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(St. Matt. xxi. 23-27; St. Mark xi. 27-33; St. Luke xx. 1-8; St. Matt. xxii. 15-22 ;

St. Mark xii. 13-17; St. Luke xx. 20-26; St. Matt. xxii. 41-46; St. Luke xxi. 1-4; St. John xii. 20-50.)


a St. Mark xi. 20

The record of this third day is so crowded, the actors introduced on the scene are so many, the occurrences so varied, and the transitions so rapid, that it is even more than usually difficult to arrange all in chronological order. Nor need we wonder at this, when we remember that this was, so to speak, Christ's last working-day-the last, of His public Mission to Israel, so far as its active part was concerned ; the last day in the Temple; the last, of teaching and warning to Pharisees and Sadducees; the last, of His call to national repentance.

That what follows must be included in one day, appears from the circumstance that its beginning is expressly mentioned by St. Marka in connection with the notice of the withering of the fig-tree, while its close is not only indicated in the last words of Christ's Discourses, as reported by the Synoptists, but the beginning of another day is afterwards equally clearly marked.

Considering the multiplicity of occurrences, it will be better to

group them together, rather than follow the exact order of their sucMark ti vst; cession. Accordingly, this chapter will be devoted to the events of

the third day in Passion Week.

1. As usually, the day commenced d with teaching in the Temple. We gather this from the expression: "as He was walking,'' viz., in one of the Porches, where, as we know, considerable freedom of meeting, conversing, or even teaching, was allowed. It will be remembered, that on the previous day the authorities had been afraid to interfere with Him. In silence they had witnessed, with im

b St. Matt.
XXV. 46;
St. Mark
xiii. 37 ; St.
Luke xxi.
St. Matt.

St. Luke xxii. 1

d St. Matthew e St. Luke

1 St. Mark





potent rage, the expulsion of their traffic-mongers ; in silence they had listened to His teaching, and seen His miracles. Not till the Hosanna of the little boys-perhaps those children of the Levites who acted as choristers in the Temple ? — wakened them from the stupor of their fears, had they ventured on a feeble remonstrance, in the forlorn hope that He might be induced to conciliate them. But with the night and morning other counsels had come. Besides, the circumstances were somewhat different. It was early morning, the hearers were new, and the wondrous influence of His Words had not yet bent them to His Will. From the formal manner in which the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders' are introduced, and from St. Mark the circumstance that they so met Christ immediately on His entry into the Temple, we can scarcely doubt that a meeting, although informal, of the authorities had been held to concert measures against the growing danger. Yet, even so, cowardice as well as cunning marked their procedure. They dared not directly oppose Him, but endeavoured, by attacking Him on the one point where He seemed to lay Himself open to it, to arrogate to themselves the appearance of strict legality, and so to turn popular feeling against Him.

For, there was no principle more firmly established by universal consent than that authoritative teaching required previous authorisation. Indeed, this logically followed from the principle of Rabbinism. All teaching must be authoritative, since it was traditional approved by authority, and handed down from teacher to disciple. The highest honour of a scholar was, that he was like a well-plastered cistern, from which not a drop had leaked of what had been poured into it. The ultimate appeal in cases of discussion was always to some great authority, whether an individual Teacher or a Decree by the Sanhedrin. In this manner had the great Hillel first vindicated his claim to be the Teacher of his time and to decide the disputes then pending. And, to decide differently from authority, was either the mark of ignorant assumption or the outcome of daring rebellion, in either case to be visited with the ban.'

And this was at least one aspect of the controversy as between the chief authorities and Jesus. No one would have thought of interfering with a

'For these Levite chorister-boys, comp. «The Temple and its Services,' p. 143,

There is no evidence of a formal meeting of the Sanhedrin, nor, indeed, was there any case which, according to Jewish Law, could have been laid before them. Still less can

(with Dean Plumptre), that the Chief Priests, Scribes, and Elders represented *the then constituent elements of the Sanhedrin.'

3 Otherwise the greatest liberty of utterance was accorded to all who were qualified to teach.

we admit

b Jer. Sanh. 19 a; lines

e Sanh. i. 3

d Sanl. 76

BOOK mere Haggadist-a popular expositor, preacher, or teller of legends. V But authoritatively to teach, required other warrant. In fact, there

was regular ordination (Semichah) to the office of Rabbi, Elder, and Judge, for the three functions were combined in one. According to the Mishnah, the disciples' sat before the Sanhedrin in three rows,

the members of the Sanhedrin being recruited successively from the - Sanh. iv. 4 front-rank of the Scholars. At first the practice is said to have been

for every Rabbi to accredit his own disciples. But afterwards this right was transferred to the Sanhedrin, with the proviso that this body might not ordain without the consent of its Chief, though the

latter might do so without consent of the Sanhedrin. But this 20-from privilege was afterwards withdrawn on account of abuses. Although

we have not any description of the earliest mode of ordination, the very name-Semichah-implies the imposition of hands. Again, in the oldest record, reaching up, no doubt, to the time of Christ, the presence of at least three ordained persons was required for ordination. At a later period, the presence of an ordained Rabbi, with the assessorship of two others, even if unordained, was deemed sufficient. In the course of time certain formalities were added. The person to be ordained had to deliver a Discourse; hymns and poems were recited; the title · Rabbi' was formally bestowed on the candidate, and authority given him to teach and to act as Judge [to bind and loose, to declare guilty or free). Nay, there seem to have been even different orders, according to the authority bestowed on the person ordained. The formula in bestowing full orders was: • Let him teach ; let him teach; let him judge; let him decide on questions of first-born ;' let him decide ; let him judge!' At one time it was held that ordination could only take place in the Holy Land. Those who went abroad took with them their letters of orders.'2

At whatever periods some of these practices may have been introduced, it is at least certain that, at the time of our Lord, no one would have ventured authoritatively to teach without proper Rabbinic authorisation. The question, therefore, with which the Jewish authorities met Christ, while teaching, was one which had a very real meaning, and appealed to the habits and feelings of the people

· These involved points of special was handed at ordination (Dean Plumpdifficulty in canon-law.

tre and many others), it is difficult to 2 Comp. Hamburger, Real-Encycl. ii. say-unless it be from a misunderstandpp. 883-886.

