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After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death.
The events of this section appear to have occurred on the fourth day of the Redeemer's Last Week-the Wednesday.
After two days was the feast of the Passover, and of unleavened bread. The meaning is, that two days after what is about to be mentioned the Passover would arrive; in other words, what follows occurred two days before the feast.
And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death.
From Matthew's fuller account (Matthew 26:1-75) we learn that our Lord announced this to the Twelve as follows, being the first announcement to them of the precise time: "And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings" - referring to the contents of Matthew 24:1-51 and Matthew 25:1-46, which He delivered to His disciples; His public ministry being now closed: from His prophetic office He is now passing into His priestly office, although all along Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses - "He said unto His disciples, Ye know that after two days is [the feast of] the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified." The first and the last steps of his final sufferings are brought together in this brief announcement of all that was to take place. The Passover [ to (G3588) pascha (G3957) = hapecach (H6453)] was the first and the chief of the three great annual festivals, commemorative of the redemption of God's people from Egypt, through the sprinkling of the blood of a lamb divinely appointed to be slain for that end; the destroying angel, "when he saw the blood, passing over" the Israelite houses, on which that blood was seen, when he came to destroy all the first-born in the land of Egypt (Exodus 12:1-51) - bright typical foreshadowing of the great Sacrifice, and the Redemption effected thereby.
Accordingly, "by the determinate counsel and, foreknowledge of God, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working," it was so ordered that precisely at the Passover-season, "Christ our Passover should be sacrificed for us." On the day following the Passover commenced "the feast of unleavened bread" [ ta (G3588) azuma (G106)], so called because for seven days only unleavened bread was to be eaten (Exodus 12:18-20). See the notes at 1 Corinthians 5:6-8. We are further told by Matthew (Matthew 26:3) that the consultation was held in the palace of Caiaphas the high priest, between the chief priests, [the scribes], and the elders of the people, how "they might take Jesus by subtlety and kill Him." [The words kai (G2532) hoi (G3588) grammateis (G1122) are probably not genuine here. Tischendorf and Tregelles exclude them. It is likely they were introduced from Matthew and Luke.]
But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people.
Lest there be an uproar of the people. In consequence of the vast influx of strangers, embracing all the male population of the land who had reached a certain age, there were within the walls of Jerusalem at this festival some two millions of people; and in their excited state, the danger of tumult and bloodshed among "the people," who for the most part took Jesus for a prophet, was extreme. (See Josephus Ant. 20: 5. 3.) What plan, if any, these ecclesiastics fixed upon for seizing our Lord, does not appear. But the proposal of Judas being at once and eagerly gone into, it is probable they were until then at some loss for a plan sufficiently quiet and yet effectual. So, just at the feast time shall it be done; the unexpected offer of Judas relieving them of their fears. Thus, as Bengel remarks, did the divine counsel take effect.
The time of this part of the narrative, as we shall presently see, is four days before what has just been related. Had it been part of the regular train of events which our Evangelist designed to record, he would probably have inserted it in its proper place, before the conspiracy of the Jewish authorities. But having come to the treason of Judas, he seems to have gone back upon this scene as what probably gave immediate occasion to the awful deed. The best introduction to it we have in the Fourth Gospel.
John 12:1-2. - "Then Jesus, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany" (see the note at Luke 19:29) - that is, on the sixth day before it; probably after sunset on Friday evening, or the commencement of the Jewish Sabbath that preceded the Passover: "where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom He raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper" - in what house is not here stated; but the first two Evangelists expressly tell us it was "in the house of Simon the leper" (Matthew 26:6; Mark 14:3). But for this statement, we should have taken it for granted that the scene occurred in the house of Lazarus. At the same time, as Martha served (John 12:2), he was probably some near relative of her family. Who this "Simon the leper" was, is quite unknown. A leper at that time, while entertaining guests at his own table, he could not have been, as this would have been contrary to the Jewish law.
But he had been one, perhaps long one, and so came to be best known by his old name, "Simon the leper." And just as Matthew, long after he was transformed into "an apostle of Jesus Christ," continued to call himself what none of the other Evangelists do, "Matthew the publican;" so, perhaps, this healed leper, after the Saviour had cleansed him, and won his heart-healing soul and body together-felt it pleasant to be known ever after as "Simon the leper:" and just as Matthew, again, "made Him a great feast in his own house," this Simon, out of the fullness of a grateful heart, made Him this supper. And what if he was that very leper whose case is the first recorded in the Gospel History, who, immediately after the Sermon on the Mount," as Jesus descended from the hill on which it was delivered, came running and kneeling to Him, saying, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean," and whose leprosy immediately departed from him, when the Lord said, "I will; be thou clean"! (See the notes at Matthew 8:1-4.) The time when this supper was made to Jesus was affecting.
As it was His last visit to His quiet and loved retreat at Bethany, so He honoured it by making it His longest. He made it His nightly home during His final week; going thence daily into the city, but never sleeping there. And, says the beloved disciple, "Martha served." Active, busy, but true-hearted, Martha is here at her proper vocation-serving her Lord. A blessed employment. She got a gentle check once when so engaged, though not for so doing. But there is no rebuke here; nay, it seems recorded here as her privilege that she served. Service to Christ there must be; somebody must do it; and Martha on this occasion was the honoured servant; "but Lazarus," says John, "was one of them that sat at the table with him" - a trophy of his Master's resurrection-power and glory. So much for John's introduction to the scene. Let us now return to our own narrative.
And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.
And being in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman. It was "Mary," as we learn from John 12:3.
Having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard, [ nardou (G3487)] - pure nard, a celebrated aromatic. (See Song of Solomon 1:12)
Very precious - "very costly" (John 12:3),
And she brake the box, and poured it on his head - "and anointed," adds John, "the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment." The only use of this was to refresh and exhilarate-a grateful compliment in the East, amidst the closeness of a heated atmosphere, with many guests at a feast. Such was the form in which Mary's love to Christ, at so much cost to herself, poured itself out.
And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made?
And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said. Matthew says (Matthew 26:8), "But when His disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying." The spokesman, however, was none of the true-hearted Eleven-as we learn from John (John 12:4): "Then saith one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray Him." Doubtless the thought stirred first in his breast, and issued from his base lips; and some of the rest, ignorant of his true character and feelings, and carried away by his plausible speech, might for the moment feel some chagrin at the apparent waste.
Why was this waste of the ointment made?
For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence (between nine and ten pounds sterling), and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. "This he said," remarks John, and the remark is of exceeding importance, "not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag" [ to (G3588) gloossokomon (G1101)] - the scrip or treasure-chest; "and bare what was put therein" [ ebastazen (G941)] - not 'bare it off' by theft, as some understand it. It is true that he did this; but the expression means simply that he had charge of it and its contents, or was treasurer to Jesus and the Twelve. What a remarkable arrangement was this, by which an avaricious and dishonest person was not only taken into the number of the Twelve, but entrusted with the custody of their little property! The purposes which this served are obvious enough; but it is further noticeable, that the remotest hint was never given to the Eleven of his true character, nor did the disciples most favoured with the intimacy of Jesus ever suspect him, until a few minutes before he voluntarily separated himself from their company-forever!
And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.
And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. It was good in itself, and so was acceptable to Christ; it was eminently seasonable and so more acceptable still; and it was "what she could," and so most acceptable of all.
For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.
For ye have the poor with you always (referring to Deuteronomy 15:11 ), and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always - a gentle hint of His approaching departure, by One who knew the worth of His own presence.
She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.
She hath done what she could - a noble testimony, embodying a principle of immense importance.
