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The Jews' hypocrisy in perverting justice. 1109
was giving Himself up to them voluntarily, and saying, that MATT. this was done according to the Scriptures.
And when these were fled, they lead Him away to Caiaphas; v.57.58. but Peter followed, and entered in to see what the end should be.
Great was the fervour of the disciple; neither did he fly when he saw them flying, but stood his ground, and went in with Him. And if John did so too, yet he was known' to the John high priest.
And why did they lead Him away there, where they were all assembled? That they might do all things with consent of the chief priests. For he was then high priest, and all were waiting for Christ there, to such a degree did they spend the whole night, and give up their sleep for this object. For neither did they then eat the Passover, but watched for this other purpose. For John, when he had said that it was early, added, they entered into the judg-2 John ment hall, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover.
What must we say then? That they ate it on another day, and broke the Law, on account of their eager desire about this murder. For Christ would not have transgressed as to the time of the Passover, but they who were daring all things, and trampling under foot a thousand laws. For since they were exceedingly boiling with rage, and having often attempted to seize Him, had not been able; having then taken Him unexpectedly, they chose even to pass by the Passover, for the sake of satiating their murderous lust.
Wherefore also they were all assembled together, and it was a council of pestilent men3, and they ask some questions, 3 ovvéwishing to invest this plot with the appearance of a court of ένδριον justice. For neither did their testimonies agree together1; cf. Ps. so feigned was the court of justice, and all things full of Mark confusion and disorder.
But false witnesses came, and said, This fellow said, v.66.61. I will destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it. And indeed He had said, In three days, but He said not, I will destroy, but, Destroy, and not about that temple, but see about His own Body. What then doth the high priest? Willing to press Him
1110 The sentence precipitated for fear of the Truth.
HOMIL. to a defence, that by that he might take Him, he saith, Hearest Thou not what these witness against Thee? But He held His peace.
For the attempts at defence were unprofitable, no man hearing. For this was a shew only of a court of justice, but in truth an onset of robbers, assailing Him without cause, as in a cave, or on a road.
Wherefore He held His peace, but the other continued, v. 63-65. saying, I adjure Thee by the living God, that Thou tell us whether Thou be the Christ, the Son of the living God. But He said, Thou hast said. Nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy. And this he did to add force to the accusation, and to aggravate what He said, by the act. For since what had been said Acts moved the hearers to fear, what they did about Stephen1, stopping their ears, this high priest doth here also.
[3.] And yet what kind of blasphemy was this? For indeed before He had said, when they were gathered
2 Matt. together, The Lord said unto My Lord, Sit Thou on My
Right Hand, and interpreted the saying, and they dared say nothing, but held their peace, and from that time forth gainsaid Him no more. Why then did they now call the saying a blasphemy? And wherefore also did Christ thus answer them? To take away all their excuse, because unto the last day He taught, that He was Christ, and that He sitteth at the Right Hand of the Father, and that He will come again to judge the world, which was the language of One manifesting His full accordance with the Father.
Having rent therefore his clothes, he saith, What think ye? He gives not the sentence from himself, but invites it from them, as in a case of confessed sins, and manifest blasphemy. For, inasmuch as they knew that if the thing came to be enquired into, and carefully decided, it would free Him from all blame, they condemn Him amongst themselves, and anticipate the hearers by saying, Ye have heard the blasphemy; all but necessitating and forcing them to deliver the sentence. What then say they? He is guilty of death; that having taken Him as condemned, they should
Aim of the Jews to disgrace as well as to slay Him. thus work upon Pilate thereupon to pass sentence. In MATT. which matter those others also being accomplices say, He is guilty of death; themselves accusing, themselves judging, themselves passing sentence, themselves being every thing then.
But wherefore did they not bring forward the sabbaths? Because He had often stopped their mouths; and moreover they wanted to take Him, and condemn Him by the things then said. And [the high priest] anticipated them, and gave the sentence as from them, and drew them all on by rending his vestments, and having led Him away as now condemned unto Pilate, thus did all.
Before Pilate at any rate they said nothing of this kind, but what? If this Man were not a malefactor, we would1 John not have delivered Him up unto thee; attempting to put 18, 30. Him to death by political accusations. And wherefore did they not slay Him secretly? They were desirous also to bring up an evil report against His fame. For since many had now heard Him, and were admiring Him, and amazed at Him, therefore they endeavoured that He should be put to death publicly, and in the presence of all.
