Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.
~ Matthew 26:2
I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.
~ Song of Solomon 5:2
Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
~ Matthew 24:42
They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
~ Luke 8:13
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
~ Galatians 5:16-17
And hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in trouble: hear me speedily. Draw nigh unto my soul, and redeem it: deliver me because of mine enemies.
~ Psalm 69:17-18
These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
~ John 17:1
Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.
~ Acts 1:16
And when Abner was returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him quietly, and smote him there under the fifth rib, that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother.
~ 2 Samuel 3:27
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
~ Proverbs 27:6
Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.
~ Psalm 41:9
But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?
~ Luke 22:48
The Passion of the Lord, by John Calvin.
Second Sermon—Matthew 26:40-50.
And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me. And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.—Matthew 26:40-50
We have seen this morning how the Son of God, having to sustain so difficult a fight as to appear before the judgment-seat of God His Father to receive sentence of condemnation as our security, was made strong by prayer. For it was necessary that human weakness appear in Him, and it takes nothing away from His divine majesty when He has so bowed down to the dust to bring about our salvation. Now we have to note that it was not only once that He prayed. By which we see that by His example He has exhorted us not to faint if we are not heard as soon as we would wish. So, those who lose courage when our God does not respond to their first wish show that they do not know what it is to pray. For the certain rule for finding our refuge in God involves perseverance. Thus it is that the principal exercise of our faith is prayer. Now faith cannot exist without waiting. It is not possible for God to humor us as soon as we have opened our mouths and formed our request. But it is needful that He delay and that He let us languish oftentimes so that we may know what it is to call upon Him sincerely and without pretense, so that we may declare that our faith is so founded upon the Word of God that it checks us as a bridle so that we may be patient to endure until the opportune time to help us shall have come. Let us note well, then, that our Lord Jesus Christ did not pray to God His Father only once, but that He returned to it a second time.
Besides, we have to consider what we have already touched upon: that is, to know that our Lord Jesus has not formed here any trivial prayer, but He has, as it were, been willing to lay aside all selfish considerations. He Who is the power of God His Father, by Whom all the world is supported, nevertheless, forasmuch as He had to show Himself a weak man, taking our place, being there in our stead; He has declared when He thus reiterated His prayer that it was not as a spectacle that He did it (thus several profane people imagine that when Jesus Christ appeared He suffered nothing), but it was so that we might be taught, that we cannot escape the hand of God and His curse except by this means. Now it is here declared to us (as it was this morning) that our Lord Jesus was crushed to the limit, even so far as that the burden He had received was unsupportable unless the invincible power of the Spirit of God had operated in Him. We must not think that it was superfluous language when He repeated these same words. For what is said in the other passage, that in praying to God we must not use a long babble, as those who believe that in dabbling in words they get much more, does not imply that we should not continue in our prayers, but it is to tax the hypocrisy and superstition of those who believe in breaking God’s ear drums (after a manner of speaking) to persuade Him of what they want. As we see, how this folly has prevailed in the world! Again, how many there are among us who use this sorcery, how many who say no more than their Ave Maria, to whom it seems as if they have gained a great deal every time they say their Lord’s Prayer, and that God will count all their words in which they dabble when they pray! Now I call that real sorcery. For they wretchedly profane the prayer which has been given us by our Lord Jesus Christ, in which He has comprehended in a brief summary all that we can ask of God and what is lawful for us to desire or ask for.
However, that does not imply that if a man is crushed in agony he should not return often to God, and that when he shall have heaved some sighs he should not begin again immediately afterwards. Supposing we come to it without ambition and without display and then that we have no idea of having gained anything by our babble, but that a dear feeling urges us on, then we have the true perseverance, similar to that of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now there is this article to note, as we have said, that the principal thing in all our prayers is that God should control us to such a degree that there is an agreement on our part to conform to His good will. That, surely, is necessary for us. Behold our Lord Jesus Christ, though all His affections were upright, holy, and conformed to righteousness, that, however, insofar as He was natural man, yet He had to fight against the agony and sorrow which might have crushed Him and He had to hold Himself captive under obedience to God His Father. How will it be with us who have nothing but malice and rebellion and who are so corrupted that we did not know how to apply our senses to anything whatever? Would not God be utterly offended? Since that is so, let us learn in praying to God so to hold ourselves in check that no one may give himself such license as he is accustomed to in following his own appetites. But let us know that we shall have profited much, being able to hold ourselves captives, in order that God may be complete master over us.