She is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying or as in John (John 12:7) "Against the day of She is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying - or, as in John (John 12:7), "Against the day of my burying hath she kept this." Not that she, dear heart, thought of His burial, much less reserved any of her nard to anoint her dead Lord. But as the time was so near at hand when that office would have to be performed, and she was not to have that privilege even after the spices were brought for the purpose (Mark 16:1), He lovingly regards it as done now.
Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.
Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her. 'In the act of love done to Him,' says Olshausen beautifully, 'she has erected to herself an eternal monument, as lasting as the Gospel, the eternal Word of God. From generation to generation this remarkable prophecy of the Lord has been fulfilled; and even we, in explaining this saying of the Redeemer, of necessity contribute to its accomplishment.' 'Who but Himself,' asks Stier, 'had the power to ensure to any work of man, even if resounding in His own time through the whole earth, an imperishable remembrance in the stream of history? Behold once more here the majesty of His royal judicial supremacy in the government of the world, in this "Verily I say unto you."
And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them.
And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them - that is, to make his proposals, and to bargain with them, as appears from Matthew's fuller statement (Mark 26 ), which says, he "went unto the chief priests, and said, What will ye give me, and I will deliver Him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver" (Mark 14:15). The thirty pieces of silver were thirty shekels, the fine paid for man or maid-servant accidentally killed (Exodus 21:32), and equal to between four and five pounds sterling - "a goodly price that I was prized at of them"! (Zechariah 11:13).
And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him.
And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. Matthew alone records the precise sum, because a remarkable and complicated prophecy, which he was afterward to refer to, was fulfilled by it.
And he sought how he might conveniently betray him-or, as mere fully given in Luke (Luke 22:6), "And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray Him unto them in the absence of the multitude." That he should avoid an "uproar" or 'riot' among the people, which probably was made an essential condition by the Jewish authorities, was thus assented to by the traitor; into whom, says Luke (Luke 22:3), "Satan entered," to put him upon this hellish deed.
(1) Among the 'undesigned coincidences' in the narratives of the Four Evangelists which so strongly confirm their truth, not the least striking are the representations given of the respective characters of Martha and Mary by the Third and Fourth Evangelists. While in Luke we have a scene omitted by John, in which the active services of Martha and the placid affection, the passive docility, of Mary come strikingly out (see the notes at Luke 10:38-42), we have in John (John 12:1, etc.) a very different scene, omitted by Luke, in which, nevertheless, the same characteristics appear. Martha serves, while Mary diffuses over her Lord the odour of her love, in the costly ointment which she spent upon Him. What are these but different rays from one bright historic Reality?
(2) In this feast, beheld in its inner character, may we not see on a small scale something like what is from age to age realized in the kingdom of grace? Here is the Redeemer surrounded by the varied trophies of His grace. First, we have Simon the leper-the healed man; next, Lazarus-the risen man; and here is the man that leaned on Jesus' breast, nearest to his Lord-type of seraphic affection; and that other "son of thunder," James, the brother of John, who was honoured to drink of his Lord's cup, and be baptized with the baptism which He was baptized withal-the man of impulsive but robust devotion to Christ; and here was blessed Simon Bar-jona-the man of commanding energy-first among the Twelve; and all the diversified types of Christian character, as exemplified in the rest: But, lo! in the midst of these, and one of their number, was "a devil" - type of that traitorous spirit from which probably the Christian Church has hardly ever been quite free.
But woman also is here represented-redeemed womanhood; and in its two great types-active and passive, or doing and feeling. And yet there was doing in both, and feeling in both; although the hands were the characteristic in the one case, the heart in the other. And what would the Church and the world be without both? Active service laid the foundations of the infant Church, and has ever since diffused and preserved it; active service has rolled back the tide of corruption when it had settled over the Church, and restored its evangelical character; and the active services of woman have been in every age of quickened Christianity as precious as they have been beautiful. But it is the service of love which Christ values. Love to Christ transfigures the humblest services. All, indeed, who have themselves a heart value its least outgoings above the most costly mechanical performances; but how does it endear the Saviour to us to find Himself endorsing that principle, as His own standard in judging of character and deeds!
`What though in poor and humble guise Thou here didst sojourn cottage-born?
Yet from thy glory in the skies Our earthly gold thou dost not scorn. For Love delights to bring her best, And where Love is, that offering evermore is blest.
`Love on the Saviour's dying head Her spikenard drops unblam'd may pour, May mount His cross and wrap Him dead In spices from the golden shore,' etc. (-KEBLE)
(3) Works of utility are never to be set in opposition to the promptings of self-sacrificing love, and the sincerity of those who do so is to be suspected. What a number of starving families might those "three hundred pence" have cheered (would Judas exclaim, if time had been allowed him to enlarge upon this waste)! In like manner, under the mask of concern for the poor at home, how many excuse themselves from all care of the perishing pagan abroad! The bad source of such complaints and the insincerity of such excuses may reasonably be suspected.
(4) Amidst conflicting duties, that which our hand presently findeth to do is to be preferred to that which can be done at any time. "Ye have the poor always with you; but Me ye have not always."
(5) The Lord Jesus has an exalted consciousness of the worth of His own presence with His people, and will have them alive to it too. There is, indeed, a sense in which He is with them always, even to the world's end (Matthew 28:20). But there are special opportunities of which it may be said, "Me ye have not always;" and it is the part of wisdom to avail ourselves of these while we have them, even though it should interfere with duties, which, however important, are of such a nature that opportunities for doing them never cease.
(6) To those who are oppressed with the little they can do for Christ, what unspeakable consolation is there in that testimony borne to Mary, "She hath done what she could"! Not the poorest and humblest of Christ's loving followers but may, on this principle, rise as high in the esteem of Christ as the wealthiest and those who move in the widest spheres of Christian usefulness. "If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what a man hath, and not according to what he hath not" (2 Corinthians 8:12). On this delightful subject, see also the notes at Luke 21:1-4, with Remarks at the close of that section.
(7) As Jesus beheld in spirit the universal diffusion of His Gospel, while His lowest depth of humiliation was only approaching, so He regarded the facts of His earthly History as constituting the substance of "this Gospel," and the proclamation of them as just the "preaching of this Gospel." Not that preachers are to confine themselves to a bare narration of these facts, but that they are to make their whole preaching revolve around them as its grand center, and derive from them its proper vitality; all that goes before this in the Bible being but the preparation for them, and all that follows but the sequel.
(8) The crime of Judas is too apt to be viewed as something exceptional in character and atrocity. But the study of its different stages is fitted to dissipate that delusion. First, Covetousness being his master-passion, the Lord suffered it to reveal itself and gather strength, by entrusting him with "the bag" (John 12:6), as treasurer to Himself and the Twelve. Next, in the discharge of that most sacred trust, he began to pilfer, and became "a thief," appropriating the store from time to time to his own use. Then Satan, walking about seeking whom he might devour, and seeing this door standing wide open, determined to enter by it; but cautiously (2 Corinthians 2:11) - at first merely "putting it into his heart to betray him" (John 13:2), or whispering to him the thought that by this means he might enrich himself, and that possibly, when the danger became extreme, He who had performed so many miracles, might miraculously extricate Himself.