But Christ hindered it not, but made full use of their wickedness for the establishment of the truth, so that His death should be manifest. And the result was the contrary to what they wished. For they wished to make a shew of it, as in this way disgracing Him, but He even by these very things shone forth the more. And much as they said, Let us put Him to death, lest the Romans come and take2 John 11, 48. away our place and nation; and after they had put Him to death, this came to pass; so also here; their object was to crucify Him publicly, that they might injure His fame, and the contrary result took place.
For in proof that indeed they had power to have put Him to death, even amongst themselves, hear what Pilate saith; Take' ye Him, and judge Him according to your Law. But John they would not, that He might seem to have been put to death as a transgressor, as an usurper, as a mover of sedition. Therefore also they crucified thieves with Him; therefore also they said, Write1 not that this Man is King John of the Jews; but that He said it.
The best victory is in patient endurance.
But all these things are done for the Truth, so that they might not have so much as any shadow of a defence that is surely shameless. And at the Sepulchre too, in the like manner, the seals and the watches made the truth to be the more conspicuous; and the mockings, and the jeerings, and the revilings, wrought again this self-same effect.
For such is the nature of error: it is destroyed by those things whereby it plots; thus at least it fell out even here, for they that seemed to have conquered, these most of all were put to shame, and defeated, and ruined; but He that seemed to be defeated, this Man above all hath both shone forth, and conquered mightily.
Let us not then every where seek victory, nor every where shun defeat. There is an occasion when victory brings hurt, but defeat profit. For, for instance, in the case of them that are angry; he that hath been very outrageous seems to have prevailed; but this man above all is the one subdued and hurt by the most grievous passion; but he that hath endured nobly, this mau hath got the better and conquered. And while the one hath not had strength to overcome so much as his own disease; the other hath removed another man's; this hath been subdued by his own, that hath got the better even of another's passion; and so far from being burnt up, he quenched the flame of another when raised to à height. But if he had minded to gain what seems to be victory, both he himself would have been overcome; and having inflamed the other, he would have occasioned him to have suffered this more grievously; and, like women, both the one and the other would have been disgracefully and miserably overthrown by their anger. But now he that hath exercised self-control is both freed from this disgrace, and hath erected a glorious trophy over anger both in himself and in his neighbour, through his honourable defeat.
[4.] Let us not then every where seek victory. For he that hath overreached hath conquered the person wronged, but with an evil victory, and one that brings destruction to him that has won it; but he that is wronged, and seems to have been conquered, if he have borne it with self-command, this above all is the one that hath the crown. For often to be defeated is better, and this is the best mode of victory.
The Martyr conquers. Joseph overcame his Mistress. 1113
For whether one overreaches, or smites, or envies, he that is ¡MATT. defeated, and enters not into the conflict, this is he who hath the victory.
And why do I speak of overreaching and envy? For he also that is dragged to martyrdom, thus conquers by being bound, and beaten, and maimed, and slain. And what is in wars defeat, namely, for the combatant to fall; this with us is victory. For no where do we overcome by doing wrongfully, but every where by suffering wrongfully. Thus also doth the victory become more glorious, when we sufferers get the better of the doers. Hereby it is shewn that the victory is of God. For indeed it hath an opposite nature to outward conquest, which fact is again above all an infallible sign of strength. Thus also the rocks in the sea, by being struck, break the waves; thus also all the Saints were proclaimed, and crowned, and set up their glorious trophies, winning this tranquil victory. "For stir not thyself," He saith, "neither weary thyself. God hath given thee this might, to conquer not by conflict, but by endurance alone. Do not oppose thyself also as he does, and thou hast conquered; conflict not, and thou hast gained the crown. Why dost thou disgrace thyself? Allow him not to say that by conflicting thou hast got the better, but suffer him to be amazed and to marvel at thy invincible power; and to say to all, that even without entering into conflict thou hast conquered."
Thus also the blessed Joseph obtained a good report, every where by suffering wrong getting the better of them who were doing it. For his brethren and the Egyptian woman were amongst those that were plotting against him, but over all did this man prevail. For tell me not of the prison, wherein this man dwelt, nor of the king's courts where she abode, but shew me who it is that is conquered, who it is that is defeated, who that is in despondency, who that is in pleasure. For she, so far from being able to prevail over the righteous man, could not master so much as her own passion; but this man prevailed both over her and over that grievous disease. But if thou wilt, hear her very words, and thou shalt see the trophy. Thou1 broughtest in Gen. It was not 39, 17. unto us here an Hebrew servant to mock us.