It is also a noteworthy sentence when our Lord Jesus says to His disciples, “Watch and pray in order not to enter into temptation; for if the Spirit is ready, the flesh is weak.” He showed here, then, that the principal spur which ought to goad us to call upon God is that we have to fight, that our enemies are near, and that they are strong, and that we shall not be able to resist them without being helped and aided from on high, and that God fight for us. Now we know that when man is assured, he asks only to be given all his comforts and to sleep. For we do not voluntarily accept anxiety or melancholy unless necessity forces it upon us. To be sure, it is a sovereign good to have rest, or else we would be tired out. Nevertheless it is very necessary that necessity press us to be vigilant. Our Lord Jesus, then, not without cause declares that we have to sustain many alarms. For what is said only once to His disciples pertains to all of us in general, since in our lives we must always be ready to meet many temptations. For the devil is our perpetual enemy, if we are members of our Lord Jesus Christ. There will be, then, open war without ending and without ceasing.
Then let us notice what kind of enemy we have to deal with. It is not only one, but the number is infinite. Moreover the devil has a vast number of means to cast us down; now he strikes openly, now he plots underground, and by craftiness he will have surprised us a hundred thousand times before we have thought of it. When it is only as St. Paul says that our enemies are powers who dwell in the air over our heads and that we are here as poor earthworms who only crawl below, that certainly ought to cause us to be concerned. As also St. Peter alleges this reason, that our enemy is like a lion who roars and seeks prey and who never rests. That, then, is what we have to observe in the saying of our Lord Jesus that we must be on our guard in order not to enter into temptation. Besides, although we are vigilant, though we keep good watch, yet we cannot be exempt from the devil’s raising himself against us or our being assailed by him in many and diverse ways. We cannot, then, repulse the blows from afar. But before entering into combat, we must be on our guard lest we be plunged into temptation.
Let us learn, then, although the believers and children of God desire to have rest, nevertheless, they must not desire to be here at their ease. But let it be sufficient for them that God perfects His power in their weakness, as also St. Paul says that he had to pass through that. It is, I say, the condition of all the children of God to battle in this world, because they cannot serve God without opposition. But although they are weak, although they can be impeded, even often beaten down, may they be content to be helped and aided by the hand of God, and may they always lean upon this promise, that our faith will be victorious over all the world. Yet also the remedy proposed to us is that we fight. To be sure Satan is always making new beginnings to assail us, but Jesus Christ also commands us to watch. Besides, He shows that those who presume upon their own strength will be conquered by Satan a hundred thousand times before they obtain a single victory. What is needed, then? That, confessing with all humility that we can do nothing, we come to our God.
Here, then, are our real arms. It is He Who takes from us all fear and terror. It is He Who can give us assurance and resolution, that even to the end we shall remain safe and sound, that is, when we call upon God. As Solomon says, (Proverbs 18:10) “His Name is a strong tower and the righteous man will have in Him his good and assured retreat.”
Also says the Prophet Joel, “Although the world be turned upside down, whoever calls upon the Name of the Lord will be saved.”That is especially applied to the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ, in order that we may be entirely persuaded that, although our salvation may be, as it were, in suspense, and though we may see, as it were, a thousand hazards, yet God will always keep us in His protection, and we shall feel that His power is always near us, and ready to help us, provided we seek it by prayer of mouth and heart. That, then, in summary is what we have to remember. In order that we may be better confirmed in this doctrine, let us note that our Lord Jesus in praying not only called upon God for Himself and for His own use, but He has dedicated all our requests and prayers so that they are holy and God approves them and finds them acceptable. As it says in the seventeenth chapter of Saint John, He sanctifies Himself in order that we all may be sanctified in Him. Surely we must also conclude that He prayed in order that His prayer may avail today, and that it might have its full strength, and that by this means we might all be heard.
