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Son;" "Hear ye Him;" “Flee from idolatry,” &c. Such commands as these require of the worldly ruler that he oppose not merely worldly or temporal offence, but also false doctrine and false worship. But by what means nust he do this? What means has God given him? Read St. Paul's 13. chapter to the Romans, where you are informed: "He beareth not the sword in vain.” But against whom shall he bear it? Against those who defend false doctrines and idolatry, and who seek to compel others to accept heresy and false worship. This the Christian government dare not tolerate. For the heavenly Lord of lords has forbidden it, and declares that God is worshiped and His Word lauded when we jeopard peace, the favor of men, and the like, rather than sanction that which militates against God's Word.
This, then, is the import of Peter's unauthorized attempt at liberating the Lord by fighting with the eword. But in our text we find yet another sermon, which is a reproof designed especially for the Jews, who had been instructed by their proper government to take swords and staves, and with them to attack the Lord Jesus. Still they receive the Lord's reprimand. “Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.”
With these words the Lord rebukes them for a twofold reason. In the first place, even when the civil government puts the sword into her subjects' hands, they must not take it if they are expected to use it in an unrighteous cause; and, secoudly, they should not have taken it to use it against Him,
their Lord. For He was no murderer. It was the doctrine that was in question. Doctrinal disputes are not to be judged and decided by fire and sword in imitation of the Papists, but according to the Scriptures. If we are heretics, as they accuse us, then let them prove it from Scripture, and leave the hangman at home; he has no business with such disputes.
But as the Jews dealt with Christ, so the Papists, their disciples, still deal with Him. They can not and they will not enter upon a debate, unless their doctors and papal decrees are recognized as having equal authority with God's Word. But since we refuse to recognize them as having such, they come out against us with swords and staves, as did the Jews against Christ. I suppose they do this so that every one can see that they are of the same breed with the Jews, to whom the Lord says, Jno. 8: “Ye are of your father the devil,” for "ye seek to kill me.” This applies admirably to these bloodhounds, the Papists. But we, who, like Peter, have not been called to use the sword, must suffer these things. God, however, in His own good time, will punish such cruel despotism, and mercifully deliver His own from the fury of these blood-thirsty tyrants. Amen.
THE LORD JESUS LED TO ANNAS AND CAIAPHAS AND
TRIED BY THE JEWS.
Matt. 26, 57-68. And they that had laid hold on Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. But Peter followed Him afar off unto the high priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end. Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council sought false witness against Jesus, to put Him to death; but found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, and said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. And the high priest arose, and said unto Him, Answerest Thou nothing? what is it which these witness against Thee? But Jesus held His peace. And the high priest answered and said unto Him, I adjure Thee by the living God, that Thou tell us whetber Thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said : nevertheless I say unto you, Here after shall ye see the Son of man sitiing on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses ? bebold, now ye have heard His blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in His face, and buffeted Him; and others smote Him with the palms of their hands, saying, Prophesy unto us, Thou Christ, Who is he that smote Thee?
bave heard how our Lord Jesus was be
trayed by Judas in the garden and taken by the Jews. Now we come to notice how He was brought before Caiaphas, the high priest, under such charges as to lead to the unanimous decision that there was sufficient cause for delivering Him to Pilate and aiming at His life.
In describing these things so carefully it was not the only object of the Evangelists to teach us the holy innocence of our Lord Jesus. That He was wholly pure and altogether without sin we must conclude from the known fact that He was the Son
of God, conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary. But, since the Church and the Gospel must receive the same treatment in the world which the Lord Jesus received, the history of Christ's wrongs is given us especially to the end that we may not be offended when similar wrongs are inflicted upon us also, but that we may always refer to it for consolation and learn to be patient. For if God's Son, our Master and our Head, was falsely accused, delivered to Pilate by the high priests, scribes and elders, and surrendered to the Gentiles to be crucified, is it to be wondered at if we receive similar treatment? The servant is not to be more successful than his master. Therefore, we should rejoice when our experience is such that we can truthfully boast: This was the experience of my
Lord Jesus also. For if we are like Him in suffering, we are warranted in the hope of being like Him in glory too; yea, and even before the revelation of this glory, we shall, in our suffering, derive from Him comfort, aid, deliverance. This history, which shows that even our Lord Jesus was not exempt from suffering, serves, therefore, first, to minister unto us consolation, that we may become more cheerful and more patient in our sufferings.
And, secondly, it offers us an antidote against the common offences of this world. For every one regards the titular dignitaries, called chief priests and elders of the people here, as pious men and saints, in virtue of their office, station and pomp. And so to-day the Pope, bishops, monks and priests desire, on account of their office, to be looked upon and treated as the most eminent members of the Christian Church. But let us learn here not to
judge men by the office they hold, else we shall be deceived; but by the manner in which they act towards Christ--by the relation which their heart, their will, sustains towards Him. When, by this text, we find good or evil in them, we must judge them accordingly; for then our judgement shall always be just. The office is, without a doubt, a holy and a good one; but he who holds it may be a villain. For here we see that the high priests, the scribes and the elders, who are the rulers and leaders of the people in spiritual things and in things temporal, are the very ones who cannot tolerate the Lord Jesus and who, by dint of unremitting persecution and manifold intrigues, finally bring Him to the cross. We must confess that they are God's worst enemies and also, as Luke testifies in the 5. chapter of Acts, Epicureans, who in those days said that there is no resurrection from the dead, neither angel nor spirit. If we would, therefore, know to a certainty whether Pope, bishops, and the like, are pious or not, we must not be misled by their office; but need merely see how they conduct themselves towards the Gospel and the true doctrine, when we shall find that all of them are disciples of Judas, and that their hearts are disposed towards the Gospel as were those of the high priests towards Christ. These are the very fruits by which we may know the false prophets, the wolves, even when they come in sheep's clothing and have the appearance of devout and harmless persons.
We shall now take up the trial of our Lord, and see with what hatred, malignity, craft, and virulence they treat Christ.