Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
CONSPIRACY OF THE
SUPPER AND THE
AGREES WITH THE
The events of this section appeared to have occurred on the fourth day
(Wednesday) of the Redeemer's Last Week.
Conspiracy of the Jewish Authorities to Put Jesus to Death
(Mr 14:1, 2).
1. 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
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
which He delivered to His disciples; His public ministry being now
closed: from His prophetical He is now passing into His
priestly office, although all along He 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 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
Israelitish houses, on which that blood was seen, when he came to
destroy all the first-born in the land of Egypt
(Ex 12:12, 13)
--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," so called
because for seven days only unleavened bread was to be eaten
We are further told by Matthew
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."
2. But they said, Not on the feast day--rather, not during the feast;
not until the seven days of unleavened bread should be over.
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 million 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
[Antiquities, 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 till 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 Supper and the Anointing at Bethany Six Days before the
The time of this part of the narrative 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.
3. 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
having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard--pure nard, a
very precious--"very costly"
and she brake the box, and poured it on his head--"and anointed," adds
"the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the house was
filled with the odor of the ointment." The only use of this was to
refresh and exhilarate--a grateful compliment in the East, amid 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.
4. And there were some that had indignation within themselves and
"But when His disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying," &c. The
spokesman, however, was none of the true-hearted Eleven--as we learn
"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?
5. 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"--the scrip or
treasure chest--"and bare what was put therein"--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
favored with the intimacy of Jesus ever suspect him, till a few minutes
before he voluntarily separated himself from their company--for
6. 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.
7. For ye have the poor with you always--referring to
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.
8. 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
"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
He lovingly regards it as done now. "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.'"
10. 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
(Mt 26:14, 15)
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." The thirty pieces of silver were thirty
shekels, the fine paid for man- or maid-servant accidentally killed
and equal to between four and five pounds sterling--"a goodly
price that I was prized at of them!"
11. 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 afterwards to refer to, was fulfilled
And he sought how he might conveniently betray him--or, as more fully
given in Luke
"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,
"Satan entered," to put him upon this hellish deed.
PREPARATION FOR, AND
CELEBRATION OF, THE
PASSOVER--ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE
TRAITOR--INSTITUTION OF THE
Lu 22:7-23, 39;
and see on
Joh 13:10, 11;
Joh 13:18, 19;
DISCIPLES AND THE
AGONY IN THE
ARRAIGNED BEFORE THE
Joh 18:13-18, 24-27).
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
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
(Joh 18:13, 14, 19-24).
Let us endeavor to trace the events in the true order of succession,
and in the detail supplied by a comparison of all the four streams of
Jesus Is Brought Privately before Annas, the Father-in-Law of
(Joh 18:13, 14).
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, and after holding the office for several years, was
deposed by Valerius Gratius, Pilate's predecessor in the procuratorship
of Judea [JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 18.2.1, &c.]. 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 [Antiquities, 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.
Now Caiaphas was he which gave counsel to the Jews, that it
was expedient that one man should die for the people.
What passed between Annas and our Lord during this interval the beloved
disciple reserves till he has related the beginning of Peter's fall. To
this, then, as recorded by our own Evangelist, let us meanwhile
Peter Obtains Access within the Quadrangle of the High Priest's
Residence, and Warms Himself at the Fire
(Mr 14:53, 54).
53. And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were
assembled--or rather, "there gathered together unto him."
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 be correct, it is fairly 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.
54. And Peter followed him afar off, even into--or "from afar, even
to the interior of."
the palace of the high priest--"An oriental house," says
"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, 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. 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, for Jesus heard all that was
going on around the fire, and turned and looked upon Peter
and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire--The
graphic details, here omitted, are supplied in the other Gospels.
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--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
renders it so cold about Easter as to make a watch fire at night
And Peter stood with them and warmed himself--"He went
in," says Matthew
"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, for 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
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 got together at earliest dawn. We have now, in the same Gospel, the
deeply instructive scene that passed during this non-official
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.
Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world--compare
He speaks of His public teaching as now a past thing--as now all over.
I ever taught in the synagogue and in the temple, whither the Jews
always resort--courting publicity, though with sublime
and in secret have I said nothing--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
Isa 45:19; 48:16).
Why askest thou Me? ask them which heard Me what I have said to
them--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-crimination, and resented it by falling back upon the right of
every accused party to have some charge laid against Him by competent
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
It would seem from
that this summary and undignified way of punishment what was deemed
insolence in the accused had the sanction even of the high priests
Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil--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
--is not to be taken to the letter.
Annas Sends Jesus to Caiaphas
Now Annas had sent Him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest--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
is to be read as a parenthesis, merely supplementing what was
This is the view of CALVIN,
But there are decided objections to this view. First: We cannot but
think that the natural sense of the whole passage, embracing
Joh 18:13, 14, 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
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
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 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;
informing 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
AUGUSTINE among the Fathers; and of the moderns, of
This brings us back to the text of our second Gospel, and in it to
The Judicial Trial and Condemnation of the Lord Jesus by the
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.