This consideration is very valuable when he adds, “The Spirit is ready, but the flesh is weak.” For it is to show that all have need of the advice which He here urged upon His disciples. For many think that they have gained all if they have some good desire. That makes them indifferent. Soon afterwards they are seized with such laziness and coldness that they recoil from God and despise His help. That is also the cause why God often withdraws Himself and hides His power. For it is a good thing that men who confide too much in themselves find themselves frustrated and God mocks their arrogance and foolish imagination. In order, then, that both great and small may know that they cannot dispense with the help of God, and whatever graces they have received, God must still maintain in them what He has put there and even augment it that they may be strengthened, it is here said, “The Spirit is ready, but the flesh is weak.” That is, since we feel in us some good will, and God has already set us on the way, and has extended to us His hand, may we experience that He really governs us by His Holy Spirit. Although, then, we may have all of that, yet we must not be slow to pray. And why not? Let us consider whether there is in us only the Spirit. Surely we shall find many infirmities remaining. Although God may have already worked in such a way that we may have whereof to offer thanks to Him and to magnify His goodness; yet there is reason to bow our heads and to see that if He left us we would very soon be, I do not say weakened, but altogether fainting.
In a word, our Lord Jesus here wished to show that those who are the most perfect, the most advanced, and upon whom God has poured the graces and powers of His Holy Spirit, still must be humble, and they must walk in fear and carefulness, must call upon God every hour, knowing that it is not enough that He has begun if He does not finish. Surely every good must come from Him. When He has given the goodwill He must continue to carry it out more fully, since perseverance is the most singular and the most rare gift there is. That is why our Lord Jesus wished to exhort us. Now if those who can be called spiritual, that is, who have an ardent zeal to serve God, who are fully accustomed to have recourse to Him, who are exercised in prayer of mouth and heart to God, are still so weak that in a single moment they can be ruined unless they are calling upon God; what will happen to those who are still so earthly and so pitiably weighed down that they cannot drag their legs and they hardly have a good impulse or a single good thought? How they must have to struggle for the prize! So then, may each one of us examine himself, and we shall find that we are so lax and so dull in the matter of praying to God that there is sometimes more ceremony than feeling. Seeing that, may we learn to be displeased with ourselves for such a vice and such laxity. May we even detest such a corruption, may we take pains to call upon God, and to raise our spirits on high and to seek the remedy which is here proposed for us. That, then, in a word, is what we have to remember.
Now when it is said that the disciples went to sleep for the third time, even though they had been spurred so sharply (beyond what we discussed this morning, that is, that we see how Jesus Christ to perfect our salvation sought no other companion) let us also contemplate how slow we are. For it is certain that we have no more ability than these three who are here mentioned, and yet they were the most excellent of the company, and those whom Jesus Christ had marked as the flower of the twelve, who were to publish the Gospel to all the world. Although, then, there was already such a good beginning, yet we see how they weakened. Now it is in order that we may have recourse only to the Son of God and that we may seek in Him all that is lacking in us, and that we may not lose courage when we feel such a weakness in us. It is true that the example of the Apostles gives us no occasion at all to flatter ourselves (as many will say that they have as much right to sleep as Peter and John and James) but rather to make us displeased with our vices, that we may always know that our Lord Jesus is ready to receive us, provided we come to Him. Furthermore, there is always this special reason that we declared this morning, that it was necessary that everything that is man should give way in order that we may know that the accomplishment of our salvation is in Him who was appointed by God as our Mediator. We must also note when we are near our Lord Jesus Christ that it is then that we must be more vigilant. For the worldlings and those whom God has cut off entirely as rotten members whom He abandons, have no great fight. For the devil already has dominion over them. And that is why they can sleep at their ease. But according as our Lord Jesus exercises toward us the grace to call us to Himself, and to draw near to us familiarly, the battles are also instigated by Satan, because he wishes to draw us back from the obedience of the Son of God. When (I say) he sees that we are on the right track, then we have all the more rude assaults. Thus may each one prepare himself, knowing for what he was called by God, and what is his charge. This, then, is, in summary, what we have to remember.
