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own authority, without the permission and assistance of the governor; as they confess, John 'xviii. 31, “ It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.” · This made them so earnest for a declaration in direct words, from his own mouth, that he was the Messiah. It was not that they would more have believed in him, for such a declaration of himself, than they did for his miracles, or other ways of making himself known, which it appears they understood well enough. But they wanted plain direct words, such as might support an accusation, and be of weight before an heathen judge. This was the reason why they pressed him to speak out, John x. 24, “ Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou hold us in suspense ? “ If thou be the Messiah, tell us plainly, naponoiq;"? i. e, in direct words : for that St. John uses it in that sense we may see, chap. xi. 11-14. " Jesus saith to them, Lazarus sleepeth. His disciples said, If he sleeps, he shall do well. Howbeit, Jesus spake of his death ; but they thought he had spoken of taking rest in sleep. . Then said Jesus to them plainly, napiyoia, Lazarus is dead." Here we see what is meant by mapenolą, plain, direct words, such as express the same thing without a figure ; and so they would have had Jesus pronounce himself to be the Messiah. And the same thing they press again, Matt. xxvi. 63, the High Priest adjuring him by the living God, to tell them whether he were the Messiah, the Son of God; as we shall have occasion to take notice by-and-by.
This we may observe in the whole management of their design against his life. It turned upon this, that they wanted and wished for a declaration from him in direct words, that he was the Messiah ; something from his own mouth that might offend the Roman power, and render him criminal to Pilate. In the 21st verse of this twentieth of Luke, “ They asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly; neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly. Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Cæsar, or no?" By this captious question they hoped to catch him, which way soever he answered. For if he had said, they ought to pay tribute to Cæsar, it would be plain he allowed their subjection to the Romans; and so in effect disowned himself to be their King and Deliverer; whereby he would have contradicted what his carriage and doctrine seemed to aim at, the opinion that was spread amongst the people, that he was the Messiah. This would have quashed the hopes, and destroyed the faith of those that believed on him; and have turned the ears and hearts of the people from him. If on the other side he answered, No, it is not lawful to pay tribute to Cæsar; they had had out of his own mouth wherewithal to condemn bim before Pontius Pilate. But St. Luke tells us, ver. 23, “ He perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me?" i. e. Why do ye lay snares for me? “ Ye hypocrites, show me the tribute-money;" so it is, Matt. xxii. 19, “ Whose image and inscription has it? They said, Cæsar's." He said unto them, “Render therefore to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, and to God the things that are God's.” By the wisdom and caution of which unexpected answer, he defeated their whole design : “ And they could not take hold of his words before the people, and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace.” Luke xx. 26. " And leaving him, they departed.” Matt. xxii. 22.
He having, by this reply, (and what he answered to the Sadducees, concerning the resurrection, and to the lawyer, about the first commandment, Mark xii.) answered so little to their satisfaction or advantage, they durst ask him no more questions, any of them. And now, their mouths being stopped, he himself begins to question them about the Messiah ; asking the Pharisees, Matt. xxii. 41, “ What think ye of the Messiah? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David.” Wherein though they answered right, yet he shows them in the following words, that, however they pretended to be studiers and teachers of the law, yet they understood not clearly the Scriptures concerning the Messiah ; and thereupon he sharply rebukes their hypocrisy, vanity, pride, malice, covetousness, and ignorance; and particularly tells them, ver. 13, “ Ye shut up the kingdom
of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, nor suffer ye them that are entering, to go in." Whereby he plainly declares to them, that the Messiah was come, and his kingdom begun; but that they refused to believe in him themselves, and did all they could to hinder others from believing in him, as is manifest throughout the New Testament; the history whereof sufficiently explains what is meant here by " the kingdom of heaven," which the Scribes and Pharisees would neither go into themselves, nor suffer others to enter into. And they could not choose but understand him, though he named not himself in the case.
Provoked anew by his rebukes, they get presently to council, Matt. xxvi. 3, 4. " Then assembled together the Chief Priests, and the Scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the High Priest, who was called Caiaphas, and consulted that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him. But they said, Not on the feast-day, lest there should be an uproar among the people. For they feared the people,” says Luke, chap. xxii. 2.
