is not in the transformed lives of men we should seek it (though they are illustrations of them), but at the Cross from which they spring. Here we learn what forgiveness is and what peace with God means! Here, too, we see the basis and power for deliverance, the title to glory in short, every blessing, temporal and eternal for the people of God, finds its origin here. No flowers and fruits of divine grace and love, of obedience, of service, of joy, of peace — no graces of meekness, of gentleness, of self-denial — no fruits which have transformed the desert of fallen manhood and make it blossom as the rose, but have their roots running down to Calvary from which they spring and by which they are nourished.

If we wish to know the certainty of the doom awaiting the rejecters of Christ, the unutterable terror of final judgment, the eternity of future punishment, we find them in the cross where divine judgment and wrath were poured upon the spotless Substitute to deliver men from the inevitable consequences of their own sin.

We need not be surprised, therefore, that the crucifixion is given in much detail in each of the narratives. Here also we find that the special theme of each Evangelist is adhered to, which so far from contradicting the full truth, only brings out the perfections of the narrative all the more clearly.

Matthew (Matt. 27:32-56). The incident of Simon the Cyrenian (ver. 32) is suggestive. It is he who bears the cross. Its significance, however, may well suggest that participation in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ which it is the privilege of all who follow Him. The contrast between the two Simons has been suggested; the one who protested fullest obedience but who in the hour of testing denied his Lord, and this man who bears the cross. It does not seem that he voluntarily offered himself, however, but was impressed into service by the exigencies of the occasion. However, it is not said that he refused. The Spirit of God has recorded this incident, and it demands our careful attention.

It is fitting that the place of execution should bear the gruesome name of Golgotha, Calvary, "the place of a skull." Indeed, the whole world was that in the eyes of God, a lifeless, hideous travesty of what had come so fair from his hands. It is more than mere scorn when the cynic says:
"Every face, however full,
Padded round with flesh and fat,
Is but modelled on a skull."

Calvary was thus a witness of the moral condition of the whole world, also of the love and grace which would come down to the very place where the hideousness of sin was manifested, there to triumph over it. From the skull of Calvary springs the beauty of the resurrection; not only for the Son of God over whom indeed death had no power, and whom it could not disfigure, though it might eclipse His beauty to the eye of man, but for the whole family of the redeemed who are risen with Christ, eternally beyond the power of death to mar or disfigure.

The draft of vinegar mingled with gall seems to have a twofold meaning. There was a fulfilment of the prophecy: "They gave Me also gall for My meat, and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink." It reminds us of the bitterness of the "cup" which our Lord drank at the hands of man. It also implies a rough attempt at mitigating the intensity of His physical sufferings, after the manner of an opiate. This seems to be the ground of our Lord's refusing to drink it. He would not allow anything to dull the acuteness of those sufferings, of which the physical were the least.

We are spared the pain of details in the actual immolation of the blessed Sufferer, which is described in the brief words: "They crucified Him." We know from other scriptures it was by nailing Him to the cross which was lifted up from earth, with Him suspended upon it, hanging upon the tree.

The parting His garments and casting lots is a fulfilment of another scripture. He was stripped of every honor by the ruthless hands of those who nailed Him to the cross. Then, sitting down they watched Him as a guard to see that no one interfered to bring Him relief or to deliver Him. No need for this, indeed; it was His own love that took Him to the cross and kept Him there; but His enemies are thus made to bear witness to the fact of His crucifixion as, a little later on, the guard about the closed sepulchre is made to testify to His resurrection. The accusation set over His cross is that which Pilate had pronounced as his sentence of condemnation. It was the technical charge upon which He had been declared guilty. It meant, of course, the end of all Jewish kingship, in addition to much else. Here we see, in this Gospel of the kingdom, the final rejection of their King by the Jews.

The two thieves crucified with Him show how completely He was "numbered with the transgressors." The ribald crowd taunt Him, taking up the false witness that had been borne against Him: "Thou that destroyest the temple and buildest it in three days, save Thyself." Unconsciously, they use the very language of the tempter himself in the wilderness: "If Thou be the Son of God;" but if Satan was again tempting Him, he could no more move Him to descend from the cross than to make bread of the stones or cast Himself down from the temple.

The chief priests and other leaders of the people join in the mockery. As has often been the case, the very reproach which they cast upon Him is His glory. It was indeed true, in a way which poor malice never dreamed of, that "He saved others; Himself He cannot save" — not the "cannot" of weakness or inability, but of divine love. In their wicked glee, they promise to believe on Him if He would come down from the cross and thus prove Himself to be the King of Israel. Alas, when a mightier proof is given them by His resurrection from the dead, they could corrupt the Roman soldiers to hide the dreaded truth. Thinly veiled indeed from their own consciences must have been the evidences of His kingship, manifested as it had been in His wondrous works; but His was a kingdom in which they could have no place unless transformed by the power of divine grace. And the work for which He had come in flesh must now be accomplished upon the cross, that thus He might acquire the right which divine love craved, to bring poor sinners back to God, ere He returns to administer His kingdom in righteousness.

The language of the leaders is practically a direct quotation from the 22nd psalm, and illustrates the blindness of which the apostle speaks when he says: "They that dwell at Jerusalem and their rulers, because they knew Him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning Him" (Acts 13:27). These voices touch upon the real reason of their hatred of Him — His divine Sonship.

In all this mockery, the two thieves have their share. It shows that punishment and suffering have in themselves no efficacy to purify that which is impure. This only brings out all the more clearly the grace which Luke records as to one of these thieves.

We then see our Lord passing into the dark shadow, even "the blackness of darkness" in which all His sufferings at the hands of man are overshadowed. From the sixth hour (noon), with the sun in mid-heaven, to the ninth — three full hours (suggesting the fulness of the measure of the cup of wrath poured out to Him) there was darkness over all the land. "God is light," and from our sin-Bearer the light is absolutely withdrawn. The eclipsing of the sun was but a figure of a more awful eclipse upon the soul of the holy Son of God. It is of this that He cries in the period of His anguish, using still that inspired Word which dwelt within His heart, which the Spirit of God long ago had prophesied of through David: "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?"

We have here the central point of atonement, without which it would not have been truly that. The absolute forsaking of God — the complete withdrawal not merely of earthly succor or providential care or the joys of communion which were our Lord's constant portion throughout His life, but of complete desertion, leaving the blessed Sufferer alone to drink the unmingled cup of divine indignation against sin. This is what is meant by these awful words; and here, blessed be God, is where our once guilty souls can now rest, and for all eternity. Yea, where God's throne of justice and of glory also rests, and from which the entire economy of the divine rule in blessedness in heaven and in earth will forever be displayed. The cup has been drunk; the wrath has been borne; its full terror has pierced His inmost soul; our Lord no longer refuses to take the vinegar — not the deadening gall — that the very last word of Scripture may be fulfilled. The poor crowd are as ignorant of the scripture they were fulfilling on the one side as of the place Elias occupied on the other. He was calling upon the Lord God of Elijah, not upon His servant.

The end has come; all has been accomplished. The victory is with the glorious King: as though to show that all was even yet completely voluntary on His part, with strength undiminished He cries with a loud voice, and in kingly dignity completes the mighty transaction of redeeming love by dismissing His spirit.

The blessed consequences of the atoning work are at once seen. God would straightway glorify His Son. The veil of the temple that separated the presence of God from man, that hid the Throne and barred the way of access into His presence, was now rent in twain from the top to the bottom — not drawn aside or uplifted, but completely rent — thus declaring it never again could be put back. Scripture tells us the veil pictured the flesh of our Lord how appropriate, then, that as His blessed body was rent for our sins, that which was a type of Himself — in His personal perfection, and a witness against all sin — should be rent in twain to show how completely our sins had been put away.

Other results follow: the earth itself trembles; its adamantine rocks are rent, and the graves also are opened. The rending thus extends throughout the whole domain of the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is sweet to remember that hearts harder than the adamantine rock have from that day to this been rent in true penitence and delivered from the power of sin and death through this same Sacrifice.

Matthew goes on anticipatively to our Lord's resurrection to show the full, governmental results of His death. Not only were the graves opened, but many of the bodies of the saints which slept arose and came out of the graves after His resurrection, appearing in the holy. city. Thus we have a sample of that first resurrection which shall include the whole family of the redeemed, down to the last martyr that shall suffer before the introduction of our Lord's millennial kingdom. A deathless eternity of bliss is the final outcome of the amazing work our Lord accomplished on Calvary.

The scene closes now with the testimony of the centurion who, in fear, is constrained to acknowledge that this was the Son of God. The women who had followed Him are privileged to stand afar off and to gaze upon that wondrous sight. A little later they are to know the fulness of what it means.

Mark (Mark 15:21-41). As we have already found, the narrative of Mark closely resembles that of Matthew. A few things only therefore claim our attention. Simon is further identified for us as the father of Alexander and Rufus, evidently well known Christians at the time this Gospel was written. (See also Rom. 16:13," Rufus, … his mother and mine.") This falls in line with what we have already said about Simon.