The next stage was the conversion of that thought into thee settled purpose to do it; to which we may well suppose he would be loath to come until something occurred to fix it. That something, we apprehend, was what took place at the house of Simon the leper; from which he probably withdrew with a chagrin which was perhaps all that was now wanted to decide him. Still starting back, however, or mercifully held back for some time, the determination to carry it into immediate effect was not consummated, it would appear, until, sitting at the Paschal supper, "Satan entered into him," John 13:27; and conscience now effectually stifled, only rose, after the deed, to drive him to despair. O, what warnings do these facts sound forth to everyone! Could the traitor but be permitted to send a messenger from "his own place" (Acts 1:25) to warn the living-as the rich man in the parable wished that Lazarus might be to his five brethren-with what a piercing cry would he utter these word, "They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" "Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith." "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (1 Timothy 6:9-10; 1 Peter 5:8-9; James 4:7.)
(9) How sublime is the self-possession with which Jesus, four days after this scene at Bethany, announced to the Twelve that in two days more He should be betrayed to be crucified! At that very moment, perhaps, the Jewish authorities were assembled in the palace of the high priest, consulting together how they might do it; and Judas, who had stolen away from the rest of the Twelve, and got admission to the Council, was just concluding his bargain, perhaps, when He to whose mind every step of the process lay open, disclosed to His true-hearted ones the near-approaching consummation. What a study have we here: on the one hand, of incomparable placidity in One of acutest sensibility; and on the other, of the harmonious working of man's perfectly free will, and the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God that what men freely resolve on and do shall come to pass for His own high ends! "For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to Whom be glory forever. Amen." (See the note at Romans 11:36.)
And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover?
For the exposition, see the notes at Luke 22:7-23; Luke 22:39; and at John 13:10-11; John 13:18-19; John 13:21-30.
And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.
For the exposition, see the notes at Luke 22:31-46.
And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray.
For the exposition, see the notes at Luke 22:39-46.
And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.
For the exposition, see the notes at John 18:1-12.
Had we only the first three Gospels, we should have concluded that our Lord was led immediately to Caiaphas, and had before the Council. But as the Sanhedrim could hardly have been brought together at the dead hour of night-by which time our Lord was in the hands of the officers sent to take Him-and as it was only "as soon as it was day" that the Council met (Luke 22:66), we should have had some difficulty in knowing what was done with Him during those intervening hours. In the fourth Gospel, however, all this is cleared up, and a very important addition to our information is made (John 18:13-14; John 18:19-24). Let us endeavour to trace the events in the true order of succession, and in the detail supplied by a comparison of all the four streams of text.
JESUS IS BROUGHT PRIVATELY BEFORE ANNAS, THE FATHER-IN-LAW OF CAIAPHAS ( = John 18:13-14)
Verse 13. "And they led Him away to Annas first; for he was father-in-law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year." This successful Annas, as Ellicott remarks, was appointed high priest by Quirinus
A.D. 12 AD, and after holding the office for several years, was deposed by Valerius Gratus, Pilate's predecessor in the procuratorship of Judea, (Josephus, Ant. 18: 2. 1, etc.) He appears, however, to have possessed vast influence, having obtained the high priesthood, not only for his son Eleazar, and his son-in-law Caiaphas, but subsequently for four other sons, under the last of whom James, the brother of our Lord, was put to death (Ib. 20: 9. 1). It is thus highly probable that, besides having the title of "high priest" merely as one who had filled the office, he to a great degree retained the powers he had formerly exercised, and came to be regarded practically as a kind of rightful high priest. John 18:14. "Now Caiaphas was he which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people." See the note at John 11:50. What passed between Annas and our Lord during this interval the beloved disciple reserves until he has related the beginning of Peter's fall. To this, then, as recorded by our own Evangelist, let us meanwhile listen.
And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes.
All the chief priests and the elders and the scribes. It was then a full and formal meeting of the Sanhedrim. Now, as the first three Evangelists place all Peter's denials of his Lord after this, we should naturally conclude that they took place while our Lord stood before the Sanhedrim. But besides that the natural impression is that the scene around the fire took place overnight, the second crowing of the cock, if we are to credit ancient writers, would occur about the beginning of the fourth watch, or between three and four in the morning. By that time, however, the Council had probably convened, being warned, perhaps, that they were to prepare for being called at any hour of the morning, should the Prisoner be successfully secured. If this is correct, it is pretty certain that only the last of Peter's three denials would take place while our Lord was under trial before the Sanhedrim. One thing more may require explanation. If our Lord had to be transferred from the residence of Annas to that of Caiaphas, one is apt to wonder that there is no mention of His being marched from the one to the other. But the building, in all likelihood, was one and the same; in which case He would merely have to be taken, perhaps across the court, from one chamber to another.
And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire.
The palace of the high priest, [ eis (G1519) teen (G3588) auleen (G833)]. 'An Oriental house,' says Robinson, 'is usually built around a quadrangular interior court; into which there is a passage (sometimes arched) through the front part of the house, closed next the street by a heavy folding gate, with a smaller wicket for single persons, kept by a porter. The interior court, often paved or flagged, and open to the sky, is the hall [ aulee (G833)], which our translators have rendered "palace," where the attendants made a fire; and the passage beneath the front of the house, from the street to this court, is the porch [ proaulion (G4259), Mark 14:68, or puloon (G4440), Matthew 26:71 ]. The place where Jesus stood before the high priest may have been an open room, or place of audience on the ground-floor, in the rear or on one side of the court; such rooms, open in front, being customary. It was close upon the court, because Jesus heard all that was going on around the fire, and turned and looked upon Peter (Luke 22:61).'
In the fourth Gospel we have an extremely graphic description of the way in which Peter obtained access within the court or hall of the high priest (John 18:15-16): "And Simon Peter followed Jesus." Natural though this was, and safe enough had he only "watched and prayed that he might not enter into temptation" as his Master bade him (Matthew 26:41) - it was in his case a fatal step. "And so did another (rather 'the other') disciple." This was the beloved disciple himself, no doubt. "That disciple was known unto the high priest (see the note at John 18:15), and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door without" - by a preconcerted arrangement with his friend, until he should procure access for him. "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." The naturalness of these small details is not unworthy of notice. This other disciple having first made good his own entrance, on the score of acquaintance with the High Priest, goes forth again, now as a privileged person, to make interest for Peter's admission. But thus our poor disciple is in the coils of the serpent.
And he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire. The graphic details, here omitted, are supplied in the other Gospels. John 18:18, "And the servants and officers stood there (that is, in the hall, within the quadrangle, open to the sky), who had made a fire of coals" [ anthrakian (G439)], or 'charcoal' (in a brazier probably), "for it was cold." John alone of all the Evangelists mentions the material, and the coldness of the night, as Webster and Wilkinson remark. The elevated situation of Jerusalem, observes Tholuck, renders it so cold about Easter, as to make a watch-fire at night indispensable. "And Peter stood with them and warmed himself." "He went in (says Matthew 26:58), and sat with the servants to see the end." These two-minute statements throw an interesting light on each other. His wishing to "see the end," or issue of these proceedings, was what led him into the palace, because he evidently feared the worst. But once in, the serpent-coil is drawn closer; it is a cold night, and why should not he take advantage of the fire as well as others? Besides, in the talk of the crowd about the all-engrossing topic, he may pick up something which he would like to hear. Poor Peter! But now, let us leave him warming himself at the fire, and listening to the hum of talk about this strange case by which the subordinate officials, passing to and fro and crowding around the fire in this open court, would while away the time; and, following what appears the order of the Evangelical Narrative, let us turn to Peter's Lord:
JESUS IS INTERROGATED BY ANNAS-HIS DIGNIFIED REPLY-IS TREATED WITH INDIGNITY BY ONE OF THE OFFICIALS-HIS MEEK REBUKE (John 18:19-23)
We have seen that it is only the Fourth Evangelist who tells us that our Lord was sent to Annas first, overnight, until the Sanhedrim could be gotten together at earliest dawn. We have now, in the same Gospel, the deeply instructive scene that passed during this non-official interview. John 18:19. "The high priest [Annas] then asked Jesus of His disciples and of His doctrine" - probably to entrap Him into some statements which might be used against Him at the trial. From our Lord's answer it would seem that "His disciples" were understood to be some secret party. John 18:20. "Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world" - compare Mark 7:4. He speaks of His public teaching as now a past thing-as now all over [ elaleesa (G2980)]. "I ever taught in the synagogue and in the temple, where the Jews always resort," courting publicity, though with sublime noiselessness, "and in secret have I said nothing" [ elaleesa (G2980) ouden (G3762)] - rather, 'spake I nothing;' that is, nothing different from what He taught in public; all His private communications with the Twelve being but explanations and developments of His public teaching. (Compare Isaiah 45:19; Isaiah 48:16). John 18:21. "Why askest thou Me? ask them which heard Me what I have said to them" [ elaleesa (G2980)] - rather, 'what I said unto them:' "behold, they know what I said." From this mode of replying, it is evident that our Lord saw the attempt to draw Him into self-incrimination, and resented it by falling back upon the right of every accused party to have some charge laid against Him by competent witnesses. John 18:22. "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?" (see Isaiah 50:6).
