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

And while every one wondered at all things which He did, He said unto His disciples, Lay ye these words to your ears: For the Son of man is about to be delivered up into the hands of men. But they knew not this saying, and it was hid from them that they should not understand it: and they feared to ask Him of this saying.

PROFOUND in very deed is the mystery of godliness, according to the expression of the wise Paul: but God the Father reveals it to such as are worthy of receiving it. For the Saviour Himself also, when speaking to the Jews, said, “Murmur not among yourselves: no man can come unto Me, unless the Father Who sent Me draw him.” When then the blessed Peter had been counted worthy of a grace thus glorious and wonderful, being in the neighbourhood of Cæsarea Philippi, he made a correct and faultless confession of faith in him, saying, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And what was the reward of which he was thought worthy? It was to hear Christ say, “Blessed art thou, Simeon, son of Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but My Father in heaven.” And he further received surpassing honours: for he was entrusted by Him with the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and the confession of his faith was made the firm foundation for the Church. “For thou,” He says, “art a stone: and upon this stone I will build My Church: and the gates of hell shall not overpower it.”

That those therefore who were to teach the whole world might know exactly His mystery, He usefully and necessarily explains it clearly to them beforehand, saying, “Lay ye these words to your hearts; for the Son of man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” The reason then which led Christ so to speak is, I think, a subject both useful and necessary for our consideration. He had then led up into the mountain Peter, and James, and John, and been transfigured before them, and His countenance shone as the sun: and He shewed them the glory, with which in due time He will arise upon the world. For He will come, not in humiliation such as ours; nor in the meanness of man’s estate, but in the majesty and splendour of the Godhead, and in transcendent glory. And again, when He came down from the mountain, He delivered a man from a wicked and violent spirit. Yet was He certainly about to bear for our sakes His saving passion; and endure the wickedness of the Jews; and, as the minister of His mysteries says, “by the grace of God to taste death for every man.” But when this came to pass, there is nothing unlikely in supposing that the disciples would be troubled; and in their secret thoughts perhaps even say, How is One so glorious; Who raised the dead by His godlike power; Who rebuked the seas and the winds; Who by a word crushed Satan; how is He now seized as a prisoner, and caught in the snares of these murderers? Were we then mistaken in thinking that He is God? Have we fallen from the true opinion regarding Him? For that those who knew not the mystery, that our Lord Jesus Christ would endure the cross and death, would find therein an occasion of stumbling, is easy to perceive, even from what the blessed Peter said to Him. For though he had not as yet been witness of His passion, but only had heard beforehand that it would befal Him, he interrupted Him, saying, “That be far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee.”

In order, therefore, that they might know what certainly would happen, He bade them, so to speak, store up the mystery in their mind. “For lay ye it,” He says, “to your hearts.” In which words, the “ye” distinguishes them from all others. For He wished indeed that they should themselves know what would happen, but not that they should communicate it to others. For it was not right for the unlearned to be taught simply His future passion, but far better, to convince them at the same time of His having risen divinely from the grave, and abolished death, and so avoid the danger of their being offended. When therefore the time comes, He says, that I must suffer, ask not, How it is that One so glorious, Who performed all these signs, has fallen like one of us unawares into the hands of His enemies: but, on the contrary, be assured, when reflecting upon the dispensation, that I am not led by human compulsion, but go willingly thereunto. For what is there to hinder one Who knows beforehand and clearly proclaims what is to happen, to refuse to suffer, if He so will? But I submit to suffer, in order that I may redeem all beneath the heavens. For this He plainly teaches us elsewhere, saying, “No man taketh My life from Me, but I lay it down of My own will. I have power to lay it down: and I have power to take it again.”

“But they, it says, knew not this saying; and it was hid from them, that they might not perceive it.” Now naturally any one may justly wonder, when meditating with himself, how it was that the disciples knew not the mystery of Christ. For though they belonged to the companies of the Jews, yet they were neither slothful nor contemptuous, but on the contrary most earnest and diligent. For though reckoned as handicraftsmen, whose trade was fishing in the lake, yet, as I said, they had been soberly educated, and were far from ignorant of the Mosaic Scriptures: for for this very reason Christ had chosen them. How then were they ignorant of the mystery of Christ, when it had been shadowed forth for them in various places by the law, and beautifully foreshewn in its types as in a painting? For, to shew my meaning by an example, they were not able to flee away from the bondage of Egypt, nor escape from the hand that oppressed them, until they had sacrificed a lamb according to the law of Moses; and when they had eaten its flesh, they anointed the lintels with its blood; and so put the destroyer to shame. But it was not the mere sacrifice of a sheep that made them superior to death and the destroyer. Types travail with the truth: and this act of theirs was, as I said, a foreshewing, by means of what was done in shadows, of the saving efficacy of the death of Christ, and of the abolition of destruction by His blood: Who also further drives away our cruel tyrant, Satan, and delivers from the mastery of impure spirits those whom they had enslaved, and who, like the Israelites made to serve in bricklaying, had become the victims of earthly cares, and polluted fleshly lusts, and the unprofitable distractions of this world.

The mystery of the passion may be seen also in another instance. For according to the Mosaic law two goats were offered, differing in nothing from one another, but alike in size and appearance. Of these, one was called “the lord:” and the other, the “sent-away.” And when the lot had been cast for that which was called “lord,” it was sacrificed: while the other was sent away from the sacrifice: and therefore had the name of the “sent-away.” And Who was signified by this? The Word, though He was God, was in our likeness, and took the form of us sinners, as far as the nature of the flesh was concerned. The goat, then, male or female, was sacrificed for sins. But the death was our desert, inasmuch as by sin we had fallen under the divine curse. But when the Saviour of all Himself, so to speak, undertook the charge, He transferred to Himself what was our due, and laid down His life, that we might be sent away from death and destruction.

The mystery, therefore, was revealed to the Jews, by what was shadowed in the law, had they only been acquainted with the sacred Scriptures. But, as the blessed Paul wrote, “Blindness in part hath happened unto Israel;” and “even to this day, when Moses is read, the veil is laid upon their heart: nor is it unveiled, because in Christ it is done away.” They then boast indeed of the law, but its purpose is entirely hidden from them; for it leads us to the mystery of Christ. But that they were without understanding our Saviour shews, saying; “Search the Scriptures: for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they it is that testify of Me. And ye desire not to come unto Me, that ye may have life.” For the divinely-inspired Scriptures conduct him who has understanding to an accurate knowledge of the doctrines of the truth: but they do not at all benefit the unwise, the ignorant, and the careless. Not because they cannot do so, but because the infirmity of their mind renders them incapable of receiving the light which the Scriptures give. For just as the light of the solar radiance is useless to those deprived of sight; not as though it cannot shine, but because their eyes are incapable of admitting and receiving it; so the holy Scriptures, though inspired by God, profit nothing the unlearned and foolish.

Our duty, therefore, is to draw near unto God, and say; “Open mine eyes: and I shall perceive the wondrous things of Thy law.” So He will reveal Christ to us: 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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