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'On the left hand.' The wicked. “Ye cursed.' That is, ye who are devoted to destruction, whose characters deserve everlasting punishment, and who are about to enter into it. To curse, is the opposite of, to bless. It implies a negation of all the blessings of heaven, and a positive infliction of eternal sufferings. • Everlasting fire.' 'Fire, here, is used to denote punishment. It expresses extreme suffering, as a death by burning is one of the most horrible that can be conceived. This image was well known to the Jews, Isa. Ixvi. 24, and therefore expressed in a very strong manner the certainty, intensity, and eternity, of future torment. To us it is a subject of comparatively little consequence what will be the mode of punishment. The fact that the wicked will be eternally punished, cursed of God, should awe every spirit, and lead every man to secure his salvation. As, however, the body will be raised it is not unreasonable to suppose that a mode of punishment will be adopted equivalent to the concentration of ali earthly woes, all that makes man miserable here, poured upon the naked body and spirit of the wicked in hell, for ever and ever. Prepared for the devil.' The devil is the prince of evil spirits. This place of punishment was fitted for hiin when he rebelled against God, Jude 6. Rev. xii. 8, 9. * His angels.' His messengers; his servants, or those angels that he drew off from heaven by his rebellion, and whom he has employed as his messengers to do evil. There is a remarkable difference between the manner in which the righteous shall be addressed, and the wicked. Christ will say to the one that the kingdom was prepared for them; to the other, that the fire was not prepared for them, but for another race of beings. They will inherit it because they have the spirit of the devil, the same character, and are therefore fitted to the same place; not because it was originally designed for them.
42 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink. 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
* Inasmuch as ye did it not,' &c. By not doing good to the followers of Christ, they showed that they had no real love to nin. Let it be observed, here, that the public ground of their condemnation is the neglect of duty, or because they did it not. We are not to suppose that they will not also be condemned for
their open and positive sins. See Rom. ii. 9. Eph. v. 5. Col. ii. 5, 6. 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. Rev. xxi. 8. Psa. ix. 17. But their neglect of charity, or of doing good to him and his people, may be the public reason of condemning them, because he wished to give preeminency to those virtues, to excite his followers to do them. Sin is a violation of the law. Besides, nothing better shows the true state of the heart than those duties, and the true character can be as well tried by them as by open crimes.
• One of the least of these. These on my right hand. My brethren. Those who are saved.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. • And these,' &c. These persons.
• Into everlasting punishment.' The original word, here translated ' punishment,' means torment, or suffering inflicted for crime. It does not mean simply a state or condition, but absolute, positive suffering. In regard to the meaning of the word `everlasting in this place, it is to be observed, that the literal meaning of the word expresses absolute eternity-always being, Matt. xviii. 8; xix. 16. Mark iii. 29. Rom. ii. 7. Heb. v. 9; that the obvious, plain interpret. ation of the word demands this signification; that the word used here is the same in the original as that used to express the eternal life of the righteous; if one can be proved to be limited in duration, the other can by the same arguments. The proof tha: the righteous will be happy for ever is precisely the same, and no other than that the wicked will be miserable for ever; and it is confirmed by many other passages of scripture, 2 Thess. i. 7-9, Luke xvi. 26. Rev. xiv. 11. Psa. ix. 17. Isa. xxxiii, 14. Mark xvi. 16. John iij. 36. •Life eternal.' Man, by sin, has plungea himself into death, temporal, spiritual, eternal. Christ, by coming and dying, has abolished death, and brought life and inmortality to light, 2 Tim. i. 10. * Life' denotes, here, freedom from death, and positive holiness and happiness for ever.
CHAPTER XXVI. 1 AND it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, 2 Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.
See also Mark xiv. 1-11. Luke xxii, 1–6. John xii. 1-7. ' After two days is the least of the passover.' See note, Matt. xii. 1-8. The festival of the passover was celebrated to preserve among the Jews the memory of their liberation from Egyptian servitude, and of the salety of their first-born in that night when the first-born of the Egyptians perished, Ex. xii. The name passover' was given to the feast because the Lord passed over
the houses of the Israelites without slaying their first-born, while the Egyptians were cut off, Ex. xii. 13. It was celebrated seven days. During all this period the people ate unleavened bread, and hence the festival was sometimes called the feast of unleavened bread, Ex. xii. 18. Lev. xxiii. 6. All the leaven or yeast in the family was previously removed with great care, as it is to the present :ime-a circumstance to which the apostle alludes, in 1 Cor. v. 7. The blood of the paschal lamb was in Egypt sprinkled on the door-posts of the houses; afterwards it was poured by the priests at the foot of the altar. The lamb thus slain was roasted whole, with two spits thrust through it-one lengthwise, and one transversely-crossing each other near the fore-legs ; so that the animal was, in a manner, crucified. Not a bone of it might be broken-a circumstance strongly representing the sufferings of our Lord Jesus, the passover slain for us, John xix. 36. 1 Cor. v. 7. Thus roasted, the lamb was served up with wild and bitter herbs. At first it was observed with the loins girt about, with sandals on their feet, and with all the preparations for an immediate journey. This was significant of the haste with which they were about to depart from the land of bondage. The custom was afterwards retained, in celebrating the passover, by the especial command of God,