It would seem, from Acts 23:2, that this summary and undignified way of punishing what was deemed insolence in the accused had the sanction even of the high priests themselves. John 18:23. "Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil" [ elaleesa (G2980)] - rather, 'If I spoke evil,' in reply to the high priest, "bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou Me?" He does not say, 'if not evil,' as if His reply had been merely unobjectionable; but "if well," which seems to challenge something altogether fitting in the remonstrance He had addressed to the high priest. From our Lord's procedure here, by the way, it is evident enough that His own precept in the Sermon on the Mount-that when smitten on the one cheek we are to turn to the smiter the other also (Matthew 5:39) - is not to be taken to the letter. ANNAS SENDS JESUS TO CAIAPHAS (John 18:24)
In John 18:24 it is recorded: "[Now] Annas had sent Him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest." [The particle "Now" - oun (G3767) - though in the Elzevir, is not in the Stephanic form of the received text, and is rejected by most critics as wanting authority, and even by those who understand the verse as our translators did: the evidence for it is considerable; but it is rather stronger against it. Lachmann prints it in his text; Tregelles brackets it; but Tischendorf excludes it, and Alford follows him-concluding, as we think, rightly from the variations between oun (G3767) and de (G1161) in the manuscripts that it crept in as a connecting particle.] On the meaning of this verse there is much diversity of opinion; and according as we understand it will be the conclusion we come to, whether there was but one hearing of our Lord before Annas and Caiaphas together, or whether, according to the view we have given above, there were two hearings-a preliminary and informal one before Annas, and a formal and official one before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrim. If our translators have given the right sense of the verse, there was but one hearing before Caiaphas; and then this 24th verse is to be read as a parenthesis, merely supplementing what was said in John 18:13. This is the view of Calvin, Beza, Grotius, Bengel, DeWette, Meyer, Lucke, Tholuck. But there are decided objections to this view.
First, We cannot but think that the natural sense of the whole passage, embracing John 18:13-14; John 18:19-24, is that of a preliminary non-official hearing before "Annas first," the particulars of which are accordingly recorded; and then of a transference of our Lord from Annas to Caiaphas. Second, On the other view, it is not easy to see why the Evangelist should not have inserted John 18:24 immediately after John 18:13; or rather, how he could well have done otherwise. As it stands, it is not only quite out of its proper place, but comes in most perplexingly. Whereas, if we take it as a simple statement of fact, that after Annas had finished his interview with Jesus, as recorded in John 18:19-23, he transferred Him to Caiaphas to be formally tried, all is clear and natural. Third, The pluperfect sense "had sent" is in the translation only; the sense of the original word [ apesteilen (G649)] being simply 'sent.' And though there are cases where the aorist here used has the sense of an English pluperfect, this sense is not to be put upon it unless it be obvious and indisputable. Here that is so far from being the case, that the pluperfect 'had sent' is rather an unwarrantable interpretation than a simple translation of the word; reforming the reader that, according to the view of our translators, our Lord "had been" sent to Caiaphas before the interview just recorded by the Evangelist; whereas, if we translate the verse literally - "Annas sent Him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest" - we get just the information we expect, that Annas, having merely 'precognosced' the prisoner, hoping to draw something out of Him, "sent Him to Caiaphas" to be formally tried before the proper tribunal. This is the view of Chrysostom and Augustine among the Fathers; and of the moderns, of Olshausen, Schleiermacher, Neander, Ebrard, Wieseler, Lange, Luthardt. This brings us back to the text of our second Gospel, and in it to --
But let the reader observe, that though this is introduced by the Evangelist before any of the denials of Peter are recorded, we have given reasons for concluding that probably the first two denials took place while our Lord was with Annas, and the last only during the trial before the Sanhedrim.
And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death: Matthew (Matthew 26:59) says they "sought false witness." They knew they could find nothing valid; but having their Prisoner to bring before Pilate, they tried to make a case.
And found none - none that would suit their purpose, or make a decent ground of charge before Pilate.
For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together.
For many bare false witness against him. From their debasing themselves to "seek" them, we are led to infer that they were bribed to bear false witness; though there are never wanting sycophants enough, ready to sell themselves for nought, if they may but get a smile from these above them: see a similar scene in Acts 6:11-14. How is one reminded here of that complaint, "False witnesses did rise up: they laid to my charge things that I knew not!" (Psalms 35:11).
But their witness agreed not together. If even two of them had been agreed, it would have been greedily enough laid hold of, as all that the law insisted upon even in capital cases (Deuteronomy 17:6). But even in this they failed. One cannot but admire the providence which secured this result; since, on the one hand, it seems astonishing that those unscrupulous prosecutors and their ready tools should so bungle a business in which they felt their whole interests bound up, and, on the other hand, if they had succeeded in making even a plausible case, the effect on the progress of the Gospel might for a time have been injurious. But at the very time when His enemies were saying, "God hath forsaken Him; persecute and take Him; for there is none to deliver Him" (Psalms 71:11), He whose Witness He was and whose work He was doing was keeping Him as the apple of His eye, and while He was making the wrath of man to praise Him, was restraining the remainder of that wrath (Psalms 76:10).
And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying,
And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him. Matthew (Matthew 26:60) is more precise here: "At the last came two false witnesses." Since no two had before agreed in anything, they felt it necessary to secure a duplicate testimony to something, but they were long of succeeding. And what was it, when at length it was brought forward?
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.
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. On this charge, observe, first, that eager as His enemies were to find criminal matter against our Lord, they had to go back to the outset of His ministry, His first visit to Jerusalem, more than three years before this. In all that He said and did after that, though ever increasing in boldness, they could find nothing: Next, that even then, they fix only on one speech, of two or three words, which they dared to adduce against Him: Further, they most manifestly pervert the speech of our Lord. We say not this because in Mark's form of it, it differs from the report of the words given by the Fourth Evangelist (John 2:18-22) - the only one of the Evangelists who reports it at all, or mentions even any visit paid by our Lord to Jerusalem before his last-but because the one report bears truth, and the other falsehood, on its face.
