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

And the men who held Him mocked and smote Him: and when they had blindfolded Him, they asked Him, saying, Prophesy, who is he that smote thee? And many other things blasphemously spake they against Him. And when it was day, the council of the elders of the people, composed of the chief priests and scribes, came together, and they led Him into their assembly: and they said, If Thou be the Christ, tell us. And He said unto them, If I tell yon, ye will not believe: and if I also ask you, ye will not return Me an answer. But hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God. Then they all said, Art Thou therefore the Son of God? And He said unto them, Ye say that I am. And they said, What further need have we of witness? For we ourselves have heard of His mouth.

HERE too let the prophet Jeremiah say of the race of Israel, “Who will grant for my head to be waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I may weep for this people day and night?” For what lamentation can suffice for those who fell into the pit of destruction because of their wicked conduct unto Christ, and for guilt so great, that not with words only did they grieve Him, and mock Him with blasphemous cries, but even laid sinful hands upon Him, and made ready for Him the snare of death? And so contumeliously did they treat him, wickedly making Him their sport, as even to venture to smite Him: for so we have this day heard the holy evangelist say, “For the men who held Him mocked and smote Him, saying, Prophesy, who is he that smote Thee?” “But He, when He was reviled, reviled not again: and when He suffered, He threatened not, but committed His cause to Him that judgeth righteously.” Well therefore might we utter that which was said of certain men by one of the holy prophets, “The heavens were astonished thereat, and shuddered very greatly, saith the Lord.” For the Lord of earth and heaven, the Creator and Artificer of all, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Who is of such surpassing greatness in glory and majesty, the foundation of everything, and that in which it exists and abides—“for all things exist in Him” Who is the breath of all the holy spirits in heaven, is scorned like one of us, and patiently endures buffetings, and submits to the ridicule of the wicked, offering Himself to us as a perfect pattern of longsuffering, or rather manifesting the incomparable greatness of His godlike gentleness.

Or perhaps even He thus endures to rebuke the infirmity of our minds, and shew that the things of men fall as far below the divine excellencies as our nature is inferior to His. For we who are of earth, mere corruption and ashes, attack at once those who would molest us, having a heart full of fierceness like savage beasts. But He, Who in nature and glory transcends the limits of our understanding and our powers of speech, patiently endured those officers when they not merely mocked, but even smote Him. “For when they had blindfolded Him, it says, and afterwards smitten Him, they asked Him, Prophesy, who is he that smote Thee?” They ridicule, as if He were some ignorant person, Him Who is the Giver of all knowledge, and Who even sees what is hidden within us: for He has somewhere said by one of the holy prophets, “Who is this that hideth from Me counsel, and shutteth up words in his heart, and thinketh that from Me he hideth them?” He therefore Who trieth hearts and reins, and Who is the Giver of all prophecy, how could He not know who it was that smote Him? But as Christ Himself said, “Darkness hath blinded their eyes, and their minds are blinded.” Of them too therefore may one say, “Woe to them that are drunken, but not with wine!” “For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and their tendril of Gomorrah.”

But when at the dawn of day their wicked assembly was gathered together, He Who is the Lord of Moses, and the Sender of the prophets, after having been thus lawlessly mocked, was brought into the midst; and they asked if He were the Christ? O senseless Pharisee, if thou askest because thou knowest not, surely until thou hadst learnt the truth thou oughtest in no wise to have grieved Him, lest haply thou shouldest grieve God: but if thou makest pretence of ignorance, while really thou knowest well that He is the Christ, thou must hear what the sacred Scripture saith, “God is not deceived.”

But tell me, why dost thou question Him, and wish to learn of Himself, whether He be the Christ? For it is easy enough to obtain the knowledge of Him from the law and the prophets. Search the writings of Moses: thou wilt see Him depicted there in manifold ways. For He was sacrificed as a lamb: He vanquished the destroyer by His blood: and was prefigured also in many other forms. Examine too the writings of the prophets; thou wilt hear them proclaiming His divine and wonderful miracles. “For then, they say, shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the dumb shall hear: then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be plain.” And again, “The dead shall arise, and those who are in the graves shall awake: for the dew from Thee is healing to them.” Since therefore even ye yourselves see the perfect clearness of the accomplishment of the prophecies respecting Him, why do ye not rather acknowledge Him on the evidence of His divine miracles, and of His ineffable works? And this too Christ Himself said unto you; “The works which My Father gave Me to do, those works bear witness of Me that He sent Me.” And again, “If I had not done among them the works which no other man did, they had not had sin: but now they have both seen and hated both Me and My Father.” The rulers therefore of the Jews, together with the people under their charge, were in very truth unbelieving, and thoroughly without understanding.