In verse 23, the drink is spoken of as wine and myrrh instead of the vinegar and gall of Matthew. The wine was the ordinary, sour wine of the East, practically vinegar, and the bitter myrrh may have been a more specific name for the gall, though some think two substances are meant.

The hour when the actual crucifixion began is mentioned alone in Mark of the three synoptists (ver. 25). A briefer statement of the superscription is given here than in Matthew, His name being omitted. In connection with the crucifixion of the two thieves, the scripture which was thus fulfilled is quoted (ver. 28) — though some manuscripts omit this verse entirely.

The cry of our Lord is given in Aramaic form, the "Eli" becoming "Eloi." One explanation of this would be that in Matthew we have the Hebrew quotation from the 22nd psalm, while in Mark we have the form in which the exclamation was actually made by the blessed Sufferer. We do not dwell upon other possible explanations, while remembering there is a divine reason for the use of the two words. It has been suggested that the expression as given in Matthew, quoting directly from the Hebrew, is more appropriate to the close link of that governmental Gospel with the Old Testament.

Our Lord's death is also described by a different word. It is here simply "expired," "breathed His last." The differences in detail are without doubt appropriate to the differences of the two Gospels, though, as we shall find when gathering up the results of our examination, there is a close similarity between the kingly office characterizing Matthew, and the prophetic, largely prominent in Mark, which would account for the close resemblance of the two narratives of the atoning work of our Lord.

Luke (Luke 23:26-49). Simon the Cyrenian is mentioned here also, but our Lord addressing the company of women who followed in the sad procession is peculiar to Luke: "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children." The consequences of His rejection are solemnly set forth, even looking forward to the time when men shall call upon the mountains and hills to cover them.

If the "green tree" — the living Lord — is thus, for reasons of divine love, put into the fire of judgment, what shall be done with the dead, lifeless tree of formal Judaism, or with apostate Christendom?

Verse 34 gives us a beautiful touch peculiar also to Luke. He makes "intercession for the transgressors." This is in beautiful accord with the view of our Lord in Luke where He is ever seeking to bring man in peace to God. The soldiers seem to bear a special part here, joining in the general mockery of the ribald throng. The accusation against our Lord is similar to that in Matthew and Mark, while it tells us, appropriately with the world-wide theme of the Evangelist, that it was written in the three languages of the civilized world: in Greek, the language of literature, culture and business; in Latin, that of the political world; and in Hebrew, that of the religious. Thus all classes of men could read in their own tongue the record of their common guilt, and a witness of the wonderful love of God, conveyed in their own language — a little foreshadow of Pentecost.

The record of the salvation of one of the thieves is reserved for Luke. It is fitting that the Evangelist who has the gospel upon his heart throughout should give us this blessed instance of divine mercy. The more closely we examine it, the more will it be found that it is not an exceptional case, but the normal method of salvation. The one who but recently was a railer, is brought to repentance and saved by faith in Christ alone. Surely, we can say it is true of us also.

There is no cry of forsaken anguish here, although the darkness is mentioned and the rending of the veil. Luke does not dwell upon the depths of the atoning work, but turns to its blessed results. We hear again the "loud voice" of our Lord, as He now commends His spirit into the Father's hands, a statement peculiar to Luke, and the word for His death is the same as that in Mark, "He expired."

Appropriate to Luke, the centurion bears his witness that our Lord was a righteous Man; while the women and acquaintance are seen as they are in the other synoptists.

John (John 19:17-37). Several marked peculiarities are noticeable in the fourth Gospel, appropriate to the theme of the Evangelist. In general, we may say that they suggest the divine dignity of our Lord, recalling His words: "No man taketh it (My life) from Me … I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again." Thus, He is seen bearing His own cross. This in no way contradicts the fact that they compelled Simon the Cyrenian to bear it after Him. From the Gospel of Mark we would judge that at the beginning of the journey to Golgotha our Lord was bearing His own cross; and on the way, meeting Simon coming out of the country, they took the cross from our Lord and put it upon him.

John selects those features which emphasize his theme. We must not think that the change of the cross from our Lord to Simon intimated an inability on His part to bear the burden further. We refuse the thought; although it may be urged, as not inconsistent with the fact that in the agony of the Garden an angel appeared unto Him, strengthening Him. We instinctively shrink from an analysis of these holy subjects, yet would reverently consider every detail which the Spirit of God has given. There is always blessing in this. That our Lord was weary with His journey, that He slept, that He hungered and thirsted, and in every way, apart from sin, felt the pressure of the wilderness,we are plainly. told. That in the Garden this pressure was immeasurably intensified, as seen in His sweat of as it were great drops of blood, indicating the extreme of physical tension, in which God was pleased to minister to Him through an angel, as after the temptation in the wilderness — all this is perfectly true; but let us guard against any thought of infirmity or of inability to carry out to the full the work which He had set Himself to do.

There were other reasons beside that of weakness which would have led Him to yield up the cross to another, reasons at which we have already looked. That after still further anguish He was able at the close to cry with a loud voice, shows that His death was not due to exhaustion, but was the willing giving up in undiminished perfection the life He had taken in order that He might lay it down.

The title put on the cross is given more fully in John: "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." In common with Matthew, our Lord's personal name is given. No kingly dignity is equal to the dignity of what He was in Himself; even His divine glory as Son of God is pleased to dwell in this tabernacle, the lowly Jesus. Nazareth emphasizes still further this lowliness. Nathaniel had asked at the beginning: "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" and here, at the cross, that despised name has a place of honor in connection with the title of His royal dignity.

All four Evangelists state the same central fact, "The King of the Jews." It is this which the leaders seek to have set aside. It too plainly proclaimed the simple facts and their shame to all the world, written in Greek and Latin, as well as their own tongue. Pilate had just asked: "Shall I crucify your king?" They were quite willing to have the Lord Jesus crucified, and in the heat of the moment to renounce allegiance to any other king but Caesar. This title grates upon them, however, and they would have it altered. It seemed to declare that their actual king was there upon the cross; which was indeed the solemn truth. Pilate, yielding and vacillating enough when the life of the holy One was at stake, sacrificing Him knowingly to their bitter hatred, will not yield here. God would not allow it, and the poor puppet of authority suddenly speaks with all the finality of a true ruler: "What I have written, I have written."

He had written the truth, and nothing could alter that. But the King of the Jews, their Messiah, the Son of David, the One on whom rested all the promises for the future blessing and glory of Israel, their regathering to their land and the establishment of His millennial kingdom, now hung lifeless upon the cross! A crown of thorns was put upon Him, and the throne on which they placed Him was the cross! No completer ignominy could be conceived. No more relentless hatred could be imagined; He had been hunted to the death; they had gained their will; they had vented their hatred; they had accomplished their purpose, and their king, crowned with thorns, was enthroned upon a cross! It meant that they had deliberately given up all that went with Him. No "sure mercies of David" could there be, save through Him. They could contemplate the ruin which their own enmity had made, hopeless and irrevocable so far as they were concerned. Nothing was left but blood-guiltiness for them, and the wreck of all their hopes with the ever changing and ever debasing rule of Caesar instead of that of the Prince of Peace.

And yet, blessed be God, faith pauses here and gazing on that wondrous cross, sees there a throne compared with which the throne of David shrinks into insignificance. Justice and judgment are indeed the foundation of this throne, in connection with which not only will blessing be ministered to a reunited and happy Israel throughout the long, millennial day, but everlasting glory unto God and everlasting salvation to all the subjects of the Cross. The crown, as we look upon it, seems changed from the cruel thorns — the curse of the earth because of sin — and shines with all the lustre of glory and honor which God has put upon His brow who bore the curse for us.

The parting of the garments has also features peculiar to John. The quaternion of soldiers who had special charge of the actual crucifixion, divided His garments amongst themselves. The tunic, however, was a seamless robe and could not be divided without rending. They therefore cast lots for this, whose it should be. Thus is fulfilled a detail of Scripture which we cannot imagine a Jew reading without instinctively feeling that its fulfilment was accomplished at Calvary.

This seamless robe reminds us of many things. It seems first of all to suggest the perfection of the Lord in His humanity. It was the garment most closely associated with the person. The unity of the entire manhood of our Lord was thus marked and characteristic. There was nothing superfluous; nothing adventitious in Him. His perfect character, as His robe, was woven throughout and seamless; the product, may we say, of a life which had but one motive. In this way, His robe stands for Himself, for the perfection of His Person.