But he adds little to the ing of St. Luke xi. 52, or from a learned labours of Selden, De Synedriis, strange mistake of Lightfoot's meaning ed. Frcf. pp. 681-713. Hon the notion ad loc. can have arisen that in early times a key





383 who listened to Jesus. Otherwise, also, it was cunningly framed. For, it did not merely challenge Him for teaching, but also asked for His authority in what He did; referring not only to His Work generally, but, perhaps, especially to what had happened on the previous day. They were not there to oppose Him; but, when a man did as He had done in the Temple, it was their duty to verify his credentials. Finally, the alternative question reported by St. Mark: or?—if Thou hast not proper Rabbinic commission—who gave Thee this authority to do these things ?' seems clearly to point to their contention, that the power which Jesus wielded was delegated to Him by none other than Beelzebul.

The point in our Lord's reply seems to have been strangely overlooked by commentators. As His words are generally under- St. Matt. stood, they would have amounted only to silencing His questioners St Mark xi. —and that, in a manner which would, under ordinary circum- [nke xx. stances, be scarcely regarded as either fair or ingenuous. It would have been simply to turn the question against themselves, and so in turn to raise popular prejudice. But the Lord's words meant quite other. He did answer their question, though He also exposed the cunning and cowardice which prompted it. To the challenge for His authority, and the dark hint about Satanic agency, He replied by an appeal to the Baptist. He had borne full witness to the Mission of Christ from the Father, and all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed.' Were they satisfied ? What was their view of the Baptism in preparation for the Coming of Christ ? No? They would not, or could not, answer! If they said the Baptist was a prophet, this implied not only the authorisation of the Mission of Jesus, but the call to believe on Him. On the other hand, they were afraid publicly to disown John! And so their cunning and cowardice stood out self-condemned, when they pleaded ignorance -a plea so grossly and manifestly dishonest, that Christ, having given what all must have felt to be a complete answer, could refuse further reasoning with them on this point.

2. Foiled in their endeavour to involve Him with the ecclesiastical, they next attempted the much more dangerous device of bringing Him into collision with the civil authorities. Remembering the ever watchful jealousy of Rome, the reckless tyranny of Pilate, and the low artifices of Herod, who at that time was in Jerusalem, ost. Luke we instinctively feel, how even the slightest compromise on the part of Jesus in regard to the authority of Cæsar would have been absolutely fatal. If it could have been proved, on undeniable testimony,



Jos. Ant. xvii. 1.1; XX. 5. 2

b St. Luke
xxiii. 2
• St. Matt.
xxii. 15-22;

13-17; St. Luke xx. 19-26 d St. Luke e St. Matthew


that Jesus had declared Himself on the side of, or even encouraged,

the so-called “Nationalist' party, He would have quickly perished, • Acts v. 37; like Judas of Galilee. The Jewish leaders would thus have readily

accomplished their object, and its unpopularity have recoiled only on the hated Roman power. How great the danger was which threatened Jesus, may be gathered from this, that, despite His clear answer, the charge that He perverted the nation, forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar, was actually among those brought against Him before Pilate.b

The plot, for such it was, was most cunningly concocted. The St. Mark xii. object was to óspy' out His inmost thoughts,d and, if possible, en

tangle' Him in His talk. For this purpose it was not the old Pharisees, whom He knew and would have distrusted, who came, but some of their disciples—apparently fresh, earnest, zealous, conscientious

With them had combined certain of the Herodians'-of course, not a sect nor religious school, but a political party at the time. We know comparatively little of the deeper political movements in Judæa, only so much as it has suited Josephus to record. But we cannot be greatly mistaken in regarding the Herodians as a party which honestly accepted the House of Herod as occupants of the Jewish throne. Differing from the extreme section of the Pharisees, who hated Herod, and from the Nationalists,' it might have been a middle or moderate Jewish party-semi-Roman and semi-Nationalist. We know that it was the ambition of Herod Antipas again to unite under his sway the whole of Palestine; but we know not what intrigues may have been carried on for that purpose, alike with the Pharisees and the Romans. Nor is it the first time in this history, that we find the Pharisees and the Herodians combined.' Herod may, indeed, have been unwilling to incur the unpopularity of personally proceeding against the Great Prophet of Nazareth, especially as he must have had too keen a remembrance of what the murder of John had cost him. Perhaps he would fain, if he could, have made use of Him, and played Him off as the popular Messiah against the popular leaders. But, as matters had gone, he must have been anxious to rid himself of what might be a formidable rival, while, at the same time, his party would be glad to join with the Pharisees in what would secure their gratitude and allegiance. Such, or similar, may have been the motives which brought about this strange alliance of Pharisees and Herodians. Feigning themselves just men, they now came to Jesus with

Comp., for example, St. Mark iii. 6.


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