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ing in of the new æon, which he does, saying, “ Now learn a parable of the fig-tree. When his branch is yet* tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” (ver. 32, 33.)
It would appear from St. Matthew that some beginnings of the threatened withering began to shew themselves, almost as soon as the word of the Lord was spoken ; a shuddering fear may have run through all the leaves of the tree, which was thus stricken at its heart. But it was not till the next morning, as the disciples returned, that they took note of the utter perishing of the tree, which had followed upon that word spoken, so that it was “ dried up from the roots,” and called their Lord's attention to the same: “ Master, behold the fig tree which thou cursedst, is withered away t." The Lord will not let the occasion go by without its further lesson. What he had done, they might do the same and more. Faith in God would place them in relation with the same power which he wielded, so that they might do mightier things even than this at which they marvelled so much.
* Or rather “is now," jön,
+ In the tone in which this observation was made, an interrogation was implied; they would observe that it was so, and ask of him how it was so. This is yet more evident in St. Matthew's “How soon is the fig-tree 'withered away !” by many made an interrogation; thus in Bishop Lloyd's edition, who prints πως παραχρήμα εξηράνθη η συκή; but in that πως there is not an express question, only an interrogative exclamation.
'The cutting off the ear of the servant of the high priest by one of the disciples, who would fain have fought for his Master that he should not be delivered to the Jews, is related by all four evangelists, (Matt. xxvi. 51; Mark xiv. 47; Luke xxii. 50; John xviii. 10 ;) but the miracle belongs only to St. Luke, for he only tells how the Lord made good the wrong which his disciple had inflicted. And we may trace, perhaps, in this Evangelist a double interest which might have specially moved him to the including in his gospel this work of grace. As a physician, this cure, the only one of its kind which we know of our Lord's performing, the only miraculous healing of a wound inflicted by external violence, would attract his special attention. And then, besides, thero was nothing nearer to St. Luke's heart, or that cohered more intimately with the purpose of his Gospel, ihan the pourtraying of the Lord on the side of his gentleness, his mercy, and benignity; all which so gloriously shone out in this gracious work in favour of one who was in arms against his life.
The Evangelist, no doubt, knew very well, but has not thought good to tell us, who it was that struck this blow,— whether the deed might still have brought him into trouble, though that appears an exceedingly improbable explanation, or from some other cause. St. Matthew and St. Mark cqually preserve silence on this head, and are content with generally designating him, Matthew as “one of them who were with Jesus," Mark as “one of them which stood by." And it is only from St. John that we learn, what perhaps otherwise we might have guessed, but could not certainly have known, that it was St. Peter, who in this way sought to deliver his imperilled Lord. He also alone gives us the name of the high priest's servant who was smitten ; "the serrant's name was Malchus.” The last may easily have been unknown to the other Evangelists, though it very naturally came within the circle of St. John's knowledge, who had, in some way that is not explained to us, acquaintance with the high priest, (John xviii. 15,) and with the constitution of his household; so accurate an acquaintance, as that he was aware even of so slight a circumstance as that one of those, who later in the night provoked Peter to his denial of Christ, was kinsman of him whose car Peter had cut oft. (ver. 26.)
The whole circumstance is singularly characteristic; the word-bearer for the rest of the apostles proves, when occasion requires, the sucord-bearer also—not indeed in this altogether of a different temper from the others, but showing himself prompter and more forward in action than them all. While they are saying, “ Lord, shall we smite with the sword ?” perplexed between the natural instinct of defence and love of their perilled Lord, on the one side, and his precepts on the other, that they should not resist the evil,—he waits not for the answer, but impelled by the natural courage of his lieart *, and taking no heed of the odds against him, aims a blow at one, probably the foremost of the band,—the first that was daring to lay profane hands on the sacred person of his Lord. This was “a serrant of the high priest's,” one therefore who, according to the proverb, “like master like man,” may very probably have been especially forward in this bad work,— himself a Caiaphas of a meaner stamp. Peter was not likely to strike with any other but a right good will, and no doubt the blow was intended to cleave down the aggressor, though by God's good providence the stroke was turned aside, and grazing the head at which it was aimed, but still coming down with sheer descent, cut off
the ear,—the “right ear,” as St. Luke and St. John tell us,—of the assailant who thus hardly escaped with his life.