Such a garment must not be rent. Yet as we look about us today, we see the constant effort to rend the garment of Jesus. Some choose one part, and some another. Some confess that He was a beautiful character, and yet whose extravagant claims cannot be recognized. Others admit the perfection of His moral teachings but refuse to believe His miracles. All such efforts are rebuked by the poor soldiers who, as they looked upon this perfect robe, did not have the heart to rend it into pieces. To do so, would indeed have been to render valueless any part of it. The robe would be destroyed; the fragment obtained by each would be but a fragment and nothing more. Alas, there are many today, high in position and authority, with learning and human greatness, who have but a rent fragment of the seamless robe.

Similarly, the seamless robe is a type of Scripture which presents Christ to us in His perfection. Here again ruthless hands have sought to rend it asunder. They have ignored the fact that it is seamless, not a patchwork as the higher critic would make us believe, and as they make, for instance, the book of Genesis to be. This very Gospel of John they have sought to rend from its place in the Scriptures and relegate it to a later date, the product of Neo-Platonism or other human philosophy. We say again, let the poor Roman soldiers rise up in judgment with the men of this generation who seek to rend this seamless robe. It is woven from the top throughout. From the very first verse of Scripture to the last, it is one piece of consistent, harmonious, divine embroidery, the workmanship of the Holy Spirit, in whatever loom the fabric may have been wrought. The finished product is in our hands, and we, with the soldiers, say with all our heart, "Let us not rend it."

Whose then is this seamless garment to be? Thinking of it as the perfection of Christ, it is naturally awarded to every one who believes upon Him. To be found in Him, not having our own righteousness, but to have Christ indeed as our righteousness: this is to possess "the best robe," the "wedding garment," to have meetness "for the inheritance of the saints in light." It was given in connection with the lot, which among the Jews was always an appeal to God; and as it has been suggested, this appeal to the lot indicates that it is sovereign grace alone which awards this robe.

That there be no misconception, we add a word to guard against the teaching, quite venerable indeed, but unscriptural, which would divide the believer's justification into two parts: that secured by the passive obedience or sufferings of our Lord, and that which is the result of His own personal keeping of the law as our Substitute. No substitution in life, and no keeping of the law by the Lord could be imputed to us. The robe does not thus suggest the righteousness of Christ in the sense of His earthly walk in exchange for ours, but the perfection of Christ Himself, in which the believer now stands before God.

In connection with the vigil of the women from Galilee, spoken of in the other Gospels (Matt. 27:55-56; Mark 15:40-41; Luke 23:49), John alone gives the touching incident of His mother at the cross. It is worthy of note that this Gospel, which gives no account of the birth and early life of our Lord, makes more mention of His mother during our Lord's public ministry than any other of the Evangelists. At the marriage in Cana of Galilee, she speaks to Him and is answered, not harshly, but faithfully by the Lord. He must show her, there, that the relationship according to the flesh cannot intrude into those divine relationships which to Him must be supreme. Later, she accompanies Him to Capernaum; and here we see the sword piercing her own heart as she stands by the cross. We see no shadow of resentment in her heart when our Lord spoke so faithfully to her in Cana, for at once she says to the servants: "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it." Here, at the cross, there is no danger of her misunderstanding her place. How transcendent is the thought! Upon the cross is the eternal Son of God, the perfect Man, the King of the Jews, accomplishing that work of redemption which the divine counsels had decreed from all eternity; He it is upon whom the whole universe was dependent, yet as Man enduring all possible sufferings. At such a time we see Him giving deliberate attention to a minute detail. Nothing will make Him forget the love and respect which He ever had for His mother. Rome may blasphemously degrade everything by putting the creature upon the throne of God, claiming a homage and worship for the tender mother of our Lord which would have filled her with horror. Rome fails to see the exquisite beauty of what we have here; for truth perverted, is robbed of all its attractiveness and value.

"The disciple whom Jesus loved is entrusted with the care of our Lord's mother, not merely as guardian or servant, but in all the intimacy and affection of son and mother. Let us remember that the expression, "the disciple whom Jesus loved" does not suggest partiality, which was utterly foreign to our blessed Lord. John held no monopoly of this term, which was for all the disciples; but he seems to have entered more fully into the truth that the expression conveys. It was not the disciple who loved Jesus, but who is quite content to know that he is loved by his Lord. Happy indeed are we if we know this also! It enables us to enter into, and be entrusted with that which is dearest to Him.

Typically, it seems that Mary answers to Israel, the nation "of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came" and who is ever dear to the Lord; of whom indeed He says: "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love." During the present period, Israel is doubly bereft, a widow, and the Son in whom all her hopes centered, taken from her. A remnant according to the election of grace has ever remained, who by their faith show they are the true Israel of God. We need not say how fully such have been cared for in the new dispensation of grace in which we live.

So also, in a very real way, the Church is the guardian of Israel's hopes as to the future. The Jews themselves at the present time have practically given up all hope, at least in any spiritual way; but the Church, if in the state suggested by those words, "the disciple whom Jesus loved," is still the guardian of the promises made to the fathers which teach that "All Israel shall be saved."

One thing more which, after the manner of our Evangelist, has a character all its own. Twice in this Gospel of the Son of God, our Lord's bodily needs are spoken of; twice He asks that His thirst may be quenched. There is a blessed connection between the two requests. We do not read indeed that lie received the draft of water from the woman of Samaria, but how His soul was refreshed by one brought out of distance and shame into the joy of the gift of God. Thus He could say: "I have meat to eat that ye know not of." It is this thirst, we may be sure, that filled His holy soul more intensely than bodily craving for water upon the cross. He does not ask simply to have His thirst relieved, but that every word of Scripture, the immutable purposes of God as recorded by the Holy Spirit, should be fulfilled to the very last jot. Thus it is that, all other things having been accomplished, this scripture too must be fulfilled. In the deliberateness of divine omniscience and power, our Lord accomplishes in meekness and lowliness every word written. It is after this that those blessed words are uttered: "It is finished" — referring surely to more than the draft of vinegar which He had received.

There is a fulness in the word of God which we are slow to apprehend. We may ask ourselves the question: What was "finished" there? First, the prediction of Scripture directly referred to; and without doubt, every other prediction which had been previously mentioned, or even if not mentioned here, was now completed. So were all the types, whether of the Lord's individual life, of His obedience, or of sacrificial ordinances, all were now fulfilled. This last word of our Lord sets the seal upon everything that had been written of Him, in the Law, the Prophets, or the Psalms. We can write over every type and shadow — of Abel's sacrifice, the offering up of Isaac, the life of Joseph, of David, and the multitude of others — these blessed words: "It is finished." That of which they spoke has now been accomplished to the utmost.

So, too, the law, with all its holy requirements, with its inflexible judgment of sin, has been fulfilled. We can look upon those ten commandments, by each one of which we have been condemned as having come short of the glory of God, and see written across them in letters of blood: "It is finished." Their penalty has been met and our salvation secured.

In brief, the whole work of redemption by which God's righteousness was glorified, His love displayed, the sinner's need met and everlasting glory secured, was here accomplished, and "It is finished" is the resting place for the eternal God, the new creation, and every trembling sinner who will accept this finished work.

The closing act of all, His actual death, is unquestionably included in these words; uttering them He bows His head, or in the lovely language of the original, "inclines His head," like the setting of the sun, and delivers up His sinless spirit into the hands of His Father, whose infinite greatness in holiness and love we may be sure thrills with divine delight in His Beloved such as no creature can ever know.

The petty, shallow legalism of His murderers, as they seek to remove the bodies lest their pretended sanctity should be shocked by a violation of the Sabbath, would jar upon us in the record of it here were it not that our blessed God causes the folly as well as the wrath of man to praise Him. It only gives occasion for the fulfilment of two other scriptures which must take place after His death. The brutal soldiery have no scruples about mutilating the bodies of their victims and crushing the remains of life out of them. The Jews indeed would have this done with all three victims; and the soldiers carry it out with the two thieves, but find it needless when they come to the Lord. He is dead already; for no man can take His life from Him. He had power to lay it down of Himself, as He had also power to take it again. No mutilation is allowed to disfigure the body of the Holy One; but a soldier's spear pierces through His heart. In mere wanton cruelty it may be, or to insure the certainty of death, but whatever his motive he was but accomplishing the word of God. It had been written: "They shall look upon Me whom they pierced;" the piercing therefore must take place. But, truly, it was our sin which pierced the Lord — which made it necessary. This piercing tells us both of the rejection of their Messiah by His own, and of the work by which that very enmity shall be abolished.

Of the passover it was said: "Ye shall break no bone thereof;" the lamb was to be kept entire. So, too, with the true passover Lamb, a bone should not be broken. It is the whole Christ who has given Himself up for us upon whom we feed, and shall for all eternity.