Besides, when it is said “Sleep and rest, the hour has come” that is, as it were, a declaration that they would soon be surprised unless God watched over them. However, He rebukes them by saying, “How now? Look where you are. For the devil is making every effort for the perdition of mankind, and in My Person the Kingdom of God must be recovered, or all creatures will perish. Yet here you are sleeping.”Now this admonition hardly served for that time. But as time passed the disciples knew they must attribute all praise for their salvation to God, in view of their ingratitude, which was displayed in such brutish cowardice. So now we are admonished (as I have already mentioned) that the Son of God had to be shown to be our Redeemer by Himself alone and without aid. Besides, let us also learn that it is absolutely necessary that God watch over us even while we sleep. For how many times will it happen that the devil would have oppressed us a hundred thousand times? Yet what means have we to resist him, unless God have pity on us, although He sees us, as it were, reduced to insensibility. So that must not give us occasion to go astray and to quit addressing God in prayer. But still we must always remember this sentence from the Psalm,
“He who watches over Israel never sleeps; what is more He slumbers not.”(Psalm 121:4.)
So for our part let us be vigilant, even as we are urged by this exhortation. But let us recognize that however vigilant we ourselves may be, God must still keep a careful watch. Otherwise our enemies would soon win against us.
It follows that Jesus Christ says to His disciples, “Let us go; he who betrays Me draws near.” He does not wish them to keep Him company (as we have already declared) except that they see how He does not spare Himself for their sakes, nor for the sake of the human race. For He presented Himself to receive all the blows and to exempt them from them, as it was necessary that this word might be fulfilled. “He let nothing perish of that which the heavenly Father had given Him and committed to His charge and protection.”But by that he declares that He went voluntarily to death, following what we have treated this morning, that the sacrifice of obedience had to answer to wipe out all our rebellions. If Jesus Christ of His free will had not been offered to appease the wrath of God His Father, His death and passion would not have been of any use to us. But He holds Himself to it and declares that as He has put on our nature in order to accomplish our redemption, now in the supreme act, He did not wish to fail in His office.
According to the narrative, “Judas had given a sign of Him Whom he betrayed, that it was Jesus, and that He was seized, and having arrived he kisses Him and says to Him, ‘Hail, Master!'” Now let us note that this was a manner of greeting. As in some nations they embrace, in other nations they shake hands. The Jews were entirely accustomed to this kiss, as one sees by Holy Scripture. Besides, one would find it strange that Judas, being part of the company of Jesus Christ a little while before, that is, even that same night, returns and kisses Him as if he came from a distant journey. But he uses this ceremony, because he comes there as a frightened man. And that is why the other Gospel-writer says, “Rabbi, Rabbi, Hail!”He makes believe, then, that he is very sorry that his master is thus assailed. When he sees such a company who come to surprise Him, he draws near and kisses Jesus Christ, as if to say, “O my Master, they are looking for You, here are Your enemies who surround You, they seek to exterminate You, You will be cut off from the midst of men, once they put their hands upon You.”That, then, is a sign of pity and compassion which Judas gives.
Further, it is said that Jesus Christ reproaches him, “Friend, why art thou come?”which is as if He said, “You villain, you who have been with Me at My table, you have been, as it were, of My blood, when we were united as children of God (for I being your Head, so I have recognized you as My members) and yet you come to betray Me, even by a kiss.”Upon which let us note that the Son of God had to be marked, in order that Scripture might be so much better proved, and that it might be known that it was He Whom God had elected as our Redeemer. For all this had been typified in the person of David, who was, as it were, a mirror and image of the Son of God. Now it says that it is not strangers nor those who have openly declared themselves His enemies who molested and tormented Him, but “He (says He) who ate bread at My table has kicked up his heel for betrayal, he has surrounded Me, he has betrayed Me falsely.” Indeed, even he (as He says in the other passage) who accompanied Me to go together into the house of the Lord.”As if God said there was not only a private and human friendship, as it would be between those living in common, but that there was holy brotherhood dedicated to the name of God. This, then, is what the Holy Spirit wished to show us, that nothing happened to the Son of God which had not been testified previously and which had not been typified, in order that we may be all the better assured that it is He Who from all time had been established by God, since He bears such infallible marks.
