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Master actually taken; alarmed with the terrific appearance of armed men, and forgetting their promises not to forsake him, they all left their Saviour to go alone. Alas! how many, when attachment to Christ would lead them to danger, leave him, and also flee! See note on Mark xiv. 50, 51.
57 | And they that laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high-priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.
The trial of our Lord before the council, and the denial of Peter happening at the same time, might be related one before the other according to the evangelists' pleasure. Accordingly, Matthew and Mark relate the trial first, and Peter's denial afterwards; Luke mentions the denial first, and John has probably observed the natural order. The parallel places are Mark xiv. 53–72. Luke xxii. 54–71. and John xviii
. 13—27. ' To Caiaphas.' John says, that they led him first to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas. This was done, probably, as a mark of respect, he having been high priest, and, perhaps, being distinguished for prudence, and capable of advising his son-in-law in a difficult case; and he was detained there probably until the chief priests and elders were assembled.. The high priest.' Note, Matt. xxvi. 3. John says, he was high priest for that year. Annas had been high priest some years before. In the time of our Saviour the office was frequently changed by the civil ruler. Note, John xi. 49, 50. “The scribes and elders. The men composing the great council of the nation or sanhedrim. Note, Matt. v. 22. It is not probable that they could be immediately assembled, and some part of the transaction respecting the denial of Peter probably took place while they were collecting.
58 But Peter followed him afar off, unto the high priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants to see the end.
Peter followed afar off. By this he evinced real attachment to his Master; a desire to be near him, with fear respecting his personal safety. He therefore kept so far off as to be out of danger, and yet so near as that he might witness the transactions respecting his Master. Many, in this, imitate Peter. They are afraid to follow the Saviour closely. They fear danger, ridicule, or persecution. Religion requires us to be near to Christ. We may measure our piety by our desire to be with him, and to be like him; and by our willingness to follow him, through trials, contempt, persecution, and death. Unto the high priest's palace.' The word means rather the hall, or middle court or area of his house. It was situated in the centre of the palace, and was commonly uncovered. See note, Matt. ix, 1-8. ^ Sat with the servants to see the
end.' That is, the end of the trial : or to see how it would go witii his Master. The other evangelists say that he stood with the servants warming himself. John says, it being cold, they had made a fire of coals, and warmed themselves. it was then probably not far from midnight. The place where they were was uncovered; and travellers say, that though the days are warm in Judea, at that season of the year, yet the nights are often uncomfortably cold. This fire was made in the hall; not in a fireplace as we commonly suppose, but on the pavement. At this place and time was Peter's first denial of his Lord, as is recorded afterwards. See ver. 69.
59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;
False witness.' Witnesses that would accuse him of crime; of violations of the laws of the land or of God. They were indifferent, probably, whether they were true or false, if they could succeed in condemning him.
60 But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,
' Found none. Mark says, xiv. 56, that 'their witness agreed not together. They differed about facts, times, and circumstances, as all false witnesses do. Two witnesses were required by their law, and they did not dare to condemn him without conforming, in appearance at least, to the requirements of the law.
61 And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.
And said, this fellow said,' &c. According to Mark, they said, ' 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. He adds, ' but neither so did their witness agree together.' That which they attempted to accuse him of, is what he had said respecting his body, and their destroying it, John ii.19.
Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. This he spoke of his body; they perverted it, endeavouring to show that he meant the temple at Jerusalem. They neither stated it as it was, nor did they state correctly its meaning; nor did they agree about the words used. It was, therefore, little to their purpose.
62 And the high-priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing ? what is it which these wit-, ness against thee? 63 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 held his peace.' Was silent. He knew that the eviaence did not even appear to amount to any thing worth a reply. See Isa. liji. 7. 'I adjure thee by the living God. I put thee upon thy oath before God. This was the usual form of putting an oath among the Jews. It implies calling God to witness the truth of what was said. The law respecting witnesses also made it a violation of an oath to conceal any part of the truth. They had utterly failed in their proof. They had no way left to accomplish their purpose of condemning him, but to draw it from his own lips. This cunning question was therefore proposed. The difficulty consisted in this: If he confessed that he was the Son of God, they stood ready to condemn him for blasphemy. If he denied it, they were prepared to condemn him for being an impostor, for deluding the people under the pretence of being the Messiah. • The living God. Jehovah is called the living God,' in opposition to idols, which were without life. The Christ.' The Messiah, the Anointed. Note, Matt. i. 1.. “The Son of God.' The Jews uniformly expected that the Messiah would be the Son of God. In their view it denoted also that he would be divine, or equal to the Father, John x. 31–36. To claim that title was therefore, in their view, blasphemy; and as they had deterinined beforehand, in their own minds, that he was not the Messiah, they were ready at once to accuse him of blasphemy:
64 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.
“Thou hast said.' This is a form of assenting, or affirming. Thou hast said the truth; or, as Luke xxii. 70, has it, ‘Ye say that I am.' 'Nevertheless. This word should have been translated 'moreover,' or furthermore. What follows is designed to explain and give confirmation to what he had said. You shall see proofs of this hereafter. Sitting on the right hand of power.' That is, of God, here called the Power, equivalent to the Mighty, or the Almighty. It denotes dignity and majesty, as to sit at the right hand of a prince, was the chief place of honour. See note, Matt. xx. 21. Coming in the clouds of heaven.' See note, Matt. xxiv. xxv. The meaning of this is, You shall see the sign from heaven which you have so often demanded, even the Messiah, himself as the sign, returning with great glory, to destroy your city, and to judge the world.
65 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.
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 maring a particular part of the garment reserved for this purpose. But it was not lawful 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 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 among 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 contempt 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 sceing, they ridiculed his pretensions of being the Messiah. If he
was the Christ, they required him io tell who gmote 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 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 while 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 first 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 concealed. Yet it is very likely that the charge would be repeated. A man also might have repeated it ; and Peter, irritated,