6. The Burial

We seek not to dissect the precious truths which are linked with our Lord's crucifixion, death and burial, but to distinguish certain elements in His atoning work. For instance, His sufferings at the hand of man are evidently the preliminary ones, while the darkness and the forsaking of

God speak of the bearing of actual wrath and judgment. These having been borne, the Lord then delivers Himself up unto death, a necessary element of atonement, surely; but, may we not say, it is the governmental side of it: death being the bodily or physical penalty of sin, while judgment is the spiritual side, and for man, eternal.*

{*This raises a question which is sometimes asked. If the judgment of sin is eternal, how could a brief period of wrath-bearing by our Lord be an exact substitute for it? The infinite dignity of the Person gives a value to His sufferings which more than equals an eternity of suffering by the creature, and yet equal justice would not call this an exact substitute. Were it so, it might be claimed that even lesser sufferings would have been sufficient when we remember the immeasurable glory of the One suffering. This theory of atonement has been given; but it is not substituted penalty, but the actual infliction of wrath that is taught in Scripture. Is not the true answer to the question, this: that the moral character of sin and the sinner remaining unchanged, its punishment is of necessity eternal? "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still" (Rev. 22:11). Our Lord speaks of the guilt of an eternal sin (Mark 3:29), as the words should be rendered.

Little do men realize the horror of eternal impenitence — that fixed moral state in which the soul is powerless to judge of the evil or even desire freedom from it. This is evidently the character of Satan, whose moral hatred of God and all that is good is eternally fixed, involving therefore the necessity for his eternal judgment; which is also true of all the finally impenitent.

With our blessed Lord, "in whom was no sin," there was absolutely nothing but the outward infliction of wrath. God withdraws Himself from Him, pouring out upon Him the indignation and wrath which sin deserves. It finds Him, and leaves Him, with a heart as absolutely true to God and all that is holy and good as when He was basking in the sunlight of the glories of the transfiguration. Indeed, His place and circumstances had nothing whatever to do with His state, which was unchangeably the same — a heart filled with delight in the will of God, no matter what that will might be. Therefore, the infliction of the penalty was absolute; but, abiding perfect through it all, no divine necessity existed for the continuance of the penalty. "Once for all" it had been put upon Him, and that settled forever all the claims of divine justice.

Having finished the work which had been given Him to do, the resurrection is God's answer to our Lord's moral state. "He was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father," and this as the representative of His people whose sins He had put away.}

All is over now. The jeer, the smiting with the rod, the buffeting, the spitting, the inflictions of suffering by man, the last dreg of the cup of divine wrath and judgment; life itself has been given up, and the precious body in which the jewel of divine glory, and the spirit and affections of perfect Manhood were enshrined, hangs lifeless upon the cross. His enemies have done their worst, and He, blessed forever be His name, has done His best for God's eternal glory in our blessing. Therefore, His burial is not in the hands of enemies but of those who loved and worshiped Him. Indeed, His death seems to have been the occasion for Joseph to throw off his timidity and to come boldly craving the privilege and honor of caring for His body. Nicodemus, too, no longer follows afar off, but takes his place openly as a disciple. Loving hands lift Him down from that dreadful gibbet, where no bone of His was allowed to be broken, and whose piercing was more as the fulfilment of Scripture than the wanton act of brutality.

As has been suggested, the care about our Lord's burial is the beginning of God's response: "He shall straightway glorify Him." Indeed, the narrative of the burial may well be connected with that of the resurrection.* The ashes of the sacrifice which had been burnt upon the altar were gathered up and carried outside the camp and deposited in a clean place.

{*This is done in the Numerical Bible, The Gospels, page 268, etc.}

But we turn to the narrative as given in each of the Evangelists.

Matthew (Matt. 27:57-66). The evening comes on. "Man's day" is over as to our blessed Lord, as it will soon be over for us (1 Cor. 4:3, margin). The details here are suggestive: "There came a rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple" (ver. 57).

Our Lord was not in the company of many rich during His ministry, but rather felt their aloofness. He was the "Friend of publicans and sinners." The poor had the gospel preached to them; and not many wise, mighty or noble are called; but there is a certain fitness in a rich man, a true disciple, coming forward here. A poor man would not have had a new sepulchre of his own; and is there not a suggestion of millennial times when riches and honor shall be poured out at the feet of our Lord?

As given in our ordinary version, the grave and the death of our Lord are not separated in Isa. 53:9, and we are obliged to disentangle the two. The literal Hebrew is: "He (one) shall appoint His grave with the wicked, but (He shall be) with a rich man in His death." In delivering the Lord Jesus to be crucified as a malefactor, Pilate was appointing His grave with the wicked; crucified between two thieves, it was natural that His body also should receive the same treatment as theirs — probably burned in the valley of Hinnom. No such place could be for Him; no desecration of the body of God's holy One can be permitted; and the appointment of Pilate is set aside. Indeed, he himself reverses it by delivering over the body to the rich man, Joseph.

Joseph, "He will add," reminds us of the first Joseph, a type of our Lord in humiliation and in glory. He is from Arimathea, apparently the Greek form of Ramathaim, "double heights," of earthly and heavenly exaltation? — which with the added Zophim, was the abode of Elkanah and Hannah, who also were closely connected with the sorrows and joys of the hope of Israel; Hannah in her song celebrating the coming of God's King.

What must have been the thoughts of Pilate when he granted Joseph's request? Here was one of the great men of the nation on the side of the One whose innocent blood Pilate had caused to be shed.

The body is wrapped in that which was emblematic of our Lord's perfect humanity, a clean linen cloth; white linen representing purity and righteousness, as "the fine linen is the righteousnesses of saints." The body is laid in a new tomb — not in the earth in apparent fulfilment of these words, "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" — but in the enduring rock which does not disintegrate, a fitting receptacle for His body which saw no corruption and which could not be holden of death. The stone closes the door, shutting the world outside, and, in the thoughts even of His own, closing the door to all the bright hopes which they had entertained: "We trusted that it had been He" they said "which should have redeemed Israel."

Joseph departs, not in indifference, we may be sure, but having accomplished his precious task. The women, however, cannot tear themselves away from the spot. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary keep the vigil of love.

If enmity has done its last work, unbelief and an uneasy conscience still urge on the chief priests and Pharisees. Unconsciously to themselves, they are to furnish fresh proof of the reality of our Lord's resurrection. Remembering His words that He should rise on the third day, they would have the tomb guarded, so that His disciples could not steal Him away. Pilate gives command that this shall be done; and so, in spite of themselves, His enemies are to be made witnesses of His resurrection, and thus refute any possible charge that His body had been taken away.

Mark (Mark 15:42-47). Mark adds few details to Matthew. Joseph is spoken of as an "honorable counsellor;" that is, a member of the Sanhedrin, who was waiting for the kingdom of God. He went in "boldly" to Pilate, who wonders that the Lord is dead, and first asks the centurion, as would be natural for a Roman, if such is the case.

The fine linen is "bought," which reminds us that Joseph was a rich man. "The other Mary," spoken of in Matthew, is here "the mother of Joses," who with Mary Magdalene beheld the place where the body was laid.

Luke (Luke 23:50-56). Luke adds a few other details as to Joseph, quite fitting to his Gospel. He was "a good man and a just" one who, as a counsellor, had not consented to their decision and act. His city, Arimathea, is "a city of the Jews" that is, in Judea. With Mark, Luke tells us that he waited for the kingdom of God.

The "new tomb" in Matthew is described more fully as one "wherein never man before was laid." Mark does not speak of this feature — the sin offering was burnt without the gate.

In Luke the presence of the women that had come with Him from Galilee is spoken of more fully. They beheld the sepulchre and the manner in which His body was laid, and then returned to prepare spices and ointments, resting on the Sabbath according to the commandment. Thus, even in His death, our blessed Lord was magnifying the law. He indeed had reached the Sabbath of God and so, typically, had His people. Appropriately thus, they rested on the holy day.

John (John 19:38-42). Joseph is not here spoken of as a member of the Council. His previous discipleship, of so timid a character that it had not been publicly made known, is mentioned. Often, the most timid become the boldest at critical times. Nicodemus, too, comes out boldly into the light. What a contrast with his first coming to Jesus by night, or even that pleading for fair dealing which we have in John 7:50-52! Both these men were members of the Sanhedrin. Thus, we find a remnant — though probably not present — even in the tribunal which had condemned our Lord.

Nicodemus brings a mixture of myrrh and aloes, fragrant spices used in connection with death, a large quantity of these, about one hundred pound weight. This is in fitting accord with this Gospel. No expenditure of precious spices could fully set forth the fragrance of the death of the Son of God.

The linen clothes tell us of a life of perfect righteousness in which the fragrance had ever gone up to God and therefore could not be wanting in His death. John speaks of a garden being in the place where the Lord was, and in this garden the new tomb which both Matthew and Luke are careful to tell us had been undefiled by the presence of death. God would ever separate the death of His Son from all others, and He who saw no corruption was to rest in a tomb in consonance with this. It is fitting that it should be in a garden. Death entered in a garden, from which our first parents were cast out; and when the consequences of sin had been put away the garden appears again. There is another garden, the Paradise of God; this one lies between the forfeited first and the promised one to come. What fruits for all eternity, we may say, have grown in this garden where the tomb was! There was sown the Corn of wheat which has produced such a harvest. We can think of this garden as a suggestion of the fruitfulness resulting from our Lord's death even in this present world. As the cave of Machpelah was surrounded by a field with trees growing in it, an emblem of resurrection, so the garden about the tomb of our Lord speaks of life and the anticipation of His resurrection. There they laid Him, a preparation indeed, a preparation for the eternal Sabbath of God, in infinite contrast with the legal "preparation of the Jews."