Having in the night got Jesus into their hands, by the treachery of Judas, they presently led him away bound to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas. Annas, probably, having examined him, and getting nothing out of him for his purpose, sends him away to Caiaphas, John xviii. 24, where the Chief Priests, the Scribes, and the elders were assembled, Matt. xxvi. 57. John' xviii. 13, 19. - The High Priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world : I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort, and in secret have I said nothing.” A proof that he had not in private, to his disciples, declared himself in express words to be the Messiah, the Prince. But he goes on : “ Why askest thou me?” Ask Judas, who has been always with me. « Ask them who heard me, what I have said unto them; behold, they know what I said.” Our Saviour, we see here, warily declines, for the reasons above-mentioned, all discourse of his doctrine. The Sanhedrim, Matt. xxvi. 59, “sought false witness against him :" but when “ they
found none that were sufficient," or came up to the point they desired, which was to have something against him to take away his life, (for so, I think, the words doat and lon mean, Mark xiv. 56, 59,) they try again what they can get out of him himself, concerning his being the Messiah ; which if he owned in express words, they thought they should have enough against him at the tribunal of the Roman governor, to make him “læsæ majestatis reum,” and so take away his life. They therefore say to him, Lukę xxii. 67, “If thou be the Messiah, tell us.” Nay, as St. Matthew hath it, the High Priest adjures him by the living God, to tell him whether he were the Messiah. To which our Saviour replies, “ If I tell you, ye will not believe ; and if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go." If I tell you, and prove to you, by the testimony given me from Heaven, and by the works that I have done among you, you will not believe in me, that I am the Messiah. Or if I should ask where the Messiah is to be born, and what state he should come in ; how he should appear, and other things that you think in me are not reconcileable with the Messiah; you will not answer me, nor let me go, as one that has no pretence to be the Messiah, and you are not afraid should be received for such. But yet I tell you, “ Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God,” ver, 70. " Then say they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am." By which discourse with them, related at large here by St. Luke, it is plain, that the answer of our Saviour, set down by St. Matthew, chap. xxyi. 64, in these words, “ Thou hast said ;' and by St. Mark, chap. xiv. 62, in these, “ I am ;' is an answer only to this ques, tion, “ Art thou then the Son of God ?" And not to that other; “ Art thou the Messiah ?”' which preceded, and he had answered to before; though Matthew' and Mark, contracting the story, set them down together, as if making but one question, omitting all the intervening discourse; whereas it is plain out of St. Luke, that they were two distinct questions, to which Jesus gave two distinct answers. In the first whereof he, according to his usual caution, declined saying in plain
express words, that he was the Messiah ; though in the latter be owned himself to be “the Son of God.” Which, though they, being Jews, understood to signify the Messiah, yet he knew could be no legal or weighty accusation against him, before a heathen; and so it proved. For upon his answering to their question, “ Art thou then the Son of God? Ye say that I am ;" they cry out, Luke xxii. 71, “What need we any further witness ? For we ourselves have heard out of his own mouth. And so, thinking they had enough against him, they hurry him away to Pilate. Pilate asking them, John xviii. 29–32, " What accusation bring you against this man? They answered and said, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have de. livered him up unto thee." Then said Pilate unto them, “Take ye him, and judge him according to your law.” But this would not serve their turn, who aimed at his life, and would be satisfied with nothing else. “The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.” And this was also, “That the saying of Jesus might be ful. filled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.” Pursuing therefore their design of making him appear, to Pontius Pilate, guilty of treason against Cæsar, Luke xxiii. 2, “ They began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar; saying, that he himself is the Messiah, the King;" all which were inferences of theirs, from his saying, he was “the Son of God;" which Pontius Pilate finding, (for it is consonant that he examined them to the precise words he had said) their accusation had no. weight with him. However, the name of king being suggested against Jesus, he thought himself concerned to search it to the bottom, John xviii. 33–37. “Then Pilate entered again into the judgment-hall, and. called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews, Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the Chief Priests have delivered thee unto me: What hast