Passion Sunday The Gospel John. 6.v.1 Sunday Meditation
GOSPEL (John 8:46-59)
At that time, Jesus said to the crowds of the Jews, "Which of you shall convince me of sin? If I say the truth to you, why do you not believe me: He that is of God heareth the words of God. Therefore you hear them not, because you are not of God." The Jews therefore answered and said to him: "Do not we say well that thou art a Samaritan and hast a devil?" Jesus answered: "I have not a devil: but I honour my Father. And you have dishonoured me. But I seek not my own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Amen, amen, I say to you: If any man keep my word, he shall not see death for ever." The Jews therefore said: "Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets: and thou sayest: If any man keep my word, he shall not taste death for ever. Art thou greater than our father Abraham who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Whom dost thou make thyself?" Jesus answered: "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father that glorifieth me, of whom you say that he is your God. And you have not known him: but I know him. And if I shall say that I know him not, I shall be like to you, a liar. But I do know him and do keep his word. Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see my day: he saw it and was glad." The Jews therefore said to him: "Thou art not yet fifty years old. And hast thou seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them:"Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham was made, I AM." They took up stones therefore to cast at him. But Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
Though this Sunday be some ten or twelve days before the day of the passion of Christ,which is upon good Friday: yet the Church doeth aptly call it Passion Sunday, and keep it accordingly, to signify that the fury of the Jews towards Christ was so great, a good while before they put him to death (because he came to abolish their old law,and institute a new) that they would have made him away diverse times, tumultuously, without trial of judgment before his time was come, if he had not hid and kept himself away from them: as for example,one time they would have cast him down headlong from the top of a high mountain, but that he vanished away,out of their sight; And here, after they had reviled and blasphemed him, saying he was a Samaritan, that is, a Schismatic from them, and had a devil within him, who was a liar, in that he said Abraham knew him, who was dead more then a thousand years before he was born, and the like; After all this, I say, they took up stones to cast, at him and stone him to death, as they did St.Stephen; but that he went from them invisibly by his divine power,and hide himself away.and therefore the Church doeth aptly represent this unto us, this Sunday, calling it passion Sunday, though it be before his passion; because if the Jews might have had their wills, they had put Christ to death, before they did; as also, that we should have time to prepare ourselves with more devotion unto the day of the passion of Christ, before it came.
And to represent unto us the more lively, (besides hearing the gospel) how Christ declined from the malice of the Jews, by hiding himself away from them. We use to veil or hide the crucifix or picture of Christ crucified, which useth to stand upon the Altar, and instead thereof, we set up a red cross, to signify the bloody minds of the Jews to put Christ to death, and also as a banner or Standard of the victory which Christ got by his death, in token whereof the Church singeth the Trophy of the sacred Hymn Vexilla regis prodeunt, & c. The victorious banner or Standard of the King, is displayed or brought forth.
And more over because our sins, & the sins of the world past, present, and to come were the cause of the death and passion of Christ, not as the Jews put him to do but as it was necessary that one man should die (as Caiaphas Prophesied) for the sins of the world; and that Christ must, and would willingly be that man: Therefore to signify that we deserved rather that God should turn his face from us till we had done due penance for it, we hide and draw veils over all the pictures of Christ or the Saints at the Altar or the Church, from passion Sunday till Easter day: during which time the Church likewise in her Service useth divers mournful Sentences and verses of holy Scripture, alluding to the death & passion of Christ, to express our sorrow for our sins.
A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634