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some arrangement with regard to the High-priesthood now unknown to us." None but a genuine historian however would have mentioned this. Caiaphas, as the Evangelist again is careful to remind us,2 had already suggested a salve to the public conscience touching the judicial murder of Jesus. He had prejudged the case. He had long since made up his mind that, whether innocent or guilty, Jesus must be put to death. Before this judge the Victim is next brought,3-Himself the Judge of all the earth,-to be not judged, but condemned.
PETER DENIES HIM.
St. John xviii. 15-18.
And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter. Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one of this man's disciples? He saith, I am not. And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.
The betrayal by Judas, though more dreadful, is almost less startling than the denial by Peter. We are less prepared for the cowardice of the one than for the treachery of the other. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." At the general desertion in the garden, and dis
deputy to the high priest, appears to
1 Friedlieb, quoted in Alford.
2 St. John xi. 47-53.
3 St. Matt. xxvi. 57; St. Luke xxii. 51.
persion of the Disciples, two of them, Peter and John (for he doubtless is intended here and elsewhere by this phrase "that other Disciple "), timid yet true, after that first flight are found to follow afar off. The one, by virtue of his acquaintance with the High-priest and his household, is permitted to pass in unchallenged. The other, having no such right of entrance, remains waiting outside the gate, to see the end. The one finding that his companion has not entered with him, and knowing that he will be equally interested in the proceedings, presently goes to the porteress (whose office, in the greater simplicity of Jewish manners, was often discharged by women) and, being known to her, procures the admission of the other. This door-keeper seems to have been not ill-disposed. She must have been aware of John's connection with Jesus. When therefore at his request Peter also was admitted, what more natural than the question which she asked in passing? But what more sad than the Apostle's answer; first perhaps in the surprise and timidity of the moment, but afterwards (so prolific a thing is sin) persisted in; repeated, and repeated again; till thrice he denies his Lord ?2 Here then we leave the unhappy Apostle awhile, within the court or quadrangle of the building where the High-priest dwelt; mingled with the crowd. of servants and attendants waiting there to see the end;3 warming himself with them in that chill night air, over the brazier of burning charcoal, which at that season it was customary to provide. For he was wet with the dews of Olivet, and his heart too at this time was cold within him. "Where now are those words which he said, 'Why cannot I follow Thee now?' and, 'I will lay down my life for Thy sake?' To deny himself to be a Disciple, is this to follow the Master? To quail at the challenge of a maid-servant, is it thus he lays down his life for his Lord? Surely in this fall of Peter we may see that Christ is not only denied by him who denies Him to be the Christ, but by him also who,
1 St. John xx. 2, 3, 4, 8. Compare xiii. 23; xix. 26, 27; xxi. 7, 20, 23, 24.
"One temptation unresisted seldom fails of being succeeded by an
other. A second and greater infidelity is the punishment of the first, and very often the occasion of a third."— Quesnel.
3 St. Matt. xxvi. 58.
whether in word or deed, will not confess himself to be a Christian." Christ may be denied in other ways than by word of mouth.2 When the sworn soldier and servant of Christ does what Christ forbids, neglects what Christ commands, then even more than Peter does he deny his Lord.
CHRIST BEFORE ANNAS.
St. John xviii. 19–23.
The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said. And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?
The former of these two points of interrogation the Lord He takes no notice of the question, throwing passes over. over His fearful followers the shield of silence. But to the latter He rejoins that there is no need of this questioning and examination, for He had nothing secret or clandestine to confess. From the Synagogues of Galilee, from the Temple at Jerusalem,3 they might summon witnesses as to His daily words. It was not with Him,' He professes, as with some teachers, who say one thing in public, and in private another. He was not double-tongued. This questioning was super
Aug. in S. Jo. Tr. cxiii. 2.
2 Tit. i. 16.
3 Alford notes that by the omission of the article before the word synagogue, distinction is made between
synagogues, of which there were many, and the Temple, which was but one.
In the original of v. 20 we have the pronoun twice emphatically expressed.
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.
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.