3. The Resurrection

The resurrection is at the very foundation of the Christian faith as the apostle declares: "If Christ be not raised … ye are yet in your sins." In the stirring days of Pentecost the great truth dwelt upon in the apostles' testimony was not so much the nature of our Lord's atoning death, as the great fact of His resurrection: "With great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection."

Doctrinally, we may look at it in relation to God, in relation to Christ, in relation to His people and to the world.

In relation to God, His every attribute has been so perfectly glorified by the atoning death of our blessed Lord, that the resurrection is declared to be "by the glory of the Father," as though that glory, which the Son had vindicated and manifested so perfectly, waited for the very first moment at the sepulchre on the first day of the week to call out from death the perfect obedient One.

As to Christ, His resurrection was His complete vindication. On the cross, He had hung in the darkness. Man had hated and scorned Him God had forsaken Him; the resurrection proclaims Him completely vindicated, justified in the highest sense of the word. His place at the right hand of the Majesty on high is that given Him by divine righteousness as the measure of His own acceptance.

And that acceptance, blessed be God, is also the measure of the believer's, for Christ was not only raised from the dead by the glory of the Father and glorified by the Father, but "He was raised again for our justification."

Solemn indeed the thought that His resurrection is also the pledge of future judgment upon the world which crucified Him. The Spirit of God convicts of righteousness "because I go to the Father." Christ's righteousness has been proclaimed by His ascent to the Father, and that same ascent is the conviction of the world's guilt. The righteousness in which God delights is that which the world has rejected. We need not wonder, then, at the solemn fact that God "hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men in that He hath raised Him from the dead."

These few thoughts, with many others, will serve to show the immense importance of the great fact of the resurrection. It is that which we must never forget. "Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel." It is this history which we now wish to look at as narrated by each of the four Evangelists, noting what is peculiar to each and the appropriateness of that peculiarity.

Matthew (Matt. 28). As the women were the witnesses of the final acts connected with His burial, so were they to be of His resurrection. How significant are the words "in the end of the Sabbath," as reminding us of the end of the old dispensation, the dawning indeed of a new first day in which probably even the old manner of marking the days from sunset to sunset is changed, so that now the day begins with the morning.

There had been an earthquake at His death. There is another at His resurrection. Mount Sinai trembled at the presence of the Lord, and the Lord of Sinai is here manifested in a more marvelous way, the way of grace.

The presence of the angel, appropriate to the governmental Gospel of Matthew, is noted here. The stone is rolled back from the door; the keepers become as dead men in his majestic presence, while he reassures the trembling women. They were seeking Jesus — not watching as enemies. To them, the glorious truth: "He is not here; He is risen" is proclaimed;

Come, see the place where the Lord lay." The empty tomb thus confirms the angel's words, and they are sent forth to tell His disciples and to name the trysting place in Galilee. Overwhelmed with joy, they go out to bring the disciples word and are met by the blessed Lord who is always better than His promises and who meets them before they come to Galilee with His words of "Hail." What a moment! Who can realize the joy that filled the heart of our Lord in those simple, triumphant words, "All hail!" No wonder that the women held Him by the feet and worshiped Him unrebuked here, for the whole scene has to do with the kingdom, and therefore our Lord's ascension is not mentioned in this Gospel.

Our Lord repeats the angel's direction to tell His "brethren" — new and precious title, for the first time given, and for all His own. These, He is not ashamed to call His brethren.

The lie of the Jews, in their extremity, with deliberate plot to deny the resurrection is told here. The council which had condemned the Lord to death does not scruple to bribe the Roman guard to say His disciples came and stole Him away. It was a death offence for a soldier to sleep upon guard, but the governor, who had unjustly delivered Jesus to their will, would not scruple to a little act like sparing the guilty soldiers, having already put himself under the power of the chief priests by his unrighteous act. This falsehood therefore is reported amongst the Jews, even to our own times.

Then the meeting in Galilee is mentioned. It had been the principal scene of our Lord's ministry, where He also seems to have had the greatest hearing. There are three great mountain scenes mentioned in the Gospels: the sermon on the mount, the transfiguration on the mount, and the resurrection-meeting on the mount; to which we may add His ascension from a mount. The mountain suggests moral elevation and separation. The first mountain speaks of the elevation of His teaching; the second, of the glory of His person; the third, of the fact of His resurrection.

They worship Him, but some seem still to doubt. This may not apply to the eleven disciples, whom our Lord had met before, as Luke tells us; while in John we learn that even Thomas' doubts were set at rest. In the epistle to the Corinthians, the apostle speaks of the Lord being seen by five hundred brethren at once; so while only the eleven are mentioned in Matthew, as having gone to the mountain as the Lord appointed them, it is more than likely that these five hundred brethren came together at the same time; of these some may have been doubters. (See 1 Cor. 15:6.)

In Galilee, the great commission is given. It stands, we may say, between the assurance of our Lord's omnipotence and of His special omnipresence. We say "special" because it is not merely His presence as God everywhere, but "Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the age" — a special presence, to defend, sustain, uphold, empower His disciples. Therefore they are to go and teach all nations; that is, make disciples of all nations, of course through the preaching of the gospel, but a discipleship which seems, in the very terms in which it is described, to be along the lines of that kingdom of heaven whose mysteries our Lord had previously unfolded.* It is this which explains why baptism has so prominent a place here. The two keys of the kingdom, baptizing — the external or physical, and teaching, the internal or mental key. Disciples are thus made by the preaching and the teaching of the truth, and baptized into the kingdom in the name of the triune God who has been fully revealed in the person of His Son.

{*The exact rendering of this passage is: "Go ye therefore and disciple all the nations, baptizing them unto the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have enjoined to you."}

Mark (Mark 16). The narrative in Mark, while it resembles that in Matthew, does not follow it as closely as we have been noticing heretofore.

The women come in the morning with spices to embalm the Lord's body. They speak of the impossibility of their rolling away the stone from the door of the sepulchre, finding, as we so often do, that it is useless to anticipate difficulties. The stone was already rolled away, a thing which they could not have done. They enter into the sepulchre, and the angel is seen as a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long, white garment. A young man had fled when our Lord was arrested; the most courageous of earth could not stand firm then. Here, a witness from heaven, clothed in purity, tells of our Lord's victory. They are to tell the glad tidings to the disciples, and in touching grace Peter is mentioned by name; the meeting place in Galilee is also spoken of. The women's fear is spoken of, rather than their joy. They do not speak to any about what they had seen.

The narrative would close here with apparent abruptness, if indeed we are to accept the view of a large number of authorities who claim that the oldest manuscripts do not have the remainder of chap. 16. This is not the place to enter into the question of manuscript authority in detail; we will only say that there is no sufficient reason to warrant our refusal of what follows. It could easily have been omitted in some of the earlier manuscripts because of the apparent difference between it and what had gone before; but when we see that these remaining verses evidently give us a summary of various appearings of our Lord, and not a continued narrative of what took place after the resurrection, the difficulty is removed.

Verses 9-20 therefore give us a summary of various appearings of our Lord to different persons after His resurrection: First, to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons (vers. 9-11). How beautiful it is that the one who had been so absolutely under the power of Satan should be the first to witness our Lord's triumph over him. She comes to tell the others and they do not believe her. This narrative coincides with that in the Gospel of John.

Next, verses 12 and 13 mention what seems to be identical with the journey to Emmaus more fully given by Luke. There may be some difficulty about verse 13: "They went and told it unto the residue; neither believed they them;" while we know from Luke that when they returned from Emmaus, they found the eleven gathered together, saying, The Lord is risen indeed and hath appeared to Simon," and while thus speaking together, the Lord Himself appears among them. We will look at this, however, in a further connection.

The next appearing was to the eleven as they sat at meat (ver. 14), when He upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart. This may possibly be in Galilee. It is confessedly difficult to harmonize this with the narratives in the other Gospels; for there, faith is emphasized; here unbelief. A possible solution may be that in Mark, in each of these appearings, unbelief is prominent in the narrative and may have gone side by side with the faith. Both, we know, are in our own hearts, and perhaps each had a place in the hearts of the disciples who could believe and yet not altogether believe; could rejoice and yet not be fully persuaded.

The great commission is given (vers. 15-18), with certain characteristic features appropriate to Mark. It is the gospel which is preached in all the world, "to every creature." Salvation, our own membership in the kingdom, is to be the result of faith. We need hardly say that baptism as linked with believing is not meant to be put on an equality with faith, but rather as the full confession of that faith. The salvation is proclaimed in the act as it is secured by the faith.

