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MATT. XX. 17—19.
And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the Scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify Him, and the third day He shall be raised.
HE goeth not up at once to Jerusalem when He is come out of Galilee, but having first wrought miracles, and having stopped the mouths of Pharisees, and having discoursed with 1 Matt. His disciples of renouncing possessions: for, if thou wilt ib. 12. be perfect, saith He, sell that thou hast: and of virginity, He that is able to receive, let him receive it: and of humility, Matt. For except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye 18, 3. shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven: and of a reMatt. compense of the things here, * For whoso hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, shall receive an hundred fold in this world: and of rewards there, For he shall also inherit, it is said, everlasting life: then he assails the city next, and being on the point of going up, discourses again of His Passion. For since it was likely that they, because they were not willing this should come to pass, would forget it, He is continually putting them in remembrance, exercising their mind by the frequency with which He reminded them, and diminishing their pain.
Seasonable warnings of the approaching trouble. 875
But He speaks with them apart, necessarily; for it was not MATT. meet that His discourse about these things should be pub-17-19. lished to the many; neither that it should be spoken plainly, for no advantage arose from this. For if the disciples were confounded at hearing these things, much more the multitude of the people.
What then? was it not told to the people? you may say. It was indeed told to the people also, but not so plainly. For, 'Destroy, saith He, this Temple, and in three days I will1 John raise It up; and, This generation seeketh after a sign, and Matt. there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas; and 12, 39. again, 'Yet a little while am I with you, and ye shall seek John 7, Me, and shall not find Me.
But to the disciples not so, but as the other things He spake unto them more plainly, so also spake He this too. And for what purpose, if the multitude understood not the force of His sayings, were they spoken at all? That they might learn after these things, that foreknowing it, He came to His Passion, and willing it; not in ignorance, nor by constraint. But to the disciples not for this cause only did He foretel it; but, as I have said, in order that having been exercised by the expectation, they might more easily endure the Passion, and that it might not confound them by coming upon them without preparation. So for this cause, while at the beginning He spake of His death only, when they were practised and trained to hear of it, He adds the other circumstances also; as, for instance, that they should deliver Him to the Gentiles, that they should mock and scourge Him; as well on this account, as in order that when they saw the mournful events come to pass, they might expect from this the Resurrection also. For He who had not cloked from them what would give pain, and what seemed to be matter of reproach, would reasonably be believed about good things too.
But mark, I pray thee, how with regard to the time also He orders the thing wisely. For neither at the beginning did He tell them, lest He should disquiet them, neither at the time itself, lest by this again He should confound them; but when they had received sufficient proof of His power, when He had given them promises that were very great concerning life everlasting, then He introduces also what He had
876 Warnings of the Passion imperfectly understood.
HOMIL. to say concerning these things, once and twice and often
But another Evangelist saith, that He brought in the 1 Luke Prophets also as witnesses'; and another again saith, that even they themselves understood not His words, but the saying was hid from them, and that they were amazed as they fol2 Mark lowed Him?.
Surely then, one may say, the benefit of the prediction is Mark 9, taken away. For if they knew not what they were hearing, Luke18, neither could they look for the event, and not looking for it, neither could they be exercised by their expectations.
But I say another thing also more perplexing than this; If they did not know, how were they sorry. For another saith, they were sorry. If therefore they knew it not, how 3 Matt. were they sorry? How did Peter say, Be it far from Thee,
this shall not be unto Thee?
What then may we say? That He should die indeed they knew, albeit they knew not clearly the mystery of the Incarnation. Neither did they know clearly about the Resurrection, neither what He was to achieve; and this was hid from them.
For this cause also they felt pain. For some they had known to have been raised again by other persons, but for any one to have raised up himself again, and in such wise to have raised himself as not to die any more, they had never known.
This then they understood not, though often said; nay nor of this self-same death did they clearly know what it was, and how it should come on Him. Wherefore also they were amazed as they followed Him, but not for this cause only; but to me at least He seems even to amaze them by discoursing of His Passion.
