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The Jews were accustomed to rend their clothes, as a token of grief. This was done often as a matter of form, and consisted in fearing a particular part of the garment reserved for this purpose. But it was not lawsul for the high priest to rend his clothes, Lev. x. 6; xxi. 10. It was done on this occasion to denote great grief on the part of the high priest, that such a sin as blasphemy had been committed in his presence. 'He hath spoken blasphemy.' That is, he has, under oath, arrogated to himself what belongs to God. In claiming to be the Messiah; in asserting that he was the Son of God, and therefore equal in dignity with the Father; and that he would yet sit at his right hand; he has claimed what belongs to no man, and what is therefore an invasion of the Divine prerogative. If he had not been the Messiah, the charge would have been true. This point, the only proper point of inquiry, they never examined. Every thing like a pretension to his being the Messiah was, in their view, proof that he deserved to die.
66 What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.
What think ye?' What is your opinion ? What sentence de you pronounce? As president of the sanhedrim he demanded their judgment. 'He is guilty of death. This was the form which was used when a criminal was condemned to die. The meaning is, he is found guilty of a crime to which the law annexes death. The law under which they condemned him was that recorded in Lev. xxiv. 10–16, which condemned him that was guilty of blasphemy to death by stoning. The chief priests, however, were unwilling to excite a popular tumult by stoning him, and they therefore consulted to deliver him to the Romans to be crucified, under the authority of the Roman name, and thus to prevent any excitement aniong the people.
67 Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands,
"They spit in his face.' This, among the Jews, and other eastern nations, was significant of the highest contenipt and insult, Numb. xii. 14. Isa. 1. 6. Job xxx. 10. . And buffeted him. That is, they struck him with their hands. Others smote him with the palms of their hands. The word used means to strike the mouth with the open hand, as if to prevent a person's speaking, or to evince abhorrence of what he had spoken.
68 Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, who is he that smote thee ?
Saying, Prophesy unto us,' &c. Mark informs us that before they said this they had blindfolded him. Having prevented his seeing, they ridiculed his pretensions of being the Messiah. If he was the Christ, they required him to tell who emote him. The word prophesy not only means to foretell future events, but also to declare any thing that is unknown, or any thing which cannot be known without revelation ; it was here spoken in mockery.
69 I Now Peter sat without in the palace : and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.
Mark says, the first denial took place whi'e Peter was beneath in the palace. This palace was the large hall or court belonging to the residence of the high priest. The part of it where Jesus and the council were, was probably elevated above the rest, for a tribunal. Peter was beneath, or in the lower parts of the hall, with the servants, at the fire. Yet, as Matthew says he sat without in the palace--that is, out of the place where they were trying Jesus--in the lower part of the hall with the servants—both narratives are consistent. ' And a damsel came unto him. John, xviii. 17, says that this damsel was one that kept the door. “Thou wast also with Jesus of Galilee.? Probably she suspected him from his being in company with John. This was in the early part of the trial of Jesus, perhaps not long after midnight.
70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.
He denied that he was a disciple; he denied that he knew Jesus ; he denied (Mark) that he understood what was meantthat is, he did not see any reason why this question was asked. All this was palpable falsehood; and Peter must have known that it was such.
71 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. 72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.
* The porch. The entrance, or the small apartment between the outer door and the large hall in the centre of the building. Peter was embarrassed and confused by the question; and went away from the fire into the porch, where he expected to be unobserved. Yet in vain. By the very movement to avoid detection he came into contact with another who knew him, and repeated the charge. How clearly does it prove that our Lord was omniscient, that all these things were foreseen! “Another maid saw him. From Luke it would appear that a man spoke to him, Luke xxii. 58. Probably both saw him. When he firsi went out, a maid charged him with being a follower of jesus. To this charge he might have been silent-thinking, perhaps, that he was concea.ed. Yet it is very likely that the charge would be repeated. A man also might have repeated it ; and Peter, irritated,
provoked, then denied his Master the second time. This denial was in a stronger manner, and with an oath. While in the porch, Mark says,
the cock crew; that is, the first crowing, or not far from midnight.
73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them ; for thy speech bewrayeth thee.
Peter, by this time, had returned into the palace or hall, and stood warming himself by the fire, John xviii. 25. “Thy speech bewrayeth thee.' Your language makes it manifest that you are of his company. In Mark, Thou art a Galilean; and thy speech agreeth thereto.'. The Galileans were distinguished for peculiarity of pronunciation. This charge, John says, xviii. 27, was supported by the express aflirination of a kinsman of Malchus, the servant of the high priest, that he had seen him in the garden.
74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. Peter was now irritated beyond endurance.
He could no longer resist the evidence that he was known. It had been repeatedly charged on him. His language had betrayed him, and there was a positive witness who had seen him. He then added to the awful sin of denying his Lord, the deep aggravation of profane cursing and swearing. Immediately then the cock crew; that is, the second crowing, or not far from three in the morning.