When our Lord said on that occasion, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up," they might, for a moment, have understood Him to refer to the temple out of whose courts He had swept the buyers and sellers. But after they had expressed their astonishment at His words, in that sense of them, and reasoned upon the time it had taken to rear the temple as it then stood, since no answer to this appears to have been given by our Lord, it is hardly conceivable that they should continue in the persuasion that this was really His meaning. But finally, even if the more ignorant among them had done so, it is next to certain that the ecclesiastics, who were the prosecutors in this case, did not believe that this was His meaning. For, in less than three days after this, they went to Pilate, saying, "Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, after three days I will rise again" (Matthew 27:63). Now what utterance of Christ, known to his enemies, could this refer to, if not to this very saying about destroying and rearing up the temple? And if so, it puts it beyond a doubt that by this time, at least, they were perfectly aware that our Lord's words referred to His death by their hands and His resurrection by His own. But this is confirmed by the next verse.
But neither so did their witness agree together.
But neither so did their witness agree together - this is, not even as to so brief a speech, consisting of but a few words, was there such a concurrence in their mode of reporting it as to make out a decent case. In such a charge everything depended on the very terms alleged to have been used. For everyone must see that a very slight turn, either way, given to such words, would make them either something like indictable matter, or else a ridiculous ground for a criminal charge-would either give them a colourable pretext for the charge of impiety which they were bent on making out, or else make the whole saying appear, on the worst view that could be taken of it, as merely some mystical or empty boast.
And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?
And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? Clearly, they felt that their case had failed, and by this artful question the high priest hoped to get from his own mouth what they had in vain tried to obtain from their false and contradictory witnesses. But in this, too, they failed.
But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?
But he held his peace, and answered nothing. This must have nonplussed them. But they were not to be easily baulked of their object.
Again the high priest - arose (Matthew 26:62), matters having now come to a crisis, and
Asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? Why our Lord should have answered this question, when He was silent as to the former, we might not have quite seen, but for Matthew, who says (Matthew 26:63) that the high priest put Him upon solemn oath, saying, "I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God." Such an adjuration was understood to render an answer legally necessary (Leviticus 5:1).
And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
And Jesus said, I am - or, as in Matthew 26:64, "Thou hast said [it]." In Luke, however (Luke 22:70), the answer, "Ye say that I am" [ Humeis (G5210) legete (G3004), hoti (G3754) egoo (G1473) eimi (G1510)], should be rendered-as DeWette, Meyer, Ellicott, and the best critics agree that the preposition requires-`Ye say [it], for I am [so].' Some words, however, were spoken by our Lord before giving His answer to this solemn question. These are recorded by Luke alone (Luke 22:67-68): "Art thou the Christ (they asked)? tell us. And He said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believed: and if I also ask" - or 'interrogate' [ erooteesoo (G2065)] "you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go." This seems to have been uttered before giving His direct answer, as a calm remonstrance and dignified protest against the prejudgment of His case and the unfairness of their mode of procedure. But now let us hear the rest of the answer, in which the conscious majesty of Jesus breaks forth from behind the dark cloud which overhung Him as He stood before the Council.
And (in that character) ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. In Matthew (Matthew 26:64) a slightly different but interesting turn is given to it by one word: "Thou hast said [it]: nevertheless" - We prefer this sense of the word [ pleen (G4133)] to 'besides,' which some recent critics decide for - "I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sit on the right hand, of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven:" 'I know the scorn with which ye are ready to meet such an avowal: To your eyes, which are but eyes of flesh, there stands at this bar only a mortal like yourselves, and he at the mercy of the ecclesiastical and civil authorities: Nevertheless, a day is coming when ye shall see another sight: those eyes, which now gaze on me with proud disdain, shall see this very prisoner at the right hand of the Majesty on high, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
Then shall the Judged One be revealed as the Judge, and His judges in this chamber appear at His august tribunal: then shall the unrighteous judges be impartially judged; and while they are wishing that they had never been born, He for whom they now watch as their Victim shall be greeted with the hallelujahs of heaven and the welcome of Him that sitteth upon the Throne!' The word rendered "hereafter" [ ap' (G575) arti (G737)] means, not 'at some future time' (as now "hereafter" commonly does), but what the English word originally signified, 'after here,' 'after now,' or 'from this time.' Accordingly, in Luke 22:69, the words used [ apo (G575) tou (G3588) nun (G3568)] mean 'from now.' So that though the reference we have given it to the day of His glorious Second Appearing is too obvious to admit of doubt, He would, by using the expression, 'From this time,' convey the important thought which He had before expressed, immediately after the traitor left the supper table to do his dark work, "Now is the Son of Man glorified" (John 13:31).
At this moment, and by this speech, did He "witness the good confession" [ teen (G3588) kaleen (G2570) homologian (G3671)], emphatically and properly, as the apostle says, 1 Timothy 6:13. Our translators render the words there, "Who before Pontius Pilate witnessed;" referring it to the admission of His being a King, in the presence of Caesar's own chief representative. But it should be rendered, as Luther renders it, and as the best interpreters now understand it, 'Who under Pontius Pilate witnessed, etc. [Compare the sense of epi (G1909) tinos (G5100) in such passages as Matthew 1:11; Mark 2:26; Luke 3:2; Acts 11:28; as also in the Apostles' Creed - "suffered under Pontius Pilate."] In this view of it, the apostle is referring not to what our Lord confessed before Pilate-which, though noble, was not of such primary importance-but to that sublime confession which, under Pilate's administration, He witnessed before the only competent tribunal on such occasions, the Supreme Ecclesiastical Council of God's chosen nation, that He was THE MESSIAH, and THE SON OF THE BLESSED ONE; in the former word owning His Supreme Official, in the latter His Supreme Personal Dignity.
Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses?
Then the high priest rent his clothes. On this expression of horror at blasphemy, see 2 Kings 18:37.
And saith, What need we any further witnesses?
Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.
Ye have heard the blasphemy. (See John 10:33.) In Luke (Luke 22:71), "For we ourselves have heard of his own mouth" - an affectation of religious horror.
What think ye? 'Say what the verdict is to be.'
And they all condemned him to be guilty of death - or of a capital crime, which blasphemy against God was according to the Jewish law (Leviticus 24:16). Yet not absolutely all; because Joseph of Arimathea, "a good man and a just," was one of that Council, and 'he was not a consenting party to the counsel and deed of them,' for that is the strict sense of the words of Luke 23:50-51 [ ouk (G3756) een (G2258) sungkatatheimenos (G4784) tee (G3588) boulee (G1012) kai (G2532) tee (G3588) praxei (G4234) autoon (G846)]. Probably he absented himself, and Nicodemus also, from this meeting of the Council, the temper of which they would know too well to expect their voice to be listened to; and in that case, the words of our Evangelist are to be taken strictly, that, without one dissentient voice, "all [present] condemned Him to be guilty of death."
Every word here must be carefully observed, and the several accounts put together, that we may lose none of the awful indignities about to be described.
And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands.
And some began to spit on him - or, as Matt. 22:67 , "to spit in [or 'into' - eis (G1519)] His face." Luke (Luke 22:63) says in addition, "And the men that held Jesus mocked him" - or cast their jeers at Him.
And to cover his face, [ perikaluptein (G4028)] - or 'to blindfold him' (as in Luke 22:64),
And to buffet him, [ kolafizein (G2852)]. Luke's word, which is rendered "smote Him" (Luke 22:63), is a stronger one [ derontes (G1194)], conveying an idea for which we have an exact equivalent in English, but one too colloquial to be inserted here.
And [began] to say unto him, Prophecy. In Matthew 26:68 this is given more fully: "Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?" The sarcastic fling at Him as "the Christ," and the demand of Him in this character to name the unseen perpetrator of the blows inflicted on Him, was in them as infamous as to Him it must have been, and was intended to be, stinging.