The order of the celebration of this feast was as follows: The ceremony commenced with drinking a cup of wine mingled with water, after having given thanks to God for it. This was the first cup. Then followed the washing of hands, with another short form of thanksgiving to God. The table was then supplied with the provisions, namely, the bitter herbs, the unleavened bread, the lamb, and a thick sauce composed of dates, figs, raisins, vinegar, &c. They then took a small quantity of herbs, with another thanksgiving, and ate it. After which, all the dishes were removed from the table, and a second cup of wine set before each guest as at first. The dishes were removed, it is said, to excite the curiosity of children, and to lead them to make inquiry into the cause of this observance. See Ex. xii. 26, 27. The leading person at the feast then rehearsed the history of the servitude of the Jews in Egypt, the manner of their deliverance, and the reason of instituting the passover. The dishes were then returned to the table. Holding up the bitter nerbs and the unleavened bread, he stated the design-that the one represented the bitterness of the Egyptian bondage, and the other the suddenness of their delia verance. This done, he repeated the 113th and il4th psalms, offered a short prayer, and all the company drank the wine that had been standing some tin:e before them. This was the second cup. The hands were then again washed, and the meal eaten, after which they washed the hands again, and drank another cup of wine, called the cup of blessing, because the leader was accustomed, in a particular manner, over that cup, to offer thanks to God for his goodness. This is the cup whicn our Saviour is supposed to have taken when he instituted the Lord's supper, called by Paul the cup of blessing, 1 Cor. x. 16. There was still another cup which was drank when they were about to separate, called the Hallel, because in connection with it they were accustomed to repeat the lesser Hallel, or the 115th, 116th, 117th, 118th psalms. In accordance with this our Saviour and his disciples sang a hymn, as they were about to go to the mount of Olives, ver. 30. Our Saviour complied with these rites according to the custom of the Jews. While doing it, he signified that the typical reference of the passover was about to be accomplished; and he instituted in place of it the Lord's supper, and of course the obligation to keep the passover then ceased. The Son of man is betrayed.' Wilt be betrayed. “To be crucified.' To be put to death on the cross. See note on Matt. xxvii. 35.
3 Then assembled together the chief priests and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,
This was a meeting of the great council or sanhedrim. Note, Matt. v. 22. ' The palace. The original word properly denotes the hall, or large area in the centre of the dwelling, called the court. See note, Matt. ix. 148. It may be understood, however, as referring to the palace itself. “The high priest.' Holding the office that was first conferred on Aaron, Ex. xxviii. The office was at first hereditary, descending on the eldest son, Numb. iii.10. Antiochus Epiphanes, about 200 years B.C. sold the office to the highest bidder. Herod changed the incumbents of the office at pleasure; a liberty which the Romans afterwards exercised without any restraint. The office was never more fluctuating than in the time of our Saviour. Hence it is said that Caiaphas was high priest for that year, John xi. 51. Persons who had been high priests, and had been removed from the office, still retained the
Hence more than one high priest is sometimes mentioned, though, strictly speaking, there was but one who held the office.
4 And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him.
By subtilty. By guile, deceit, or in some secret manner, so that the people would not know it. Jezus was regarded by the people as a distinguished prophet, and by many of them probably az the Messiah ; and the sanhedrim did not dare to take him away openly, lest the people should rise and rescue him.
5 But they said, Not on the feast-day, lest there be an uproar among the people.
Not on the seast.' The feast lasted seven days. A vast multitude attended from all parts of Judea. Jerusalem is said
to nave contained at such times three millions of people. Amidst such a multitude there were frequent tumults and seditions; and the sanhedrim were justly apprehensive there would be now, in open day, in the temple, they took away a teacher so popular as Jesus, and put him to death.
6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,
' In Bethany.' See note ch. xxi. 1. ‘Simon the leper.' Simon who had been a leper. It was unlawful to eat with persons that had the leprosy. John, xii. 1, says that this was the house where Lazarus was, who had been raised from the dead. Probably Lazarus was a relative of Simon's, and was living with him. He further says that they made Jesus a supper, and that Martha served, and that this was six days before the passover. From the order in which Matthew and Mark mention it, it would have been supposed that it was but two days before the passover. Matthew and Mark leave it indefinite, saying that while Jesus was in Bethany he was anointed by Mary.
7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaser box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head as he sat at meat.
This woman was Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, John xii. 3. “Having an alabaster box.' A box made of alabaster, The alabaster is a species of marble, distinguished for being light, and of a beautiful white colour, almost transparent. It was much used by the ancients for the purpose of preserving various kinds of ointment in. Of very precious ointment.' That is, of ointment of much value, rare, and difficult to be obtained. Mark, xiv. 3, and John, xii. 3, say that it was ointment of spikenard. In the original it is' nard.' It was procured from a herb growing in the Indies. It was liquid, so as easily to flow when the box or phial was open, and was distinguished particularly for an agreeable smell. See Cant. i. 12. The ancients were much in the habit of anointing or perfuming their bodies, and the nard was esteemed one of the most precious perfumes. John says there was a pound of this, xii. 3. That there was a large quantity is further evident from the fact that Judas says it might have been sold for three hundred pence, (nine pounds, thirteen shillings, and nine pence sterling,) and that the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. (John.) 'And poured it on his head. They were accustomed chiefly to anoint the head, or hair. John says, xii. 3, that she poured it on the feet of Jesus, and wiped them with her hair. She probably poured it on both' nis head and his feet. To pour ointment on the head was common. To pour it on the feet was an act of distinguished humility and attachment to ihe Saviour, and therefore deserved to be particularly recorderl.