75 And Peter remembered the words of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
Luke has mentioned a beautiful and touching circumstance omitted by the other evangelists, that when the cock crew, Jesus turned and looked upon Peter, and that then he remembered his words. They were in the same room— Jesus at the upper end of the hall, devoted for a tribunal, and Peter below with the servants; so that Jesus could look down upon Peter standing near the fire. By a single glance of his eye, the injured Saviour brought to remembrance all Peter's promises, his own predictions, and the great guilt of the disciple; he overwhelmed him with the remembrance of his awful sin, and pierced his heart through with many sorrows. The consciousness of deep and awful guilt rushed over Peter's soul; he flew from the palace, he went alone in the darkness of the night, and wept bitterly.
The fall of Peter is one of the most melancholy instances of depravitv ever committed in our world. Distinguished throughout ihe ministry of Christ with peculiar favours ; cautioned againsi
this very thing; yet so soon denying him, forgetting his promises, and profanely calling on God to witness what he knew to be false, that he did not know him! Had it been but once, it would have been awful guilt-guilt deeply piercing the Redeemer's soul in the day of trial; but it was three times repeated, and at last with profane cursing and swearing: Yet while we weep over Pe. ter's fall, and seek not to palliate his crime, we should draw from it important practical uses: 1. The danger of self-confidence. He that thinketh he standeth should take heed lest he fall. True christian confidence is that which relies on God for strength, and feels safety only in the belief that he is able and willing to keep from temptation. 2. When a man begins to sin, his fall from one act to another is easy-pernaps almost certain. At first Peter's sin was only simple denial ; then it increased to more violent affirmation, and ended with open profaneness. So the downward road of crime is easy. When sin is once indulged, the way is open for a whole deluge of crime; nor is the course easily stayed till the soul is overwhelmed in awful guilt. 3. True repentance is deep, thorough, bitter. Peter wept bitterly. It was sincere sorrow-sorrow proportioned to the nature of the awful offence he had committed. 4. When we sin--when we fall into temptation-let us retire from the world, seek the place of solitude, and pour out our sorrows before God. He will mark our groans; he will hear our sighs; he will pity his children ; and receive them, like weeping Peter, to his arms again. 5. Though a christian may be suffered to go astray—may fall into sin-yet he who should, from this example of Peter, think he may lawfully do the same; or who should resolve to do it, thinking that he might, like Peter, weep, and repent; would give evidence that he knew nothing of the grace of God. He that resolves to sin under the expectation of repenting hereafter, cannot be a christian.
It is worthy of further remark, that the fact that the fall of Peter is recorded by all the evangelists is high proof of their honesty, And it is worthy of special observation, that Mark has recorded this with all the circumstances of aggravation, perhaps even more so than the others. Yet, by the universal belief of antiquity, the gospel of Mark was written under Peter's direction, and every part of it submitted to him for examination. Higher proof of the honesty and candour of the evangelists could not he demanded.
CHAPTER XXVII. 1 WHEN the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.
Jesus is brought before Pilate. See also Mark xvi. I. Luke xxiii. 1. John xviii. 28. When the morning was come.
This was not long after Jesus had been condemned by the sanhedrim. Peter's last denial was probably near the break of day. As soon
as it was light they consulted together for the purpose of taking his life. The sun rose at that season of the year, in Judea, about five o'clock; and ine time when they assembled was not long after Peter's denial. "The chief priests—took counsel.' They had agreed that he deserved to die, on a charge of blasphemy. Yet they did not dare to put him to death by stoning, as they did afterwards Stephen, Acts vii. and as the law commanded in case of blasphemy, for they feared the people. They therefore consulted, or took counsel together, to determine on what pretence they could deliver him to the Roman governor. The charge which they fixed on as not that on which they had tried him, and on which they had determined he ought to die, ch. xxvi. 66, but that of perverting the nation, and of forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar, Luke xxiii. 2. On this accusation, if made out, they expected Pilate could be induced to condemn Jesus. On a charge of blasphemy they knew he could not, as that was not an offence against the Roman laws. To put him to death. To devise some way by which he might be put to death under the authority of the Roman governor.
2 And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
He was ' bound' when they took him in the garden, John xviii. 12. Probably when he was tried before the sanhedrim, in the palace of Caiaphas, he had been loosed from his bonds-being ihere surrounded by multitudes, and supposed to be safe. As they were about to lead him to another part of the city now, they again bound him. · Pontius Pilate, the governor.' The governor appointed by the Romans over Judea. The governor commonly resided at Cæsarea; but he came up to Jerusalem at the great feasts, when most of the Jews were assembled, to administer justice, and to suppress tumults if any should rise. Pilate was appointed governor of Judea by Tiberius, then emperor of Rome.
3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
This shows that Judas did not suppose that the affair would have resulted in this calamitous manner. He probably expected that Jesus would have worked a miracle to deliver himself, When he saw him taken, bound, tried, and condemned; when he saw that all probability that he would deliver himself was taken away; he was overwhelmed with disappointment, sorrow, and awful remorse of conscience, The word rendered repented himself,' evidently means no other change than that produced by the horrors of a guilty conscience, and by deep remorse for crime