Besides, in the person of Judas we see that the Church of God will always be subject to many betrayals. To be sure, it is something to have Satan with all his paraphernalia for an enemy, and everything we have already declared, and to have also those who fight openly against God and seek only the confusion of His Church. It is something (I say) that we have to fight against such enemies, but God still wills to prove our patience in this respect, that in our midst there may always be domestic enemies, who are full of betrayal and disloyalty. Although this plague is detestable, yet the Church never will be purged of it. Surely we must guard against it, and each one must try, as much as it is in his power, to scrape such an odor and infection. But when we shall have done all, still God will always permit that there be Judases. For since it was typified in David, and since it was fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ, we must be conformed to Him (as Saint Paul says), for He carries, as it were, the coat of arms of the house of God, being the first-born among; all believers. We must, then, have this condition in common with Him. But we can see here that it is from a frightened conscience, when God put there the spirit of disturbance, frenzy or stupidity, as He often spoke of it by His prophets. Judas, then, shows us the penalty of those who knowingly fight against God, that they must be so lost that they no longer have either sense of reason. However, they try to hide everything by hypocrisy even to saying that God forces them and that He leads them even to their final condemnation. At first glance it surely seems that these two things are opposed:
(1) that a man comes to throw himself like a savage bull against God, that he has forgotten that it won’t do him any good to spit at the sun, that often he wishes to spite nature, and
(2) yet tries to hide himself by subterfuges, and he thinks to gain something by his hypocrisy. One will say that those two things are incompatible. But they are seen in Judas. For he had experienced the heavenly power of our Lord Jesus Christ, he had seen so many miracles, and on his part he had done them, even in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Having known, then, that the Son of God has all power both over life and over death, he betrays Him, and says he did justly. For otherwise he would have immediately escaped. Judas, then, is entirely depraved of sense and reason, and is, as it were, frantic. So it is only by a kiss and by these sweet words, saying “Alas my Master,”he does not yet allow himself to have subterfuges, thinking he will be acquitted by this means. But that is how Satan dazzles his lackeys.
Let us learn, then, in the first place, to humble ourselves that no one throw himself against this rock which is too hard. That is, may we not wage war against our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us watch carefully, then, lest we stand in this devilish rage, lest we fight against the truth, and lest we contend against our conscience, so that we knowingly provoke the wrath of God, as if we wished to defy Him. Let us guard against that. Let us not so flatter ourselves in our hypocrisy and in our fictions that we are finally cheated and deceived by them. For we see what happened to Judas (as it is mentioned in the account), that it was not necessary that a judge condemn him, that it was not necessary to compel him to recant. But he confessed that he had sold and betrayed righteous blood. However, he did not ask pardon for his misdeed, but he went away in despair to hang himself and he burst asunder. Let us be well advised, then, not to give such access to Satan that he tears our eyes when we are asleep in our sins, and not to expect by this means to escape the hand of God. But let us remove all this make-believe.
Besides, let us recognize that it is certainly commanded to us to kiss the Son of God in Psalm 2:12, but that is to do Him homage as our King and as Him Who has sovereign Dominion over all creatures. For the word “Kiss” implies only reverence and a solemn protestation that we are His own. As He said, “You call me Master, and you do well.”But in coming to Him let us be advised not to call Him Master from the tip of the tongue while we are yet enemies to Him, not to practice toward Him a false reverence in order to kick against Him and to give Him the boot. That is, may we not be stubborn and peevish by our disloyalty, but may we show that we have sought to maintain ourselves in His Church only in order to serve our God. Let us, then, be admonished of all that. Besides, although the word of our Lord Jesus Christ did not immediately take effect upon Judas, finally by virtue of this word he had to hang himself without waiting for other condemnation.
In fact, Saint John tells us how our Lord Jesus struck like lightning, although He used only a single word against all those who came to seek Him, saying, “I am He.” There is a band sent by Pilate. There is a force of men gathered by the Priests. They come there furnished with clubs, swords, and other blades. Jesus Christ is alone. He is as a lamb led to the slaughter-house, as Isaiah says. And what word does He use? “I am He.” And all are thrown down. All fall immediately. And how comes this fall? By it we see that our Lord Jesus, although He is humbled for a time, even emptied of everything, never ceased to retain, when it seemed good to Him, His heavenly power in order to cast down all His enemies, if He had wished. Let us compare our times with what was done then. Jesus Christ had to be bound and fastened (as we shall see later). He had to let His enemies rule. For Satan had unleashed the bridle to urge them on to every rage and cruelty. This is what is said by St. Luke, “This is the reign of darkness.”Be that as it may, when He said “I am He”His enemies had to be confounded. What will it be, then, when He comes in His majesty with all His Angels? When He comes to make all those who have resisted Him His footstool? When He comes with a dreadful face and an incomprehensible wrath? As Saint Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 1:8. Then how can wicked despisers of the majesty of God and of the word of our Lord Jesus Christ exist before His face? When He had thus thrown down His enemies, then He was ready to suffer and He did not use any defense. I say, even that of God His Father. As He said, He could ask that a million Angels might be sent to Him. But He abstained. Yet He surely wished to show that by His voice alone He could cast down everyone who was against Him, if He had wished.