I think, however, that we ought to examine the words used by Christ: for they were a reproof of the want of love to God of which the Scribes and Pharisees were guilty. When therefore they ask whether He is in truth the Christ, and would learn this very thing, He says, “If I tell you, ye will not believe; and if I ask, ye will not return an answer.” Come therefore, and let me explain to you, as to men glad to be taught, what the occasion was on which they heard, and would not believe; and that on which they were silent when questioned. When Christ then went up to Jerusalem, He found in the temple people selling sheep and oxen and doves, and moneychangers sitting: and having made, it says, a kind of scourge of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, saying, “Take these things hence: and make not My Father’s house a house of merchandize.” Because therefore He called God His Father, those who were sacrificing in the temple murmured and attacked Him, saying, “By what authority doest Thou these things? And who gave Thee this authority?” And to this Christ replied, “I will also ask you a word, which if you tell Me, I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it, from heaven, or of men? And they, it says, reasoned with themselves, saying, If we say, From heaven, He will say unto us, Why did ye not believe him? But if we say, Of men, we fear the multitude: for all held John as a prophet. And they answered and said, We do not know. And Christ said thereto, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

And on another occasion He asked them, saying, “What say ye of Christ? Whose Son is He? And they said, David’s. And afterwards the Lord said unto them, How therefore does David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I place Thy enemies as a footstool under Thy feet. If therefore David call Him Lord, how is He his Son?” And to this again they were silent. Thou seest that Christ speaks truly when He says, “And if I ask you, ye will not return Me an answer.”

Thou shalt see too that the other declaration is equally true: and what is this? “If I tell you, ye will not believe.” For the blessed John the Evangelist writes, that “it was the feast of the dedication at Jerusalem, and it was winter: and Jesus was walking in the temple in Solomon’s porch. The Jews therefore came round about Him, and said unto Him, How long wilt Thou lift up our soul? If Thou art the Christ, tell us plainly. And Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye will not believe: the works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me; but ye will not believe.”

And to make their condemnation more severe, in respect, I mean, of their refusing to believe on Him, He further clearly sets before them His glory, saying, “But hereafter the Son of man shall sit on the right hand of the power of God.” When, He says, I was in form like unto you, though by nature and in truth the Son of God the Father, ye made no account of Me. And yet how was it not right that the excellent art of the dispensation in the flesh should not escape your notice, inasmuch as ye are learned in the law, and nurtured in the writings of Moses, nor are the predictions of the holy prophets unknown to you. But since ye have brought yourselves to so great want of knowledge, and being filled with utter ignorance, recognise not the mystery concerning Me, I tell you of necessity that there is granted you but a short and narrow season for your pride and wickedness against Me, even until My precious cross. For immediately after this I clothe Myself in honour: I ascend to the glory which I had from the beginning: I am made even in the flesh the partner of God the Father on His throne, and possess sovereignty over all, even though I have taken upon Me your likeness. When Christ was thus speaking, the troop of Pharisees was inflamed with uncontrollable wrath: they catch at the expression as a pretext for blasphemy, and accuse the truth itself: they say, that “no longer need we any testimony,” as being themselves the hearers of His words. And what then had they heard Him say? O vile and senseless men, ye wanted to learn whether He were the Christ: He taught you therefore that by nature and in truth He is the Son of God the Father, and with Him shares the throne of Deity. Therefore, as ye confessed, henceforth ye have no need of testimony, for ye have heard Him speak: hence might ye best have learnt that He is the Christ: and this would have proved for thee the pathway unto faith, hadst thou only been one of those who would know the truth. But they, making even the pathway of salvation an occasion for their souls’ ruin, understand not: senselessly they slay Him, keeping but one aim in view in contempt of all law, and utter disregard of the divine commands: for it is written, “The holy and the just thou shalt not kill.” But they, as I said, paid no regard whatsoever to the sacred commands, but rushed down, as it were, some steep descent, to fall into the snares of destruction.

Such then was their conduct: but we offer our praises to God the Word, Who for our salvation became man; 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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