55. And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness
against Jesus to put him to death--Matthew
says they "sought false witness." They knew they could find
nothing valid; but having their Prisoner to bring before Pilate, they
behooved to make a case.
and found none--none that would suit their purpose, or make a decent
ground of charge before Pilate.
56. 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 naught, if they may but
get a smile from those above them: see a similar scene in
How is one reminded here of that complaint, "False witnesses did rise
up: they laid to my charge things that I knew not"
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
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"
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
57. And there arose certain, and bare false witness against
is more precise here: "At the last came two false witnesses." As
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?
58. 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
--the only one of the Evangelists who reports it 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"
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
59. But neither so did their witness agree together--that 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 every one 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 colorable 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.
60. 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.
61. But he held his peace, and answered nothing--This must have
nonplussed them. But they were not to be easily baulked of their
Again the high priest--arose
matters having now come to a crisis.
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,
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
(Also see on
62. And Jesus said, I am--or, as in Matthew
"Thou hast said [it]." In Luke, however
the answer, "Ye say that I am," should be rendered--as DE WETTE, 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
(Lu 22:67, 68):
"Art Thou the Christ [they asked]? tell us. And He said unto them, If I
tell you, ye will not believe: and if I also ask [interrogate] "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. (Also see on
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
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
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." The word rendered "hereafter"
means, not "at some future time" (as to-day "hereafter" commonly does),
but what the English word originally signified, "after here," "after
now," or "from this time." Accordingly, in
the words used 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"
At this moment, and by this speech, did He "witness the good
confession" emphatically and properly, as the apostle says in
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 Cæsar'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," &c. 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
63. Then the high priest rent his clothes--On this expression of
horror of blasphemy, see
and saith, What need we any further witnesses? (Also see on
64. Ye have heard the blasphemy--(See
"For we ourselves have heard of His own mouth"--an affectation of
religious horror. (Also see on
what think ye?--"Say what the verdict is to be."
they all condemned him to be guilty of death--or of a capital
crime, which blasphemy against God was according to the Jewish
Yet not absolutely all; for 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
Lu 23:50, 51.
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."
The Blessed One Is Now Shamefully Entreated
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
65. And some began to spit on him--or, as in
"to spit in [into] His face." Luke
says in addition, "And the men that held Jesus mocked him"--or cast
their jeers at Him. (Also see on
to cover his face--or "to blindfold him" (as in
to buffet him--Luke's word, which is rendered "smote Him"
is a stronger one, conveying an idea for which we have an exact
equivalent in English, but one too colloquial to be inserted here.
began to say unto him, Prophesy--In Matthew
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"
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 many other things blasphemously spake they against Him"
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.
DENIAL of His Lord
66. And as Peter was beneath in the palace--This little word
"beneath"--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
"Now Peter sat without 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
but on a higher level; for (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"
The Jews seem to have employed women as porters of their doors
67. And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him--Luke
is here more graphic; "But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the
fire"--literally, "by the light," which, shining full upon him,
revealed him to the girl--"and earnestly looked upon him"--or, "fixed
her gaze upon him." His demeanor 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"
The sense of this is given in John's report of it
"Art not thou also one of this man's disciples?" 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
it is given as a remark made by the maid to one of the
by-standers--"this man was also with Him." If so expressed in Peter's
hearing--drawing upon him the eyes of every one that heard it (as we
know it did,
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
68. But he denied--"before all"
saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest--in Luke
"I know Him not."
And he went out into the porch--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 on
This, then, was the First Denial.
DENIAL of His Lord
(Mr 14:69, 70).
There is here a verbal difference among the Evangelists, which without
some information which has been withheld, cannot be quite extricated.
69. And a maid saw him again--or, "a girl." 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
she is expressly called "another [maid]." 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. 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, &c.--as if more than one
challenged him at once.
and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them--or, as
--"This [fellow] was also with Jesus the Nazarene."
70. 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"
This was the Second Denial, more vehement, alas! than the first.
DENIAL of His Lord
70. And a little after--"about the space of one hour after"
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"
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 had not been observed; but hoping,
probably, to put them off the scent by joining in the fireside
talk, he was thus discovered. 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?"
No doubt his relationship to Malchus drew his attention to the man who
had smitten him, and this enabled him to identify Peter. "Sad
reprisals!" exclaims BENGEL. 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.
71. But he began to curse--"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.
72. 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
says, "Immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew." Alas!--But now
comes the wonderful sequel.
The Redeemer's Look upon Peter, and Peter's Bitter Tears
Lu 22:61, 62).
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
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 on
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
save that like "the beloved physician," he notices the "bitterness" of
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
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 wept bitterly--How different from the
sequel of Judas' act! Doubtless the hearts of the two men towards 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 prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not"
(Lu 22:31, 32),
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?"