And the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands - or "struck Him on the face" (Luke 22:64). Ah! Well did He say prophetically, in that Messianic prediction which we have often referred to, "I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting"! (Isaiah 50:6). "And many other things blasphemously spake they against Him" (Luke 22:65). This general statement is important, as showing that virulent and varied as were the recorded affronts put upon Him, they are but a small specimen of what He endured on that dark occasion.
But this brings us back to our poor disciple, now fairly within the coils of the serpent. It is extremely difficult so to piece together the several charges thrown against Peter, and his replies, as perfectly to harmonize and exhaust the four streams of text. But the following, in which the best critics concur, comes as near to it, perhaps, as we shall succeed in getting. Nothing could better show how independently of each other the Evangelists must have written than the almost hopeless difficulty of putting all the accounts of Peter's denials into their exact order, so as to make one harmonious record out of them. But the circumstantial differences are just of that nature which is so well understood in sifting a mass of complicated evidence on a public trial, which, instead of throwing doubt over them, only confirms the more strongly the truth of the facts reported.
And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest:
And as Peter was beneath in the palace. This little word "beneath" [ katoo (G2736)] - one of our Evangelist's graphic touches-is most important for the right understanding of what we may call the topography of the scene. We must take it in connection with Matthew's word (Matthew 26:69). "Now Peter sat without [ exoo (G1854)] in the palace" - or quadrangular court, in the center of which the fire would be burning; and crowding around and buzzing about it would be the menials and others who had been admitted within the court. At the upper end of this court, probably, would be the memorable chamber in which the trial was held-open to the court, likely, and not far from the fire (as we gather from Luke 22:61), but on a higher level; because (as our verse says) the court, with Peter in it, was "beneath" it. The ascent to the Council-chamber was perhaps by a short flight of steps. If the reader will bear this explanation in mind, he will find the intensely interesting details which follow more intelligible.
There cometh one of the maids of the high priest - "the damsel that kept the door" (John 18:17). The Jews seem to have employed women as porters of their doors (Acts 12:13).
And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.
And when she saw Peter warming himself she looked upon him Lke (Luke 22:56) is here more graphic; And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him. Luke (Luke 22:56) is here more graphic; "But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire" [ pros (G4314) to (G3588) foos (G5457)] - literally, 'by the light,' which, shining full upon him, revealed him to the girl - "and earnestly looked upon him" [ kai (G2532) atenisasa (G816) autoo (G846)] - or, 'fixed her gave upon him.' His demeanour and timidity, which must have attracted notice, as so generally happens, 'leading,' says Olshausen, 'to the recognition of him.'
And said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth - `with Jesus the Nazarene,' or, "with Jesus of Galilee" (Matthew 26:69). The sense of this is given in John's report of it (John 18:17), "Art not thou also one of this man's disciple?" that is, thou as well as "that other disciple," whom she knew to be one, but did not challenge, perceiving that he was a privileged person. In Luke (Luke 22:56) it is given as a remark made by the maid to one of the bystanders - "this man was also with Him." If so expressed in Peter's hearing-drawing upon him the eyes of everyone that heard it (as we know it did, Matthew 26:70), and compelling him to answer to it-that would explain the different forms of the report naturally enough. But in such a case this is of no real importance.
But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew.
But he denied - "before all" (Matthew 26:70).
Saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest - in Luke, "I know Him not."
And he went out into the porch, [ to (G3588) proaulion (G4259)] - the vestibule leading to the street-no doubt finding the fire-place too hot for him; possibly also with the hope of escaping-but that was not to be, and perhaps he dreaded that too. Doubtless, by this time his mind would be getting into a sea of commotion, and would fluctuate every moment in its resolves.
AND THE COCK CREW. See the note at Luke 22:34. This, then, was the First Denial.
There is here a verbal difference among the Evangelists, which, without some information which has been withheld, cannot be quite extricated.
And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them.
And a maid saw him again - or, 'a girl' [ hee (G3588) paidiskee (G3814)]. It might be rendered 'the girl;' but this would not necessarily mean the same one as before, but might, and probably does, mean just the female who had charge of the door or gate near which Peter now was. Accordingly, in Matthew 26:71, she is expressly called "another [maid]" [ alla (G243)]. But in Luke it is a male servant: "And after a little while (from the time of the first denial) another" - that is, as the word signifies, 'another male' servant [ heteros (G2087)]. But there is no real difficulty, as the challenge, probably, after being made by one was reiterated by another. Accordingly, in John, it is "They said therefore unto him," etc., as if more than one challenged him at once.
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 Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto.
And he denied it again. In Luke, "Man, I am not." But worst of all in Matthew - "And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man." (Matthew 26:72). This was the Second Denial, more vehement, alas! than the first.
And a little after ["about the space of one hour after" (Luke 22:59 )], they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilean, and thy speech agreeth thereto - "bewrayeth (or 'discovereth') thee" (Matthew 26:73). In Luke it is "Another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this [fellow] also was with him; for he is a Galilean." The Galilean dialect had a more Syrian cast than that of Judea. If Peter had held his peace, this peculiarity would not have been observed; but hoping, probably, to put them off the scent by joining in the fireside-talk, he only thus discovered himself! The Fourth Gospel is particularly interesting here: "One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman (or kinsman to him) whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with Him?" (John 18:26). No doubt his relationship to Malchus drew his attention to the man who had struck him, and this enabled him to identify Peter. 'Sad reprisals!' exclaims Bengel. Thus, everything tended to identify him as a disciple of the Prisoner-his being introduced into the interior by one who was known to be a disciple, as the maid who kept the gate could testify; the recognition of him by the girl at the fire, as one whom she had seen in His company; his broad guttural Galilean dialect; and there being one present who recognized him as the man who, at the moment of the prisoner's apprehension, struck a blow with his sword at a relative of his own. Poor Peter! Thou art caught in thine own toils; but like a wild bull in a net, thou wilt toss and rage, filling up the measure of thy terrible declension by one more denial of thy Lord, and that the foulest of all.
But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.
But he began to curse, [ anathematizein (G332)] -'to anathematize,' or wish himself accursed if what he But he began to curse, [ anathematizein (G332)] - 'to anathematize,' or wish himself accursed if what he was now to say was not true,
And to swear - or to take a solemn oath, "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.
And THE SECOND TIME THE COCK CREW. The other three Evangelists, who mention but one crowing of the cock-and that not the first, but the second and last one of Mark-all say the cock crew "immediately," but Luke says, "Immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew" (Luke 22:60). Alas!-But now comes the wonderful sequel.
It has been observed that while the beloved disciple is the only one of the four Evangelists who does not record the repentance of Peter, he is the only one of the four who records the affecting and most beautiful scene of his complete restoration (John 21:15-17).
Luke 22:61: "And the Lord turned and looked upon Peter." How? it will be asked. We answer, From the chamber in which the trial was going on, in the direction of the court where Peter then stood-in the way already explained. See the note at Mark 14:66. Our Second Evangelist makes no mention of this look, but dwells on the warning of his Lord about the double crowing of the cock, which would announce his triple fall, as what rushed stingingly to his recollection and made him dissolve in tears.