By that we are taught to fear the word of our Lord Jesus. Although He does not converse here in a visible manner in our midst, yet since the Gospel is preached by His authority and He says, “He who hears you, hears Me;”let us learn to receive what is preached to us in His name with all reverence and to subject ourselves to it. We shall find that this word, which so caused to fall the guards and those who came against Him, will be our only foundation and prop. For how can we rejoice, except when the Son of God appear to us, and we see that He is near us, and He show us Who He is, and why He has been sent to us by God His Father? So then, it is in this word “I am He” that we may know, when it will please our Lord Jesus to manifest Himself as He does to all His believers, that in this word He declares to us why He calls us to Himself, why He has descended to us, and why He dwells in us by the power of His Holy Spirit, and that is wherein consists all our good and all our rest. But if we wish to be peevish and scorn the Word of God like many profane people, let us be assured that it will be a thunderbolt to cast us down into the depth of hell. So let us fear, and yet may our Lord Jesus open to us the door, and may He say to us in another fashion “Here am I,”as He has not done to those who were already His declared enemies. Let us learn to come to Him.
Besides, let us also learn so to bear in patience the betrayals which we see today in the Church no matter how outrageous they may be to us, so that we shall show that we really cling to the Son of God, for He is our Head. Then may we have His truth. May we so converse with one another that we may be united in true concord and brotherhood together. That is what we have to remember.
But whatever else may be, may we accept the principal article of instruction which we must remember from this passage: namely, that the Son of God made Himself obedient in everything and by everything in order to make reparation for our rebellions. It is true (as I have said) that all the members of His body ought to be ruled by His example. There is good reason, since He Who has entire mastery and superiority is so humbled, that we be ready to obey our God unto life and unto death. Yet let us recognize that the obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ in this place is special, that is, because of the fruit and the effect which proceeded from it. The Apostles have well chosen the death of Jesus Christ for an example. For they were strengthened for their needs when they had to fight for the witness of the Gospel. They were not then asleep. We see the vigilance which was in them and that they were ready to follow their calling. They even had fear neither of torments nor of the death which was presented to them when God called them for the glory of His Name, and the confession of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet they insisted principally on showing that by the pouring out of the blood of our Redeemer we are washed and cleansed of all our spots, that He made payment to God His Father for all our debts by which we were obliged, that He acquired for us perfect righteousness.
Let us recognize, then, the difference between the Head and the members. Let us learn that though by nature we are entirely given to evil, and although God may have regenerated us in part, still our flesh does not cease to chafe against God. However, by virtue of the obedience which we see in our Lord Jesus Christ, we do not cease to be acceptable to our God. If we do not yet do the good that we will, but the evil oftentimes pushes us, and there may be many failures, or perhaps we may be too slow to do good, let us look at what the Son of God suffered in order to make reparation for all our faults. Let us notice how He fought in such a way that there was no contradiction in Him when our crimes and sins were imputed to Him, as was explained more at length this morning. Let us see, then, how our Lord Jesus has made satisfaction in everything and for everything, but we today, although having taken the trouble to obey God, are not able to succeed, but we always droop our wings, must constantly repeat this: that we know that we shall not cease to be acceptable to God and that our imperfections will always be abolished by the obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that they will not come into account before God. Besides, may each one according to the measure of his faith and of the grace which he has received exert himself to fight until we come to the heavenly rest. Seeing our weaknesses are still so great, being convinced that we shall not even know how to have a single good thought, and that having stumbled we shall not be able to raise ourselves, unless God extended to us His hand and strengthened us each minute, may we be advised to pray that He may augment in us the graces of His Holy Spirit; as He has promised it to us, and offers to us Jesus Christ for our Head and Captain, in order that after we are able to arrive at the victory which He acquired for us, of which we already experience the fruit, we shall experience it in perfection.
Now we shall bow in humble reverence before the majesty of our God.