18.No man taketh it from me. This is another consolation, by which the disciples may take courage as to the death of Christ, that he does not die by constraint, but offers himself willingly for the salvation of his flock. Not only does he affirm that men have no power to put him to death, except so far as he permits them, but he declares that he is free from every violence of necessity. It is otherwise with us, for we are laid under a necessity of dying on account of our sins. True, Christ himself was born a mortal man; but this was a voluntary submission, and not a bondage laid upon him by another. Christ intended, therefore, to fortify his disciples, that, when they saw him shortly afterwards dragged to death, they might not be dismayed, as if he had been oppressed by enemies, but might acknowledge that it was done by the wonderful Providence of God, that he should die for the redemption of his flock. And this doctrine is of perpetual advantage, that the death of Christ is an expiation for our sins, because it was a voluntary sacrifice, according to the saying of Paul,
By the obedience of one many were made righteous,
But I lay it down of myself. These words may be explained in two ways; either that Christ divests himself of life, but still remains what he was, just as a person would lay aside a garment from his body, or, that he dies by his own choice.
This commandment have I received from my Father. He recalls our attention to the eternal purpose of the Father, in order to inform us that He had such care about our salvation, that he dedicated to us his only-begotten Son great and excellent as he is; (296) and Christ himself, who came into the world to be in all respects obedient to the Father, confirms the statement, that he has no other object in view than to promote our benefit.