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. To the same effect is the statement of the First Evangelist (Matthew 26:75), except that like "the beloved physician," he notices the "bitterness" of the weeping. The most precious link, however, in the whole chain of circumstances in this scene is beyond doubt that "look" of deepest, tenderest import reported by Luke alone. Who can tell what lightning flashes of wounded love and piercing reproach shot from that "look" through the eye of Peter into his heart! "And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice. And Peter went out and went bitterly." How different from the sequel of Judas' act! Doubtless the hearts of the two men toward the Saviour were perfectly different from the first; and the treason of Judas was but the consummation of the wretched man's resistance of the blaze of light in the midst of which he had lived for three years, while Peter's denial was but a momentary obscuration of the heavenly light and love to his Master which ruled his life. But the immediate cause of the blessed revulsion which made Peter "weep bitterly," was, beyond all doubt, this heart-piercing "look" which his Lord gave him. And remembering the Saviour's own words at the table, "Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; but I prayer for thee, that thy faith fail not," may we not say that this prayer fetched down all that there was in that "look" to pierce and break the heart of Peter, to keep it from despair, to work in it "repentance unto salvation not to be repented of," and at length, under other healing touches, to "restore his soul"? (See the note at Mark 16:7.)
Remarks: (1) The demeanour of the Blessed One before Annas first, and then before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrim, is best left to speak its own mingled meekness and dignity. We, at least, are not able to say anything-beyond what has come out in the exposition-that would not run the risk of weakening the impression which the Evangelical Narrative itself leaves on every devout and thoughtful mind. But the reader may be asked to observe the wisdom which to Annas speaks, but before the Sanhedrim keeps silence while the witnesses against Him are uttering their lies and contradictions. In the former case, silence might have been liable to misconstruction; and the opportunity which the questions of Annas about "His disciples and His doctrine" afforded, of appealing to the openness of all His movements from first to last, was too important not to be embraced: whereas, in the latter case, the silence which He preserved-while the false witnesses were stultifying themselves and the case was breaking down of itself the further they proceeded-was the most dignified, and to His envenomed judges most stinging reply to them. It was only when, in despair of evidence except from His own mouth, the high priest demanded of Him on solemn oath to say whether He were the Christ, the Son of the Blessed, and the moment had thus arrived when it was right and fitting in itself, and according to the law, that He should "witness" the "good confession," that He broke silence accordingly-and in how exalted terms!
(2) Perhaps the best commentary on the sixth petition of the Lord's Prayer - "Lead us not into temptation" - is to be found in the conduct of Peter, and the circumstances in which he found himself, after our Lord warned him to "pray that he might not enter into temptation." See the note at Matthew 6:13, and Remark 9 at the close of that section. The explicit announcement that all the Eleven should be stumbled in Him and scattered that very night, might have staggered him; but it did not. The still more explicit announcement addressed immediately to Peter, that Satan had sought and obtained them all-to the extent of being permitted to sift them as wheat-but as to Peter in particular, that He had prayed for him, that his faith might not fail, was fitted, surely, to drive home upon his conscience a sense of more than ordinary danger, and more than ordinary need to watch and pray; but it did not.
Above all, the appalling announcement, that-instead of the certainty of his standing, even if all the rest should fall, and of his readiness to go to prison and to death for his blessed Master-the cock should not crow twice before he had thrice denied that he knew Him, was fitted, one should think, to dash the confidence of the most self-confident believer; but it made no impression upon Peter. Once more, in the garden his Lord found him sleeping, along with the other two, in the midst of His agony and bloody sweat; and He chided him for his inability to watch with Him one hour on that occasion. He gave him and the rest a last warning, almost immediately before Judas and the officers approached to take Him, to "watch and pray, that they entered not into temptation." But how did he take it? Why, he insisted on admission within that fatal quadrangle, which from that time he would never forget.
We wonder not at his eagerness to learn all that was going on within that court; but one who had been so warned of what he would do that very night should have kept far away from a spot which must have seemed, even to himself, the most likely to prove the fatal one. The coil of the serpent, however, was insensibly but surely drawing him in, and he was getting, by his own act and deed, sucked into the vortex - "led into temptation." Through the influence of "that disciple who was known to the high priest," the door which was shut to the eager crowd was opened to him. No doubt he now thought all was right, and congratulated himself on his good fortune. He lounges about, pretending indifference or the mere general curiosity of others. But it is bitterly cold, and an inviting fire is blazing in the court. He will join the knot that is clustering around it-perhaps he will pick up some of the current talk about the prisoner, the trial, and its probable issue.
He has gotten close to the fire, and a seat too-so near, that his countenance is lighted up by the blazing fuel. He has now gained his end, and in so cold a night how comfortable he feels - "till a dark strikes through his liver"! (Proverbs 7:22-23.) O, if this true-hearted and noble disciple had but retained the spirit which prompted him to say, along with others, of the unnamed traitor that sat at the supper table, "Lord, Is it I?" (see the notes at John 13:21-25) - if he had watched and gone to his knees, when his Master was on His, agonizing in the Garden, his danger had not been so great, even within the court of the high priest. There, indeed, he had no business to be, considering the sad prediction which hung over him-this, in fact, was what sold him into the enemy's hands. But, if we could have supposed him sitting at that fire in a "watching and praying" spirit, the challenge of him by the maid, as one who had been "with Jesus the Nazarene," had drawn forth a "good confession." And what though he had had to "go to prison and to death for His sake"? it had been but what he was undoubtedly prepared for as he sat at the supper table, and what he afterward did cheerfully in point of fact. But he was caught without his armour. The fear of man now brought a snare (Proverbs 29:25). His locks were shorn. The secret of his great strength was gone, and he had become weak as other men. O, let these mournful facts pierce the ears of the children of God, and let them listen to One who knows them better than they do themselves, when He warns them to "watch and pray, that they enter not into temptation."
(3) See how the tendency of all sin is to aggravate as well as multiply itself. Peter's first fall naturally led to his second, and his second to his third; each denial of his Lord being now felt as but one and the same act-as only the keeping up of the character which he would regret that he had been driven to assume, but, once assumed, needed to keep up for consistency's sake. 'The deed was done, and could not be undone-he must now go through with it.' But merely to reiterate, even in a different form, his first denial, would not do for the second, nor the second for the third, if he was to believed. He must exaggerate his denials; he must repudiate his Master in such a style that people would be forced to say, We must be mistaken-that man cannot be a disciple, so unlike all we have ever heard of His character and teaching. So Peter at length comes to "anathematize" himself if he should be uttering a lie in ignoring the Nazarene, and solemnly "swears" that he knows nothing of Him.
Nor, although there was about an hour's interval between the first and the second denials, is there any reason to suppose that he had begun to give way, or seriously meditated confessing his Lord within that court. His mind, from the first moment that he fell before the maid, would be in a burning fever-his one object being to avoid detection; and this would keep the warning about the cock-crowing from ever coming up to his recollection; because it is expressly said that it was only after his last denial and the immediate crowing of the cock, that "Peter remembered" his Lord's warning. Well, these details will not have been recorded in vain, if they convince believers that, besides the danger of the strongest giving way, there is no length in defection to which they may not quickly go, when once that has been done. Times of persecution, especially when unto death, have furnished sad enough evidence that Peter's case was no abnormal one; that be acted only according to the stable laws of the human mind and heart in such circumstances, and only illustrated the laws of the Kingdom of God as to the sources of weakness and of strength; and that in similar circumstances the children of God in every age, when like him they flatter themselves, in spite of warnings, that they will never be moved, will act a similar part.
(4) Secret things indeed belong unto the Lord our God, but those which are revealed unto us and to our children forever (Deuteronomy 29:29). We intrude not into those things which we have not seen, vainly puffed up by our fleshly mind (Colossians 2:18); but the few glimpses with which Scripture favours us of what is passing on the subject of men's eternal interests in the unseen world are of too vital a nature to be overlooked. In the book of Job we have revelations to which there is a manifest allusion in our Lord's warning to Peter, and without which it could not perhaps be fully understood. The all-seeing Judge is seen surrounded by His angelic assessors on human affairs, and Satan presents himself among them. "Whence comest thou?" the Lord says. "From going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it," is the reply-watching men's actions, studying their character, seeking whom he might devour.
