1. After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened
bread--The meaning is, that two days after what is about to be
mentioned the passover would arrive; in other words, what follows
occurred two days before the feast.
and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him
by craft, and put him to death--From Matthew's fuller account
we learn that our Lord announced this to the Twelve as follows, being
the first announcement to them of the precise time: "And it came to
pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings"
--referring to the contents of
which He delivered to His disciples; His publicministry being now
closed: from His prophetical He is now passing into His
priestlyoffice, although all along He Himself took our
infirmities and bare our sicknesses--"He said unto His disciples, Ye
know that after two days is [the feast of] the passover, and the Son of
man is betrayed to be crucified." The first and the last
steps of His final sufferings are brought together in this brief
announcement of all that was to take place. The passover was the
first and the chief of the three great annual festivals, commemorative
of the redemption of God's people from Egypt, through the sprinkling of
the blood of a lamb divinely appointed to be slain for that end; the
destroying angel, "when he saw the blood, passing over" the
Israelitish houses, on which that blood was seen, when he came to
destroy all the first-born in the land of Egypt
(Ex 12:12, 13)
--bright typical foreshadowing of the great Sacrifice, and the
Redemption effected thereby. Accordingly, "by the determinate counsel
and foreknowledge of God, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in
working," it was so ordered that precisely at the passover season,
"Christ our Passover should be sacrificed for us." On the day following
the passover commenced "the feast of unleavened bread," so called
because for seven days only unleavened bread was to be eaten
We are further told by Matthew
that the consultation was held in the palace of Caiaphas the high
priest, between the chief priests, [the scribes], and the elders of the
people, how "they might take Jesus by subtlety and kill Him."
2. But they said, Not on the feast day--rather, not during the feast;
not until the seven days of unleavened bread should be over.
lest there be an uproar of the people--In consequence of the vast
influx of strangers, embracing all the male population of the land who
had reached a certain age, there were within the walls of Jerusalem at
this festival some two million people; and in their excited state, the
danger of tumult and bloodshed among "the people," who for the most part
took Jesus for a prophet, was extreme. See JOSEPHUS
[Antiquities, 20.5.3]. What plan, if any, these ecclesiastics fixed
upon for seizing our Lord, does not appear. But the proposal of Judas
being at once and eagerly gone into, it is probable they were till then
at some loss for a plan sufficiently quiet and yet effectual. So, just
at the feast time shall it be done; the unexpected offer of Judas
relieving them of their fears. Thus, as BENGEL remarks, did the divine
counsel take effect.
The Supper and the Anointing at Bethany Six Days before the
The time of this part of the narrative is four days before what has
just been related. Had it been part of the regular train of events which
our Evangelist designed to record, he would probably have inserted it in
its proper place, before the conspiracy of the Jewish authorities. But
having come to the treason of Judas, he seems to have gone back upon
this scene as what probably gave immediate occasion to the awful deed.
3. And being in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at
meat, there came a woman--It was "Mary," as we learn from
having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard--pure nard, a
very precious--"very costly"
and she brake the box, and poured it on his head--"and anointed," adds
"the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the house was
filled with the odor of the ointment." The only use of this was to
refresh and exhilarate--a grateful compliment in the East, amid the
closeness of a heated atmosphere, with many guests at a feast. Such was
the form in which Mary's love to Christ, at so much cost to herself,
poured itself out.
4. And there were some that had indignation within themselves and
"But when His disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying," &c. The
spokesman, however, was none of the true-hearted Eleven--as we learn
"Then saith one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which
should betray Him." Doubtless the thought stirred first in his breast,
and issued from his base lips; and some of the rest, ignorant of his
true character and feelings, and carried away by his plausible speech,
might for the moment feel some chagrin at the apparent waste.
Why was this waste of the ointment made?