Then, the signs which follow the miraculous power are peculiar to Mark. The apostle Paul illustrated these in his shipwreck journey to Rome.

The last two verses of the Gospel (vers. 19, 20) record our Lord's ascension, not in detail, but the great general truth that He was received up into heaven and sat on the right hand of God. The disciples go forth as sent by Him, and the blessed Master, still with a heart of service unchanged, works with them, wherever they may be.

Luke (Luke 24). Luke and John give the fullest details of the resurrection history. The personal element predominates in Luke from the human side, and in John from the divine, contrasting thus with the official in the first two Gospels. It is delightful to note the similarity between the first chapters of Luke and the last. In both, the narrative flows so simply and naturally, dwelling with loving detail upon points passed over or but slightly noticed in other Gospels. The human interest is paramount here. We rise from the perusal of the Gospel of Luke with the conviction that here we have the record of a Man, whatever else He may have been. A human heart of tender interest in the every day life, difficulties, trials, needs and sorrows of men is manifest throughout the entire history. In resurrection, this is unchanged. We still see "the Man Christ Jesus," the same as before the cross, whatever change may have taken place in His circumstances and in His own connection with His disciples and the world; though having now a resurrection body, yet we feel there is the unchanged, tender, loving, gracious, holy heart of the One whom they had learned to know and love while He was yet with them.

The account of the women at the sepulchre (vers. 1-11) is a slight enlargement of that in Matthew and Mark, with a few additions. Instead of the angel in his majesty, an appropriate kingly attendant, as in Matthew, or as a young man in a long, white robe, as in Mark, we have two men, suggesting both the general theme of the Gospel of the Son of Man, and sufficient witness of His resurrection. They are not, as the one in Mark, sitting, but they stood by them in shining garments. Their question is appropriate to our Gospel: "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen," and then reminding them of His words when He was in Galilee. This part is peculiar to Luke and very instructive. On returning to the eleven and the rest of the disciples, they are met with the same incredulity which is noted in Mark.

Peter's visit to the sepulchre (ver. 12), of which we have a fuller account in the Gospel of John, is given here and shows how the beloved apostle had returned in his soul from his shameful denial. It also illustrates how an Evangelist may record one feature in a narrative to the exclusion of others without in the least contradicting them. We would not suppose, for instance, that John had been with Peter at the sepulchre from this narrative, but as we examine it, we find nothing contradictory to that. When once this truth is fully grasped, we will have a key which will explain the vast majority of the difficulties in the various narratives.

We come next to that which is the special beauty of Luke, referred to in. Mark, however, as we have seen. It is the narrative of the journey to Emmaus (vers. 13-35). Emmaus was a considerable distance from Jerusalem, and the journey of the two disciples thither (the name of one alone is given, Cleopas) suggests a turning away from Jerusalem as though nothing further could be expected there. The Lord's crucifixion and burial had been as a burial of all their hopes; yet it was not from lack of interest, but rather lack of faith, for they still were absorbed with all that had taken place and evidently showed their sorrow in their very faces. These two may well stand for the attitude of all the disciples after our Lord's resurrection, showing an utter failure to grasp its tremendous import. Indeed, while the fact of the resurrection was soon incontrovertibly established in their souls, Pentecost alone brought out its true meaning for them; but until the Holy Spirit led them in heart into the larger truth (even then not with full intelligence at the first) their thoughts gravitated back to the Jewish national hopes and earthly expectations. But the cross had ended all these, and the resurrection itself could not restore them in the form in which they had been held before.

The attitude of these two disciples on their way to Emmaus, suggests a personal application to ourselves where there is failure to apprehend in its reality what the resurrection of our Lord means. This may be either through ignorance of what is involved in it, or forgetfulness through coldness and indifference. In either case, the effect is the same: distance and wandering will result. The heart of these disciples was occupied with their loss; and though their backs were to Jerusalem, their hearts were still there, or rather at that tomb — occupied with all that had taken place and in sorrow over what seemed to them the end of their brightest expectations.

Our Lord had observed this condition, and observes it still wherever it exists. When the heart is thus affected, even though it be in sorrow only at the loss of what it held dear, He will come in and minister to its need.

He appears to them, however, as it says in Mark "in another form," or, as here," their eyes were holden that they should not know Him." In His divine power our Lord can at any time manifest Himself in various ways and forms, for Omnipotence can do all things; but an evident difference seems to exist here. Not but that He could appear to them identically as He had been before His death; but the suggestion is that in resurrection He was not on the same plane that He was before, but on a higher one in which then and now faith alone can apprehend Him. Our poor, earthbound thoughts are slow to grasp the transcendent and magnificent reality of resurrection. How it introduces into a sphere of existence whose breadth and activities immeasurably exceed the circumscribed conditions in which we now live! Thus, the Lord could stand by Paul again and again, strengthening and encouraging him; and is not His own promise, as given in Matthew, "Lo, I am with you alway," an assurance that even if our eyes are holden that we should not recognize Him, He is personally with His people, our blessed, risen Lord?

This apparent distance, however, but gives the greater freedom for access to the disciples in the most effectual way. They had a lesson to learn which, reverently be it said, was even more necessary than any that His visible manifestation could impart. Many deeply interesting thoughts press here, which we must leave for individual study. But how exceedingly natural it all is! The Lord does not make use of His divine knowledge of what is in their hearts, but seeks to draw it out, even as God at the beginning would ask our father Adam: "Where art thou?" though surely knowing where he was.

Conscience and heart must be awakened and called into exercise; so our Lord asks in the simplest way the nature of their conversation because of their sorrow. When they in apparent surprise ask if He is but a stranger in Jerusalem and unacquainted with the stirring and solemn events that had been taking place, He does not even then cease His questioning. He must have, from their own lips, their account of these things. This they give, showing at once their faith and how their whole souls were taken up with the Lord. It must have refreshed His blessed heart to have them express it thus; in spite of their ignorance and disappointment, in spite of the feebleness of their faith, love to Him was there: "We trusted that it had been He who should have redeemed Israel" tells not of a simply dead hope, but a sleeping one. They referred, too, to what the women had said and the fact that it was the third day. Evidently, their hearts have been deeply stirred by this, and there was a longing which had not been met. They could not grasp the meaning of what had taken place.

Having now opened their hearts to Him, our Lord can speak freely to them, ministering just what was needed. This was a testimony from the word of God itself, apart from all confirmatory events which might come under their own eye, apart indeed from His own personal manifestation of Himself to them — that the resurrection was a necessity from the word of God. They are reproached for their foolishness and slowness of heart — the two still go together — a slowness manifested in not believing all that had been written in the word of God. He brings them back therefore to that Word. His general thesis is," Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory? "

This is indeed the theme of all Old Testament Scripture — the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. So, patiently, beginning at the beginning — shall we say at Abel and the Garden of Eden? — in Moses and all the Prophets, He expounds unto them that which will illustrate and confirm His words to them. All this at once shows us, first, what is in the Lord's heart for His people, a desire they should have an absolute conviction of the truth of His word apart from their personal feelings or experiences; and it shows us that the Old Testament Scriptures declare the resurrection as well as the sufferings of our Lord.

Perhaps in our present knowledge of the fact of His resurrection, we have somewhat overlooked this side of Old Testament type and not given as full a place as belongs to it. The ark resting upon Ararat, suggests the resurrection. Isaac is received from the dead in a figure. Joseph is exalted to the throne. The passover lamb is followed by the opening of the Red Sea. The living bird is let loose with the blood upon it of the one that had been sacrificed; and other types show us that the resurrection occupies a place as distinct and prominent in its way as the Cross itself. Therefore, "the things concerning Himself" include His resurrection as well as His perfect life and atoning sufferings.

Such ministry has its effect upon their hearts by making them long for more, and though they do not even yet recognize the One who has opened to them the Scriptures, their hearts burn and they constrain Him to come in and abide with them. Wherever this effect is present, we may be sure the Lord will manifest Himself. "If a man love Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him and we will come unto him and make our abode with him." This is the reason why our Lord manifests Himself unto us and not unto the world. The keeping of His word, while it includes the question of obedience and subjection to it, is not its limit. It implies also a love for and occupation with it which make us hold it fast, and prize whatever opens it to our understanding.

The way is now prepared for what follows. Where the heart is open and subject to the truth set forth in God's word, there is a recognition of Christ — He is manifested to the heart. Apart from the Word it would be sporadic and temporary. It is this which stamps the fables of Rome with their untruthfulness. Visions and revelations, professedly received, are not only unsupported by, but contradictory to the word of God, and therefore have no value where real faith is in exercise. If this is true of the false miracles of Rome in the fullest sense, it is true also of the real miracles recorded in the Scriptures. They have no value apart from faith. This is abundantly proven in our Lord's life, and its confirmation is here before us.