'In these roamings, hast thou seen My servant Job (asks the Lord), a saint above all saints on the earth?' 'O yes (is the reply), I have seen him, and weighed his religion too: 'Tis easy for him to be religious, with a divine hedge about him, and laden with prosperity. But only let me have him, that I may sift him as wheat, and we shall soon see what becomes of his religion. Why, touch but his substance, and he will curse Thee to Thy face.' 'Behold, he is in thine hand (is the divine response), to sift him to the uttermost; only upon his person lay not a hand.' So Satan goes forth, strips him of substance and family at once, leaving him only a wife worse than none, who did but aid the tempter's purposes. Observe now the result. "So Job arose and tore his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell upon the ground, and worshipped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there: The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly." But the enemy of men's souls is not to be easily foiled. He has missed his mark once, to be sure; but the next time he will succeed. He mistook the patriarch's weak point. Now, however, he is sure of it. Again he enters the councils of heaven, is questioned as before, and rebuked, in language unspeakably comforting to the tempted, for moving the Lord to destroy His dear saint without cause. 'Not without cause (replies the tempter): Skin for skin; yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life: suffer me once more to sift him as wheat, and it will be seen what chaff his religion is.' 'Then, behold, he is in thine hand, to smite his person even as thou wilt; only save his life.' So Satan went forth, and did his worst; the body of this saint is now a mass of running sores; he sits among the ashes, scraping himself with a potsherd; while his heartless wife advises him to have done with this at once, by sending up to God such a curse upon Him for His cruelty as would bring down a bolt of vengeance, and end his sufferings with his life.
Now hear the noble reply: "Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips." He is seen to be wheat and no chaff, and the enemy disappears from the stage. This now is what our Lord alludes to in His warning at the supper table. Satan, still at his old work, had demanded to have these poor disciples, to sift them too; and he had gotten them-in that sense and to that extent. [The reader is requested to refer to the remarks on the sense of the word exeeteesato (G1809), Luke 22:31.] But while that transaction was going on in the unseen world, a counteraction, in the case of Peter, was proceeding at the same time. He whom the Father heareth alway "prayed for Peter that his faith might not fail." And (as implied in the tenses of the verbs employed-see the remarks on the above passage) when the one action was completed, so was the other-the bane and the antidote going together.
Poor Peter! Little thinkest thou what is passing between heaven and hell about thee, and thy one source of safety: That thou gottest that "look" of wounded love from thy suffering Lord; that thy heart, pierced by it, was not driven to despair; that the warning of the triple denial and the double cock-crowing did not send thee after the traitor, by the nearest road to "his own place:" what was all this due to but to that "prayer for thee, that thy faith fail not"? Now, for the first time, thou knowest the meaning of that word "fail." Perhaps it deluded thee into the persuasion that thou wouldst not give way at all, and thou wert thyself confident enough of that. Now thou knowest by sad experience what "shipwreck of faith and of a good conscience" thou hadst made, but that the means of preventing it were fetched down by the great Intercessor's "prayer."
(5) If Christ's praying for Peter, even in the days of His flesh here below, availed so much, what a glorious efficacy must attach to His pleadings for them that are dear to Him within the veil? For here, His proper work was to give His life a Ransom for them: there, to sue out the fruit of His travail in their behalf. But along with these intercessions, are there no such "looks" now cast upon His poor fallen ones, such as He darted upon Peter, just when he had gone down to his lowest depth in shameful repudiation of Him? Let the fallen and recovered children of God answer that question.
(6) What light does this last thought, in connection with Christ's special prayer in behalf of Peter, cast upon the eternal safety of believers? "While I was with them in the world I kept them in Thy name: those that Thou hast given Me I kept [ dedookas (G1325) - efulaxa (G5442)], and none of them is lost but the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee: Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one as We are" (John 17:11-12). (7) If prayer on the part of Christ for His people is so essential to their safety, shall their own prayer for it be less so? He who said, "I prayer for thee," said also, "Watch and pray ye, that ye enter not into temptation." And who that verily believes that Jesus within the veil is praying for him that his faith fail not, can choose but cry, "Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe"?
(8) Was it while those false witnesses were rising up against Thee, blessed Saviour, and laying to Thy charge things that Thou knewest not, that Thou didst cast toward Peter that soul-piercing "look"? Or was it in the midst of those heart-rending indignities, at the reading of which one almost covers his face, and the calm endurance of which must have filled even heaven with wonder-was it during one of those dreadful moments when they were proceeding to blindfold that blessed Face, that Thou lookedst full on Thy poor disciple with that never-to-be-forgotten look? I know not. But I can well believe that no indignities from enemies wounded Thee at that hour like that which was done unto Thee by thine own familiar friend and dear disciple, and that this quite absorbed the sense of that. And if in heaven He feels the slight put upon Him by those who will not suffer Him to "gather" them, shall He not feel even more acutely (if the word may be allowed) "the wounds wherewith He is wounded in the house of His friends"?
(9) in reviewing the contents of this section, who can be insensible to the self-evidencing reality which is stamped upon the facts of it, both in their general bearing and in their minute details! What mere inventor of a story would have so used the powerful influence of Annas as to hand over the prisoner to him first, relating what passed between them in the dead of night, before the Council could be gotten together for the formal trial? And who would have thought of making Him answer with silence the lies and contradictions of the witnesses against Him; when these failed to make any decent charge, bringing forward at the last two more, only to neutralize each other by the inconsistency of their statements; and, when all failed, and the high priest in despair had to put it to Him on oath to say if He were the Christ, the Son of the Blessed, then drawing from Him a sublime affirmative? The condemnation and the indignities which followed would be natural enough; but the particulars now enumerated lie quite beyond the range of conceivable fiction.
But far more so are the details of Peter's denials. That the most eminent of the Eleven should be made to inflict on his Master the deepest wound, and this in the hour of greatest apparent weakness, when a Prisoner in the hands of His enemies-is unlike enough the work of fiction. But those minute details-the "following Him from afar" [ apo (G575) makrothen (G3113)]; the introduction into the quadrangle through the influence of "that disciple who was known to the high priest;" the cold night, and the blazing fire, and the clustering of the menials and others around it, with Peter among them, and the detection of him by a maid, through the reflection of the fire-light on his countenance, the first denial in that moment of surprise, and the crowing of the cock; his uneasy removal "out into the porch," the second denial, more emphatic than the first, and then the last and foulest, and the second cock-crowing; but beyond every other thought that would never occur to an inventor, that "look upon Peter" by his wounded Lord, and that rush of recollection which brought the sad warning at the supper table fresh to view, and his "going out and weeping bitterly," - who that reads all this with unsophisticated intelligence, can doubt its reality, or fail to feel as if himself had been in the midst of it all? But what puts the crown upon the self-evidencing truth of all this is, that we have four Records of it, so harmonious as to be manifestly but different reports of the same transactions, yet differing to such an extent in minute details, that hostile criticism has tried to make out a case of irreconcilable contradiction, which has staggered some-while the most friendly and loving criticism has not been able to remove all difficulties. This at least shows that none of them wrote to prop up the statements of the others, and that the facts of the Gospel History are bound together by a fourfold cord that cannot be broken. Thanks, then, be unto God for this inestimable treasure, but above all for the Unspeakable Gift of whom it tolls its wondrous tale-a tale as new while we now write as when the Evangelists themselves were holding the pen-a tale, like the new song, that will never grow old!
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Mark 14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter