Matthew 26:56 MEANING

Matthew 26:56
(56) But all this was done.--Better, but all this has come to pass. The words, though they agree in form with those of Mark 1:22, are, as we see from Mark 14:49, not a comment of the Evangelist's, but our Lord's own witness to the disciples and the multitude, that the treachery and violence of which He was the victim were all working out a divine purpose, and (as in Matthew 26:54) fulfilling the Scriptures in which that purpose had been shadowed forth.

Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.--We read with a sorrowful surprise of this cowardly abandonment. Better things, we think, might have been expected of those who had professed their readiness to go with Him to prison and to death. Yet we may remember (1) the weariness and exhaustion which had overcome them, making the resolve and courage, to say the least, more difficult; and (2) that they had been told not to resist, and that flight might seem to them the only alternative to resistance. We have to fill up St. Matthew's record with the strange episode of the "young man with a linen cloth cast about his naked body" of Mark 14:51, where see Note.

Verse 56. - All this was done (hath come to pass), etc. This is most probably part of Christ's speech, not a remark of the evangelist. He repeats to the multitude what he had said to Peter (ver. 54, where see note), and what he had already intimated at the last Supper (vers. 24, 31). To quote the words of Stier, "Again and again he de. clares that one thing which, nevertheless, Christian theology perpetually refuses to learn from the supreme Teacher and Doctor. He holds firmly to the Scripture, whether speaking to the exasperated Jews or the docile disciples; he puts those to shame in their folly by proofs from Scripture, and strengthens these in their despondency by its consolatory promises. He appeals to Scripture in his vehement disputation with men, as he does in his solemn way of suffering to die for them; he confronts Satan with 'It is written,' and prays to the Father - that the Scripture may be fulfilled." If Christ had been taken prematurely in the temple, and put to death by a tumultuary stoning, prophecy would not have been fulfilled, and his death would not have been the appointed sacrifice of the Lamb of God. Forsook him, and fled. As he had foretold (ver. 31). They saw their Master bound and helpless; they recognized that he would not deliver himself by heavenly aid, and, fearing to share his fate, they looked to their own safety and basely abandoned him in his hour of danger. Now occurred the incident mentioned only by St. Mark (Mark 14:51), which is explained rightly by Edersheim (2:485, 544). Only Peter and John followed the officers to the high priest's palace.

26:47-56 No enemies are so much to be abhorred as those professed disciples that betray Christ with a kiss. God has no need of our services, much less of our sins, to bring about his purposes. Though Christ was crucified through weakness, it was voluntary weakness; he submitted to death. If he had not been willing to suffer, they could not conquer him. It was a great sin for those who had left all to follow Jesus; now to leave him for they knew not what. What folly, for fear of death to flee from Him, whom they knew and acknowledged to be the Fountain of life!But all this was done, that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled,.... Some have thought these to be the words of the evangelist, making this remark upon what was said and done; but by what both Mark and Luke record, Mark 14:49, they appear to be the words of Christ himself; who observes this, partly to make himself, as man, easy under the treatment he met with; and partly, to fortify the minds of his disciples against offence at it; and also to throw conviction, or confusion, into the minds of his enemies. The Scriptures of the prophets he refers to, as having, or about to have, by this conduct, their accomplishment, were such, as regarded the betraying him by Judas, the taking him in this secret, private, insidious, yet violent manner; in all which he showed great meekness, calmness, and submission, as Psalm 41:9. As also what respected the scattering, and hasty flight of his disciples from him, Zechariah 13:7, which in the next clause is shown to be accomplished,

Then all the disciples forsook him and fled; not only went away from him, and left him alone, as he foretold they would, John 16:32, but they ran away from him in a precipitant manner, like timorous sheep, the shepherd being about to be smitten; and they fearing, lest Peter's rash action should be imputed to them all, and they suffer for it; or lest they should be laid hold on next, and bound, as their master was, or about to be. Every thing in this account is an aggravation of their pusillanimity, and ingratitude; as that they were the "disciples" of Christ that forsook him, whom he had called, and sent forth as his apostles to preach his Gospel; and to whom he had given extraordinary gifts and powers; who had forsaken all and followed him, and had been with him from the beginning; had heard all his excellent discourses, and had seen all his miracles, and yet these at last forsake him, and even "all" of them: John the beloved disciple, that leaned on his bosom, and Peter, that professed so much love to him, zeal for him, and faith in him; the three that had just seen him in his agony and bloody sweat, and everyone of them left him; not one stood by him, and this too, after they had had a fresh instance of his power, in striking the men to the ground, that came to take him; and when he was sueing for them with their enemies, to let them go peaceably and safely: so that they had no need to have fled in such haste; and to leave him "then", in the midst of his enemies, in his great distress and trouble, was very unkind and ungrateful: and to this account of the evangelist, pretty much agrees what the Jews themselves say of it; for they report (p), that "when his disciples saw that he was taken, and that they could not fight against them, , "they ran away on foot", and lift up their voice and wept greatly.

Though they also pretend, that the citizens of Jerusalem killed many of them, and that the rest "fled" to the mountain, which is false,

(p) Toldos Jesu, p. 16, 17.

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