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fluous. It was a mockery. If they really wished for information, they had but to ask any one of these around,' whom He seems to point to, or by some gesture to indicate. One of the attendants here basely gives Him a blow; either with the palm of his hand, or with a rod,' the staff of office. Gently the Lord of all expostulates. He who could have forthwith summoned "more than twelve legions of angels," calmly puts up with the cruel and brutal affront; contenting Himself with quietly pointing out the anomaly and injustice of the act. Punished first, and heard afterwards! What a travesty of justice is here! If what He said was false or wrong, it should have been legally disproved or punished; but if it was right and true and unanswerable, what reason could there be for smiting Him? It was but a confession of the weakness of their cause; might overcoming right. Our Lord's conduct here supplies the best commentary on those words of His elsewhere, "Whosoever shall smite thee on the one cheek, turn to him the other also."3 They are not, it is evident, to be taken literally. However they condemn blow for blow and personal revenge, they do not preclude calm and dignified remonstrance. Annas, the recognised Highpriest of the Jews, proceeds to send the blessed Prisoner bound to Caiaphas, the High-priest appointed of the Romans. They are careful to comply with at least the outward form of law, while they violate the whole spirit of the law. They will take every legal precaution, in their double mockery, that so in any way, and by all means, they may be secure of their victim.
1 See the original word. 2 So in the margin.
3 Augustine (de Ser. Domini in Monte, i. 36) remarks that He was ready to give, not only His other cheek to the smiter, but even His whole body to be crucified, for our sakes.
A careful consideration of the whole passage leads to the conclusion
that St. John is recording the examination before Annas only. The only objection to this view is, that the judge is spoken of throughout as the high-priest. This term, however, we find afterwards actually applied to Annas. Acts iv. 6.
5 The time in the original is not pluperfect, as in the E. V.; neither is there any now.
CHRIST BEFORE CAIAPHAS.
St. Matthew xxvi. 59-61.
Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; but found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, and said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.
The condemnation of Jesus was a foregone conclusion. But the Sanhedrim, or Supreme Court among the Jews, though disregarding justice itself, desired to make some show of it. They were ever occupied with the outside of things. These Judges of Israel actually sought for false witness. That they found none was not because none was forthcoming. For many false witnesses offered themselves, ready to swear anything. But their witness agreed not together." The Law required at least the testimony of two;3 but no consistent testimony could be obtained. At last they managed to find two sons of Belial, venal creatures, ready as in the case of Naboth (whose condemnation on a double charge of blasphemy foreshadowed this) to swear a man's life away. That saying of our Saviour three years before 5 they thus misreported; as afterwards, on the Cross, they cast the same in His teeth. He, speaking of the Temple of His Body, had predicted that they would destroy it, but that in three days He would raise it up. They affirm, "We heard Him say, I will destroy this Temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands." But not even so, as they were probably introduced separately, did their witness agree together.
1 St. Matt. xxiii. 23-26.
2 St. Mark xiv. 56.
3 Deut. xix. 15.
41 Ki. xxi. 10, 13.
5 Recorded only by St. John (ii.
18-22) yet thus referred to by two of the Synoptists.
6 St. Matt. xxvii. 40.
7 St. Mark xiv. 58.
8 St. Mark xiv. 59.
They contradicted one another in some essential particulars. Yet was it considered enough for their purpose who were determined on His doom.
THE SAME SUBJECT- continued.
St. Matthew xxvi. 62–68.
And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?
To the first challenge of the High-priest, now rising excitedly in the midst,' and professing to regard His silence as an admission of guilt, Jesus answers nothing. "As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth." He did as the evangelic prophet foretold He would. But to the second solemn adjuration,-when He was put on His oath, and challenged to declare if He indeed claimed to be the Son of the Blessed,3-He solemnly declares, (assuming the mysterious name, I am," as thou hast said.
1 St. Mark xiv. 60.
2 Is. liii. 7.
3 St. Mark xiv. 61; Rom. i. 25; 2 Cor. xi. 31.
And if Jesus were a mere man, if He is not the Son of God, He would indeed have been guilty of the blasphemy with which they charged Him. How can modern deniers of His Divinity get over His own words? And He adds, referring to Daniel's prophecy,' that they should yet see Him, whom they regarded as a mere man, fulfilling that prophecy, and sitting on the right hand of God; His Assessor in the judgment. And "now the High-priest, in rending his garments, acted a real and deep tragedy for himself; for he thus declared that the . . . Jewish priesthood was rent, and already no more." " The rabble now suppose that they have license to do as they list. And the Judge, who should have restrained them from insulting even the guilty, encourages them in their cruelty towards the innocent. Little they knew, while giving vent to their own passions, that they were even so fulfilling a prophecy.3 They spat upon Him, a sign of their contempt; and proceeded to positive cruelty, striking Him with their fists and with their wands of office; and having blindfolded and beaten Him, they bid Him in derision to name the offender, and so give proof of the supernatural knowledge He claimed. "And many other things blasphemously spake they against Him." 5
PETER DENIES AGAIN.
St. Mark xiv. 66-72.
And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: and when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew. And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them
1 Dan. vii. 13. 2 I. Williams.
Sa. xv. 27, 28,
3 Is. 1. 6. 4 St. Luke xxii. 64. 5 St. Luke xxii. 65.
And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilæan, and thy speech agreeth thereto. But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak. And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.
Peter we left1 warming himself over the charcoal-fire in the court-yard of the High-priest's palace, with the attendants and loiterers gathered there. Presently these idlers 2 regard him, discover him to be not one of themselves, and, halfcarelessly, half-seriously, so it would seem, they charge him with being a follower of Jesus the Nazarene. It appears to have been one of the maid-servants who began the banter; the same probably who had admitted him through the gate,* who now recognized him.5 And Peter for the second time denies all knowledge of his Lord." He even affects to be ignorant of what they are talking about." Then, finding himself in danger, he withdraws to the porch; where the first signal is heard of the Saviour's warning.' Here he is encountered by another maid-servant, who points him out to the by-standers as having been with the accused. The first maid too seems to have encountered him again, and also to have pointed him out to the rest as one of them. A man also of the crowd appears to have recognized him at this time. And Peter reiterates his denial, corroborating it with that refuge of the guilty, an oath. Thus, so far from recanting, he confirms this second error.10 therefore, as before," he escapes further molestation. At
1 St. John xviii. 18.
2 St. John xviii. 25. He puts them all together whose several questions elicited the second denial.
St. Mark xiv. 67.
4 St. John xviii. 16, 17.
St. Luke xxii. 56.
6 St. Luke xxii. 57.
St. Mark xiv. 68.
For the present
9 St. Luke xxii. 58.
10 All these circumstances are grouped around, and together constitute the second denial. St. John xviii. 25. Bengel says, "The denial at one time, in one paroxysm, to several interrogations of several persons, is reckoned as one."
11 St. John xviii. 17.