The act of breaking bread at their simple evening meal is exquisitely human and simple; it could have been seen, no doubt, in many a lowly home — a few gathered around a table with their humble food before them, turning for a moment to thank God for His mercies. This simple meal is transformed here; the Breaker of bread is One who recalls to them in this act a former scene. In an instant, their minds are carried back to that upper room after the passover supper; their eyes are opened and they know Him.

In the personal application of all this, may we not say that wherever there is that preparedness of heart by faith in and subjection to the word of God, in many a simple act, not necessarily in the "breaking of bread," but in numberless little ways, the Lord will recall His past grace to us, and the heart may not only burn, but there is a flash of recognition of Himself, and the soul is restored to its former enjoyments.

The effect of all this is immediate and remarkable. Fatigue, distance, night, are all ignored. Back they must go with the joyful, masterful news to the rest of the disciples. They are witnesses, not merely orthodox believers in Scripture, but those who themselves have had a view of the Lord. Such a view unseals the lips. They must, they cannot but speak. We know that even yet they must wait for the promise of the Father, but the fact itself of the resurrection is now known to them as a reality, the faith of which could never be shaken out of their souls. They go back to Jerusalem with their news, to find like news meeting them — "the Lord is risen indeed and has appeared to Simon." And so they can mingle their joyful experiences together.

But this is not enough. Our Lord is not satisfied with manifesting Himself to a few. He would confirm all in this great joy. Therefore, He Himself comes into their midst.

Verses 36-49. This is evidently the first of the appearings which is recorded in the Gospel of John. "Peace be unto you" identifies it. What a comment their terror is, and how it shows that those who but a moment before were declaring that the Lord was risen indeed are overwhelmed by His presence! Thus, again and again God would remind us that unbelief and faith find a lodgment in the same heart. We know it only too well.

Our Lord reassures them in the most natural manner. They think He is a spirit; thoughts arise in their hearts. Let them therefore handle Him, as later He offered to Thomas His hands and His side. "A spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have." That it is Jesus Himself is yet too wonderful and too good to be true. A little more confirmation is needed; and this He anticipates and provides for by asking for and partaking of some of their ordinary food which might be at hand. Thus, their last doubts are removed and they can now learn the meaning of all this wondrous fact.

Again, He speaks of the confirmation of all that was written in the Old Testament, in all the divisions of the sacred volume — the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms or sacred writings; they all spoke of Him and gave witness of His death and resurrection. He opens their understanding, not merely enabling them to receive, but doubtless giving them many a blessed illustration of what the Scriptures taught. Thus, He was anticipating that blessed work of the Holy Spirit which continues throughout the entire present dispensation. We have the enlargement of these few verses in the inspired writings of the New Testament — the constant ministry of the Holy Spirit using them to unfold the meaning of the Old Testament. Blessed be God, He is still going on with this.

The great themes are the sufferings of Christ, His resurrection, and their blessed results in the preaching of repentance and forgiveness of sins, world-wide, beginning with Jerusalem where He had been crucified. They are witnesses of all these things; and as the power to enable them to testify intelligently, as well as for all their service in unfolding and declaring the grace of God and His counsels as to Christ, He gives them the promise of the Holy Spirit whose coming they were to await at Jerusalem. They then would be endued with the power of which He speaks. All this, thank God, is familiar to us in good measure; yet how delightful it is to dwell upon it, and find ourselves led on, beyond our more immediate theme perhaps, to note the various steps which divine grace and love have taken to meet our every need. Thus, fittingly, Luke anticipates the narrative of the book of Acts, of which also he is the author.

The ascension follows now (vers. 50-53). He leads them outside Jerusalem as far as Bethany, "the house of humiliation." Here He bestows upon them His parting blessing, in the act of which He is separated from them and rises into a scene where He is lost to sight, but not to faith. The joy of it all so fills their hearts that it can only express itself in worship.

John (John 20, 21). After the manner that we have already mentioned, John singles out Mary Magdalene (vers. 1-18) from the company of the women. What takes place here evidently antedates in good measure the narrative in the other Gospels where a number of the women are seen at the sepulchre. Mary, at least, is so absorbed that she loses sight of the others. It is she who first tells of the stone being rolled away; and Peter, in company with John, runs to the sepulchre and finds it empty.

There is indeed, in verse two, an allusion to the other women who were Mary's companions: "We know not where they have laid Him," which shows they were probably with her. John and Peter come to the sepulchre, John outstripping him, as love ever will. He first sees the empty tomb. Peter, after his manner, is bolder and goes into the sepulchre and sees all lying there with the evidence that no struggle had taken place. The linen clothes are lying by themselves and the napkin in its place, suggesting that all had been left as naturally as one would leave the couch in which he had slept during the night. It was not as though the clothing had been taken off from Him, but as though He had gone out of them. If we may use an illustration in such connection (though we shrink to add the slightest human thought), these clothes, with the napkin lying by itself, showing the outline of our Lord's form as He lay there, remind us of the shell from which the butterfly has withdrawn, leaving a form which it no longer occupies.

All speaks here of divine power and majesty, the putting forth of that which is so resistless that no opposition whatever is met. John, with the instinct of love, knows what it all means. He saw and believed. But they knew not yet the Scripture, and therefore even this wondrous knowledge did not have its full place in their hearts and lives. The disciples return to their own home, possibly to await further developments, but evidently, as has been said, not fully under the power of what had taken place.

To Mary, all this does not seem to appeal. One thought only fills her heart. Her Lord is not there. It is ever thus with love. Nothing will satisfy it but having its object. It has been said that the other Mary, the sister of Lazarus, had entered so fully into the death and resurrection of our Lord that she did not even join with the others in their fruitless grief at the grave. We do not deny this, but in Mary Magdalene at least we see the intensity of a love which, though it be unintelligent, is true and cannot be diverted from its longing. Not even the vision of angels which she now sees at the place of the head and the feet can satisfy her. Their question, "Why weepest thou?" tells the sorrow of her heart.

She then turns from them to meet, after the manner of the disciples on the way to Emmaus, we may say, an unknown Stranger whom she supposes to be the gardener, and in answer to whose question: "Why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?" she says, in the self-forgetfulness of love, that wherever he has put "Him," if he will but tell her, she will care for Him. Her love indeed is beautiful, but love alone cannot rise beyond death. Her whole heart, however, is absorbed in its object, and therefore the Lord no longer veils Himself from a love like this. The Lord's word, "Mary," expresses His full knowledge of her. "Rabboni" is her outburst of joy. She knows Him and would fain hold Him fast as though restored again to her; but our Lord has to lead her into the truth which her heart little dreams of — the truth which is the theme of John. He is to ascend to His Father, and would bring her and all His "brethren" into a relationship which they could never have enjoyed had He remained upon earth: it is a relationship of which He had spoken to them, and for which the gift of the Spirit was needed to lead them in the full knowledge of it — even the Spirit of adoption. Meanwhile He tells it to Mary, and makes her the messenger of the glad tidings to the rest.

We have next the meeting with the disciples in the evening of the first day (vers. 19-23). He enters through the closed doors — for doors which shut out the world and formalism are no barrier to His entrance — and reveals Himself to them in the greeting: "Peace be unto you," which acquired a new meaning from His lips as He showed them, in His hands and His side, the ground upon which that peace rested. Again, He pronounces "Peace" to them, and sends them forth with the anticipative breathing of the Holy Spirit in whose power they would be His messengers and representatives of His authority. As has been pointed out, we have here a suggestion of the Church or a heavenly body of saints.

The next appearing suggests an earthly company (vers. 24-29). We may look at Thomas individually and as a type of this earthly company. In this latter sense, he stands for the Jews who do not come into blessing until they look on Him whom they pierced. Then indeed, with Thomas, faith will say: "My Lord and my God!" This, of course, looks forward to the time succeeding the present dispensation. We must not, however, overlook the spiritual lessons to be gathered from Thomas. While true in heart to the Lord, he doubts, and demands proof of the most material, rigid kind. The Lord, who knows his heart, knows also how to silence all his unbelief and Thomas himself would then be the last to ask for the proofs he demanded. What we need is not so much "evidences," but a state of heart which judges what is not according to God, and which has but the one object, to know Christ. Such have no doubts, and do not lose the precious opportunities when the Lord manifests Himself unto us as He does not to the world.

The two closing verses of this chapter (vers. 30 and 31) are a kind of conclusion to the Gospel narrative. The Evangelist has given but a part of what filled our Lord's life. He has written with a special object. The theme of his Gospel, as we have seen, is: "That ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, and that believing, ye might have life through His name."

John 21 is not a postscript, for its continuity with all that has gone before is evident. It is supplementary, however, in the sense that both historically and dispensationally the scene is changed. All takes place at the Sea of Galilee, called after the manner of the Evangelist by its Gentile name, the Sea of Tiberias. Dispensationally, it points to the gathering in of Gentiles, the recovery of the Jewish remnant having been suggested in Thomas.