5. For it might have been sold for more than three hundred
pence--between nine and ten pounds sterling.
and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against
her--"This he said," remarks John
and the remark is of exceeding importance, "not that he cared for the
poor but because he was a thief, and had the bag"--the scrip or
treasure chest--"and bare what was put therein"--not "bare it off" by
theft, as some understand it. It is true that he did this; but the
expression means simply that he had charge of it and its contents, or
was treasurer to Jesus and the Twelve. What a remarkable arrangement
was this, by which an avaricious and dishonest person was not only
taken into the number of the Twelve, but entrusted with the custody of
their little property! The purposes which this served are obvious
enough; but it is further noticeable, that the remotest hint was never
given to the Eleven of his true character, nor did the disciples most
favored with the intimacy of Jesus ever suspect him, till a few minutes
before he voluntarily separated himself from their company--for
6. And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought
a good work on me--It was good in itself, and so was acceptable to
Christ; it was eminently seasonable, and so more acceptable still; and
it was "what she could," and so most acceptable of all.
7. For ye have the poor with you always--referring to
and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always--a gentle hint of His approaching departure, by One who knew the worth of
His own presence.
8. She hath done what she could--a noble testimony, embodying a
principle of immense importance.
she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying--or, as in
"Against the day of my burying hath she kept this." Not that she, dear
heart, thought of His burial, much less reserved any of her nard to
anoint her dead Lord. But as the time was so near at hand when that
office would have to be performed, and she was not to have that
privilege even after the spices were brought for the purpose
He lovingly regards it as done now. "In the act of love done to
Him," says OLSHAUSEN beautifully, "she has erected
to herself an eternal monument, as lasting as the Gospel, the eternal
Word of God. From generation to generation this remarkable prophecy of
the Lord has been fulfilled; and even we, in explaining this saying of
the Redeemer, of necessity contribute to its accomplishment." "Who but
Himself," asks STIER, "had the power to ensure to
any work of man, even if resounding in His own time through the whole
earth, an imperishable remembrance in the stream of history? Behold
once more here the majesty of His royal judicial supremacy in the
government of the world, in this, 'Verily I say unto you.'"
10. And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests,
to betray him unto them--that is, to make his proposals, and to bargain
with them, as appears from Matthew's fuller statement
(Mt 26:14, 15)
which says, he "went unto the chief priests, and said, What will ye
give me, and I will deliver Him unto you? And they covenanted with him
for thirty pieces of silver." The thirty pieces of silver were thirty
shekels, the fine paid for man- or maid-servant accidentally killed
and equal to between four and five pounds sterling--"a goodly
price that I was prized at of them!"
11. And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him
money--Matthew alone records the precise sum, because a remarkable and
complicated prophecy, which he was afterwards to refer to, was fulfilled
And he sought how he might conveniently betray him--or, as more fully
given in Luke
"And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray Him unto them in the
absence of the multitude." That he should avoid an "uproar" or "riot"
among the people, which probably was made an essential condition by the
Jewish authorities, was thus assented to by the traitor; into whom,
"Satan entered," to put him upon this hellish deed.
Had we only the first three Gospels, we should have concluded that our
Lord was led immediately to Caiaphas, and had before the Council. But as
the Sanhedrim could hardly have been brought together at the dead hour
of night--by which time our Lord was in the hands of the officers sent
to take Him--and as it was only "as soon as it was day" that the Council
we should have had some difficulty in knowing what was done with Him
during those intervening hours. In the Fourth Gospel, however, all this
is cleared up, and a very important addition to our information is made
(Joh 18:13, 14, 19-24).
Let us endeavor to trace the events in the true order of succession,
and in the detail supplied by a comparison of all the four streams of
Jesus Is Brought Privately before Annas, the Father-in-Law of
(Joh 18:13, 14).
And they led Him away to Annas first; for he was father-in-law toCaiaphas, which was the high priest that same year--This
successful Annas, as ELLICOTT remarks, was appointed high priest by
Quirinus, A.D. 12, and after holding the office for several years, was
deposed by Valerius Gratius, Pilate's predecessor in the procuratorship
of Judea [J