[2.] Yet none of these things made them take courage, and this when they were continually hearing about His Resurrection. For together with His death this also especially troubled them, to hear that men should mock and scourge Him, and the like. For when they considered His miracles, the possessed persons whom He had delivered, the dead whom He had raised, all the other marvellous works which He was doing, and then heard these things, they were amazed, if He
Request of the sons of Zebedee. Apostles still carnal. 877 Who doeth these works is thus to suffer. Therefore they fell MATT. even into perplexity, and now believed, now disbelieved, and could not understand His sayings. So far at least were they from understanding clearly what He said, that the sons of Zebedee at the same time came to Him, and spake to Him of precedence. We desire, it is said, that one should sit on Thy v. 21. Right Hand, and one on Thy Left. How then doth this Evan- Mark gelist say, that their mother came to Him? It is probable 10, 37. both things were done. I mean, that they took their mother with them, with the purpose of making their entreaty stronger, and in this way to prevail with Christ.
For in proof that this is true, as I say, and the request was rather theirs, and that being ashamed they put forward their mother, mark how Christ directs His words to them.
But rather let us learn, first, what do they ask, and with what disposition, and whence they were moved to this? Whence then were they moved to this? They saw themselves honoured above the rest, and expected from that they should obtain this request also. But what can it be they ask? Hear another Evangelist plainly declaring this. For, Because He was nigh, it is said1, to Jerusalem, and because 1 Luke they thought the kingdom of God should immediately appear, 19, 11. they asked these things. For they supposed, that this was at the doors, and visible, and that having obtained what they asked, they would undergo none of the painful things. For neither for its own sake only did they seek it, but as though they would also escape the hardships.
Wherefore also Christ in the first place leads them off from these thoughts, commanding them to await slaughters, and dangers, and the utmost terrors. For, Are ye able, saith v. 22. He, to drink of the cup that I drink of?
But let no man be troubled at the Apostles being in such an imperfect state. For not yet was the Cross accomplished, not yet the grace of the Spirit given. But if thou wouldest learn their virtue, notice them after these things, and thou wilt see them superior to every passion. For with this object He reveals their deficiencies, that after these things thou mightest know, what manner of men they became by
That then they were asking, in fact, for nothing spiritual,
Our Lord's answer to James and John.
HOMIL. neither had a thought of the Kingdom above, is manifest from LXV. hence. But let us see also, how they come unto Him, and Mark what they say. We would, it is said', that whatsoever we 10, 35. shall desire of Thee, Thou shouldest do it for us.
2 ib. 36.
And Christ saith to them, What would ye?? not being ignorant, but that He may compel them to answer, and lay open the wound, and so apply the medicine. But they out of shame and confusion of face, because under the influence of a human passion they were come to do this, took Him privately apart from the Disciples, and asked Him. For they went before, it is said, so that it might not be observable to them, and so said what they wished. For it was their desire, as I suppose, because they heard, Ye shall sit on twelve thrones, to have the first place of these seats. And that they had an advantage over the others, they knew, but they were afraid of Peter, and say, Command, that one sit on Thy Right Hand, one on Thy left; and they urge Him, saying, Command.
What then saith He? Shewing, that they asked nothing spiritual, neither, if they had known again what they were asking, would they have ventured to ask for so much, He saith, Ye know not what ye ask, how great, how marvellous, how surpassing even the Powers above. After that He adds, Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the Baptism that I am baptized with? Seest thou, how He straightway drew them off from their suspicion, by framing His discourse from the contrary topics? For ye, He saith, talk to me of honour and crowns, but I to you of conflicts and labours. For this is not the season for rewards, neither shall that glory of mine appear now, but the present time is one of slaughter, and wars, and dangers.
And see how by the form of His question, He both urges and attracts them. For He said not, "Are ye able to be slain ?" "Are ye able to pour forth your blood ?" but how? Are ye able to drink of the cup?" Then to attract them to it, He saith," Which I shall drink of," that by their fellowship with Him in it they might be made more ready.
And a Baptism again calls He it; shewing that great was the cleansing the world was to have from the things that were being done.
They say unto Him, We are able. Out of their forward