There is much of deep personal interest here. As in all the narratives of the resurrection history, the disciples, while filled with joy at the resurrection of the Lord, have failed to enter into the glorious spiritual truths which it involved; indeed, it is evident they must wait until the Lord specially fits them, by the Spirit coming upon them, for the new place into which His resurrection had brought them.

There may be a significance in their having gone to Galilee, as if to resume their ordinary calling. This, at Peter's suggestion, is undertaken, and at this point the Lord reveals Himself to them. He who had called Peter and the rest from their nets and boats to make them fishers of men had not changed His purpose. We do not say the disciples distinctly failed in this act, but if they had any thought of continuing to be merely fishers, our Lord would check all this. The spiritual lesson is the important one. Details, in themselves entirely natural and proper, have a certain spiritual suggestiveness which we have sought to point out without intimating that there was a distinct lapse in the disciples' hearts.

The scene with Peter at the shore is a complete illustration, we may say, of the washing of the disciples' feet, typically given in the 13th chapter. Individually, Peter's restoration had begun almost as soon as his sin had been committed; but it is here more fully and publicly completed. The details here are suggestive. The whole scene might well remind Peter of the past, — the fire of coals recalling that other fire where he had sat and warmed himself with Christ's enemies; the threefold question: "Lovest thou Me?" touching very closely his proud boast of loyalty and faithfulness. "More than these," we need hardly say, refers to the other disciples, and not to the fish, as some have thought. It was gently reminding Peter of his boast, "Though all shall be offended, yet will not I."

As has often been pointed out, our Lord and Peter use two different words for "love." The Lord's is the stronger, more spiritual, word, nearly always used of the love of God. Peter's answer is the word more used in human intercourse and friendship. It does not suggest a weaker love, we may say, but a different plane. Peter would not qualify the intensity of his love, but would shrink from giving it the dignity implied in the other word. Our Lord at last, in the closing question, comes down to Peter's own word, as though to probe to the very bottom that once self-confident but now self-distrusting heart. Throughout, Peter casts himself upon the knowledge of the Lord rather than his own protestation. "Thou knowest that I love Thee." Precious is the grace which does not even name the sin, save in this holy implication, and yet which so effectually probes to the very bottom that it leaves its holy savor where once had been the roots of pride; at the same time, with no bitterness of humiliation connected with the searching of divine grace.

This is ever the way of our Lord; and instead of setting one aside from service, the poor wandering sheep now brought back is entrusted with the care of the Lord's lambs and sheep. Two different words are also used here. It is, "Feed My lambs" and "Shepherd My sheep." Lambs need not so much correction and control as the nourishment which will insure their growth. This, too, is needed by the sheep as well, and therefore the last word is "feed" as well as "shepherd" My sheep.

Thus, Peter is, we may say, restored to his place of prominence among the apostles, and his position at Pentecost and subsequently illustrates how complete his restoration had been.

Our Lord, however, goes on to predict Peter's death in much the way in which he had once thought himself ready to prove his devotion. But that devotion must rest, as all else, upon grace; and when it does, the original desire and purpose of the heart will be fulfilled. So he is to follow his Lord and put off his tabernacle in due time in a way which would glorify God; it shows that a fall from self-confidence is a fall into divine love, which makes possible of accomplishment the noblest aspirations of the heart.

As has been pointed out elsewhere, this close of Peter's life, together with what follows as to John, suggests that Peter's ministry as being for the circumcision ceases to occupy the chief place; while John suggests that which abides to the close, a ministry closely connected with the heavenly, the out-of-the-world place, into which our Lord has brought us. We find therefore that Peter is most prominent in the early part of the Acts; and the apostle Paul, who succeeds to the prominent place, reminds us in Galatians how the apostleship of the circumcision, was committed to Peter, while that of the uncircumcision with all that went with it, of the ministry of the gospel of the glory and of the Church which is associated with that gospel, was committed to him.

Peter's ministry abides of course, and of priceless value, having in view the passage of a pilgrim through a wilderness and the walk which is appropriate to this pilgrim character.

John's ministry, directly occupied as it is with the person of the Son of God, the Eternal Life which was with the Father and manifested to us, has a character bounded by no dispensation, and leads on into eternity. He it is who has been used of God to give us this wondrous Gospel of the Son of God, in which, though veiling Himself, the divine glory in the face of Jesus Christ shines forth, the glory of "Him who filleth all in all."

Well may John add that the narrative of such an One cannot be exhausted. The world itself, he supposes, could not contain all that should be written. Heaven and eternity are the sphere in which all will be unfolded to the delight and wonder of our hearts.

4. The General Theme in Harmony with this Presentation of Christ

We have now sought to gather from the four Gospels the characteristic manner in which our Lord is presented in each: in His life, His death and His resurrection. It remains for us now to gather up the results of this, and to form, as far as we can, an idea of the special theme of each Evangelist.

Christ is the centre, as we have been seeing, but all the truth given in connection with Him in each Evangelist will be found to have a character in harmony with the aspect in which He is presented to us.

In Matthew, our Lord is seen in His life as the King of the Jews, the One in whom Old Testament prophecy was fulfilled and who "came unto His own." The entire Gospel is cast in a Jewish mold. The teaching, miracles, opposition, all take color from the manifest theme of the Evangelist. His death is in accord with this, as is also His resurrection. It is the Gospel of the kingdom throughout; and even when the King has been rejected and the gospel goes out to the Gentiles it is still the kingdom, though now in the mystery form. This thought, therefore, of the kingdom, predominates in Matthew. That Matthew was a Jew and wrote his Gospel with special reference to the Jews is manifest from his theme.

In Mark we notice a close similarity with Matthew, closer than between any of the other Gospels. Our Lord is presented as the Prophet of God and the Servant of man's need, in His life, His death and resurrection. The prophet is also an Old Testament figure, equally with the king, and closely connected with him, and this will account for the similarity between these two Evangelists, although each has that which is distinctive.

There is a fulness and activity of service in Mark, both in healing and teaching, which is most appropriate to the One who humbled Himself and took a servant's place. We will later glance at some of the verbal peculiarities of this Evangelist which indicate the untiring energy and implicit obedience of our blessed Lord. The condensation of the narrative (the briefest of all the four Evangelists) points in the same direction, so that we can have little doubt as to the general theme — the labors and testimony of the true Servant of God and Prophet of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ.

That this record of the perfect Servant should have been entrusted to one who so conspicuously failed in service, but who later was profitable for the ministry, is only an illustration of how grace delights to restore and use — "Take Mark and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry" (2 Tim. 4:11).

It has been thought that the conciseness, brevity and other characteristics of this Gospel indicate that it was originally intended for the Romans who would be more occupied with results accomplished than with the account of fulfilled prophecy. We cannot speak with certainty of this, and leave it as a matter of very minor importance.

In Luke, the Lord is seen in His wider title as Son of Man, and in connection therefore, not only with Israel where His ministry was exercised and His atoning sacrifice was offered, but with the entire human family. There is an outlook therefore to the Gentiles, and if we remember that Luke was the companion of the apostle Paul and the narrator of his ministry among the Gentiles in the book of Acts, we need not be surprised to find certain features in his Gospel which remind us to a certain extent of the Pauline character of ministry in the Epistles.

There is an intensely human interest in the entire Gospel of Luke and a most gracious and tender thought for those at a distance, especially the sinful and the wandering, shines out in it, which gives a charm all its own to this precious narrative of our Lord's life, death and resurrection. The general theme of the Gospel may therefore be given as the ministry of the Son of Man among men, reaching their need, touching their hearts and bringing them to the knowledge of God and Himself. Luke is a Gentile, probably a Greek and a man of culture, as indicated by his style. It has been suggested that he wrote for the Greeks. What we have said as to Mark applies here also.

John. If Luke is in a certain sense an introduction to the epistles of Paul, the Gospel of John is in a more marked way introductory to his own epistles. His own individuality — an individuality which consists in presenting Christ alone before the eye — is stamped upon all his writings, though in a less marked degree upon the Revelation because of its special character. Our Lord is seen throughout this Gospel as the eternal Son of God, made flesh, manifesting, as the Only-begotten of the Father, the character, love, holiness and righteousness of Him whom it is eternal life to know.

The theme of the Evangelist is twofold: "that Eternal Life which was with the Father and was manifested unto us." In the Gospel, He presents it in the person of our Lord and the manner in which it is communicated by Him, with the opposition it meets in the world, the solid basis upon which it rests, and the sphere of its eternal display. In the Epistles, it is the unfolding of that life in the believer left here for a season to walk as He walked.

John, although a Jew, writes entirely from the Christian standpoint, referring to Jewish customs as foreign to him. He is distinctly the Evangelist for the Church. It is significant that he never speaks of himself by name, but as "the disciple whom Jesus loved."