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A Commentary Upon The Gospel According To Saint Luke -St. Cyril

And He took the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all those things shall be accomplished which are written in the prophets of the Son of man. For He shall be delivered up to the heathen, and shall be mocked, and shamefully entreated, and spit upon. And when they have scourged Him, they shall put Him to death: and on the third day He shall rise again. And they understood none of these things, and this word was hid from them, and they knew not what was said.

THE blessed prophet David has spoken one of those things which are of great importance for our benefit, especially as it refers to what is of constant occurrence, so to speak, to men’s minds. “For I was prepared, he says, and was not troubled.” For whatever happens unexpectedly, whenever it is of a serious character, exposes even courageous persons to agitation and alarm, and sometimes to unendurable terrors. But when it has been mentioned before that it will happen, its attack is easily averted. And this, I think, is the meaning of, “I was prepared, and was not troubled.”

For this reason the divinely-inspired Scripture very fitly says unto those who would attain unto glory by leading a course of holy conduct, “My son, if thou drawest near to serve the Lord, prepare thyself for temptation. Direct thy heart, and endure.” For it does not so speak in order to produce in men an abject slothfulness which will win no reward, but that they may know that by practising patience and endurance, they will overcome the temptations which befal all who would live virtuously, and prove superior to every thing that could harass them. And so here also the Saviour of all, to prepare beforehand the disciples’ minds, tells them that He shall suffer the passion upon the cross, and death in the flesh, as soon as He has gone up to Jerusalem. And he added too, that He should also rise, wiping out the pain, and obliterating the shame of the passion by the greatness of the miracle. For glorious was it, and worthy of God, to be able to sever the bonds of death, and hasten back unto life. For testimony is borne Him by the resurrection from the dead, according to the expression of the wise Paul, that He is God and the Son of God.

It is necessary, however, for us to explain what the benefit was which the holy apostles received from having learnt the approach of those things which were about to happen. By this means then He cuts away beforehand both unseemly thoughts and all occasion for stumbling. How, you ask, or in what way? The blessed disciples then, I answer, had followed Christ, our common Saviour, in His circuit through Judæa: they had seen that there was nothing, however ineffable, and worthy of all wonder, which He could not accomplish. For He called from their graves the dead when they had already decayed: to the blind He restored sight: and wrought also other works, worthy of God and glorious. They had heard Him say, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them doth not fall to the ground without your Father.” And now they who had seen these things, and been emboldened by His words unto courageousness, were about to behold Him enduring the ridicule of the Jews, crucified, and made a mock of, and receiving even buffets from the servants. It was possible therefore, that being offended because of these things, they might think thus within themselves, and say: He Who is so great in might, and possesses such godlike authority; Who performs miracles by His nod alone; Whose word is almighty, so that even from their very graves He raises the dead; Who says too that His Father’s providence reaches even to the birds; Who is the Only-begotten, and first-born: how did He not know what was about to happen? Is He too taken in the nets of the foe, and made the prey of His enemies, Who even promised that He would save us? Is He then disregarded and despised of that Father, without Whose will not even a tiny bird is taken? These things perchance the holy apostles might have said or thought among themselves. And what would have been the consequence? They too, like the rest of the Jewish multitude, would have become unbelieving, and ignorant of the truth.

That they might therefore be aware both that He foreknew His passion, and though it was in his power easily to escape, that yet of His own will He advanced to meet it, He told them beforehand what would happen. In saying then, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem,” He, so to speak, testified urgently and commanded them to remember what had been foretold. And He added necessarily, that all these things had been foretold by the holy prophets. For Isaiah, as in the person of Christ, says; “I have given My back to scourgings, and My cheeks to buffetings: and My face I have not turned away from the shame of spittings.” Aud again, in another place, He says of Him, “As a sheep He was led unto the slaughter, and was silent, as a lamb before its shearer.” And again, “All we like sheep have gone astray: every one hath gone astray in his path: and the Lord hath delivered Him up because of our sins.” And again the blessed David also in the twenty-first Psalm, painting as it were beforehand the sufferings upon the cross, has set before us Jesus speaking as one that lo! already was hanging upon the tree, “But I am a worm, and not a man: the reproach of men, and a thing rejected of the people. All those that have seen Me, have derided Me: they have spoken with their lips, and shaken their heads; He trusted in the Lord: let Him deliver Him.” For some of the Jews did shake their wicked heads at Him, deriding Him, and saying, “If Thou art the Son of God, come down now from the cross, and we will believe Thee.” And again He said, “They parted My garments among them, and upon My vesture they cast the lot.” And again in another place He says of those that crucified Him, “They gave gall for My food, and for My thirst they made Me drink vinegar.”

Of all therefore that was about to befal Him, nothing was unforetold, God having so ordered it by His Providence for our use, that when the time came for it to happen, no one might be offended. For it was in the power of one Who knew beforehand what was about to happen, to refuse to suffer altogether. No man then compelled Him by force, nor again were the multitudes of the Jews stronger than His might: but He submitted to suffer, because He knew that His passion would be for the salvation of the whole world. For He endured indeed the death of the flesh, but rose again, having trampled upon corruption, and by His resurrection from the dead, He planted in the bodies of mankind the life that springs from Him. For the whole nature of man in Him hastened back to incorruption. And of this the wise Paul bears witness, saying, at one time, “For since by man was death, by man was also the resurrection of the dead.” And again, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all live.” Let not those therefore who crucified Him indulge in pride: for He remained not among the dead, seeing that as God He possesses an irresistible might: but rather let them lament for themselves, as being guilty of the crime of murdering the Lord. This the Saviour also is found saying to the women who were weeping for Him, “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.” For it was not right that they should lament for Him, Who was about to arise from the dead, destroying thereby corruption, and shaking death’s dominion; but more fitly, on the contrary, would they lament over their own afflictions.

The Saviour of all then declared these things beforehand to the holy apostles: “but they, it says, understood not what was said, and the word was hid from them.” For as yet they knew not accurately what had been before proclaimed by the holy prophets. For even He Who was first among the disciples heard the Saviour once say that He should be crucified, and die, and arise: but in that he did not as yet understand the depth of the mystery, he resisted it, saying, “That be far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee.” But he was rebuked for so speaking: because he as yet knew not the purport of the Scripture inspired of God relating thereunto. But when Christ arose from the dead, He opened their eyes, as another of the holy Evangelists wrote; for they were enlightened, being enriched with the abundant participation of the Spirit. For they who once understood not the words of the prophets, exhorted those who believed in Christ to study their words, saying, “We too have a more sure prophetic word, whereunto ye do well to look, as unto a lamp that shineth in a dark place, until the day shine forth, and the light-star arise in your hearts.” And this has also reached its fulfilment: for we have been enlightened in Christ; by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen.








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