The words with which our Lord rebuked the untimely zeal* of his disciples are differently given by different Evangelists, or rather they have each given a different portion, each one enough to indicate the spirit in which all was spoken. In St. Matthew they are related most at length. That moment, indeed, of uttermost confusion seems to have been no fitting one for a discourse so long as that which he records, not to speak of further words recorded by the others ; nor is it at first easy to see how he could have found opportunity for them. But if we suppose that he gave this monition to his disciples, while the healing of Malchus was going forward, and while all were attentive to and wondering at that, the difficulty will disappear ;—not to say that his captors, who may have feared resistance or attempts at rescue on the part of his servants, now that they found his
* Modern expositors are sometimes a good deal too hard upon this deed of Peter's. Calvin, for instance, who has a great deal more in this tone: Stulto suo zelo Petrus gravem infamiam magistro suo ejusque doctrina inusserat. The wisest word upon the matter (and on its Old Testament parallel, Exod. ii. 12) is to be found in AUGUSTINE, Con. Faust., l. 22, c. 70. He keeps as far from this unmeasured rebuke as from the absurdity of the Romish expositors, who many of them exalt and magnify this act as one of an holy and righteous indignation. Stella, for instance, (in loc.) who likens it to the act of Phinehas, (Num. xxv. 7,) by which he won the high priesthood for his family for ever. Leo the Great, (Serm. 50, c. 4,) had already spoken of it in the same way: Nam et beatus Petrus, qui animosiore constantià Domino cohærebat, et contra violentorum impetus fervore sanctae caritatis exarserat, in servum principis sacerdotum usus est gladio, et aurem viri ferociùs instantis abscidit. Another finds in the words of the Lord, “ Put up thy suord into the sheath,” a sanction for the wielding of the civil sword by the Church; for, as he bids us note, Christ does not say, “Put away thy sword;” but “ Put up thy sword into the sheath,”—that is “Keep it in readiness to draw forth again, when the right occasion shall arrive.”— Tertullian, in an opposite extreme, finds in these words a declaration of the unlawfulness of the military service under every circunstance for the Christian (De Idolol., c. 19): Omnem militem Dominus in Petro exarmando discinxit.
words to be words prohibiting aught of the kind, may have been most willing to suffer him to speak unhindered.
Our Lord, when he joins together the taking the sword and perishing with the sword, refers, no doubt, to the primal law, “ Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed,” (Gen. ix. 6,) as again there is probable allusion to these words of his, Rev. xiii. 10. But the application of the words, “ All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword,” has been sometimes erroneously made, as though Christ, to quiet Peter, were saying, “ There is no need for thee to assume the task of the punishing these violent men : they have taken the sword, and by the just judgment of God they will perish by the sword *.” But the warning against taking the sword connects itself so closely with the command, “ Put up again thy sword into his place," and the meaning of the verse following (Matt. xxvi. 53) is so plainly, “Thinkest thou that I need help so poor as thine, when, instead of you, twelve weak trembling men, inexpert in war, I might even nowf pray to my Father, and he would give me on the moment twelve legions of mighty angels on my behalf?”—
• Grotius : Noli, Petre consideratione ejus quæ mihi infertur injuriæ concitatior, Deo præripere ultionem. Levia enim sunt vulnera quæ à te pati possunt. Stat enim rata sententia, crudeles istos et sanguinarios, etiam te quiescente, gravissimas Deo daturas pænas suo sanguine. This interpretation is a good deal older than Grotius. It is, I think, Chrysostom's, and Euthymius sees in these words a apoonreía tâs orad@opās twv € EAθόντων αυτω 'Ιουδαίων.
+ "Aptı. “Even now at the latest moment, when things are gone so far, when I am already in the hands of mine enemies.”—Kai tapaotidet MOL = et servitio meo sistet. (Rom. vi. 19; xii. 1.)
# The phrase is remarkable, when connected with the expression #noos otpatiâs oúpavíov, Luke ii. 13, and some other similar language. Without falling in with the dreams of the Areopagite, we may see here intimations of an hierarchy in heaven. Bengel: Angeli in suos numeros et ordines divisi sunt.
§ Jerome: Non indigen duodecim apostolorum auxilio, qui possum habere duodecim legiones angelici exercitùs. Maldonatus : Mihi quidem verosimile videtur Christum angelos non militibus, sed discipulis opponere, qui duodeciin erant, ac propterea duodecim non plures nec pauciores legiones