« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
with contempt; and this He would not do, because that power, however abused, was given him from above. "Besides there is a time to speak and a time to keep silent, and Christ has given us a pattern of both.” Indeed the question itself was put in the name of the living God, and Jesus was called upon by the authority of the high priest in answering it to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. He therefore said, "I am; and hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”
E. Mamma, I think when the high priest heard that, he must have hesitated.
M. So bent were they all upon their wicked work, that even this reply had no effect upon any of them. The high priest no sooner heard it, than “he rent his clothes and said, He hath spoken blasphemy; what need we any further witnesses? He is guilty of death.” Such you see, was the ground on which at last the Jews condemned our Lord. Once before they had sought to stone Him, and now they did actually condemn Him to death, because He called Himself the Son of God. For they had a law, as they afterwards stated to Pilate, by which He ought to die, "because he made himself the Son of God." This then was the charge upon which the Great Council of the Jews condemned Jesus to be guilty of death.
E. And I suppose, if He had not really been the Son of God, it would have been very wicked to have said so?
M. Certainly it would; and in that case the sentence of death would have been a just one. To have claimed to be the Son of God, and so to have
made Himself equal with God, had He not been so, would have been blasphemy. And by the law of Moses blasphemy was punishable with death; as you may see in Lev. xxiv. 16. But Jesus is the Son of God: He is so in that sense in which we could not apply it to any created being without blasphemy.
How does it strengthen our faith in our Lord's Divinity to find Him so solemnly asserting it on such an occasion as this! Before His birth it was said by the Prophet,“ They shall call his name Immanuel, which, being interpreted, is God with us;" and now He claimed it as His own, though death was to be the consequence.
But though this is true beyond all dispute, what rage, what animosity did it excite in the minds of His enemies! Now began that shameful usage of His sacred person, which makes us shudder as we read. "Then did they spit in his face and buffeted him ; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, saying," in rude mockery, "Prophesy unto us, thou Christ."
O holy Jesus, what a beginning was there here of thy bitter cross and passion! there thou standest bound, condemned, spit upon, buffeted, derided by malicious sinners. Thou art bound, who camest to loose the bands of death; thou art condemned, at whose sentence the world must quail; thou art spit upon (O shameful insult!) that art fairer than the children of men; thou art buffetted, in whose mouth was no guile; thou art derided, who art clothed with glory and majesty." And there thou didst stand in patient majesty; receiving all this at the hands of those for whom thy blood was to be poured out! Oh! how does the love of Jesus pass our understandings !
But how must even these sufferings have been aggravated by the circumstance, that at such a moment His disciples had all forsaken Him and fled! Two of them, indeed, Peter and John, had so far overcome their fears as to follow Jesus; not however as attached disciples, but afar off, as if they had been only curious or indifferent spectators. In this way they followed Him even into the court of the high priest's house, where John, being known, obtained admission for Peter also. Affection indeed brought them thither, although they had not the courage to show it openly. Again" the spirit was willing," but how "weak the flesh!" How little did Peter think what a lesson of self-humiliation he was here to learn. What a deep view of his own weakness he was to obtain, and how utterly and for ever he should be led to renounce that self-confidence, which, only a few short hours before, had led him to exclaim, "Though I should die with thee yet will I not deny thee!" But we must see how all this came to pass.
It was night you see when all this happened; and Peter had probably expected that he should not be noticed, even if there were any present, who might have seen him before with the Lord Jesus. He did not of course foresee all the little circumstances, so trifling in themselves, which should hurry him on from one sin to another, and end at last in his shame and misery. The night was cold; and the servants of the high priest had made a fire in the midst of the court-yard below, at which they stood warming themselves, and Peter, most likely on purpose to avoid suspicion, stood with them and warmed himself, wishing to see the end of the examination of Jesus, which was going on in the palace, or court. And there came one of the maids
of the high priest, who, observing Peter's countenance as he sat warming himself by the fire, and remembering probably that he was the same person who had come in with John, or being struck perhaps with some expression of anxiety, or fear, or sorrow, which might well have appeared in his countenance, accused him at once of being one of Jesus' followers. But Peter denied before all, pretending not even to know what the woman meant !
E. O Mamma, is it possible? could that have been Peter?
M. I do not wonder that you are surprised, even though you were aware that he would deny his Master; there is something, when we come to the point, so false and base in such conduct. Can this indeed be Peter? But, alas! his fall was deep, as well as sudden. Not once, not even twice, did he repeat those dreadful words, "I know him not;" but again and again, and that in spite of warning; for scarce had he denied his God, than the cock crew, as Jesus had foretold. I dare say he was disturbed by the sound, but he was not awakened by it to a sense of his guilt―he soon returned again to the spot, from which he had retired, after the maid had spoken, perhaps to hide his confusion; for the voice of conscience will make itself heard and felt but he returned, and was again charged with being one of Christ's disciples, his Galilean dialect betraying him to the people: but he again denied it with a wicked oath, saying, "I do not know the man." Another hour passed away; what a miserable hour it must have been to Peter! once more he was charged in like manner, not by one person only, but by several, amongst whom was a relation of Malchus, the man
whose ear he had cut off in the garden of Gethsemane. If Peter had been alarmed before, how much more frightened must he have been, when this person asked him, "Did I not see thee in the garden with him?” Then Peter" began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man."-So weak is human nature, when left to itself. Is this the Peter, who had so recently declared that he was ready to go with Jesus to prison and to death? Can this be he who, almost more than all the rest, had loved his blessed Lord? Is this the loyal, the zealous, the courageous Peter, whose zeal in Gethsemane it had been necessary to restrain? yes, even he falls, when divine support is withheld; just as Adam, and Moses, and David, and Hezekiah, and many a saint had done before, all warning us most solemnly of the danger of trusting in ourselves. Unhappy Peter, who can imagine what he must have felt, when, just as those dreadful oaths had fallen from his lips, the cock crew again.
E. And did the crowing of the cock this time bring him to himself?
M. I doubt not that the cock might have crowed in vain, if Jesus had still left him to himself; but "amidst all His own misery He found time to think of His frail and ungrateful disciple." "Though He was upon His trial for His life, even then did Christ find leisure to think upon Peter, and give him a pitiful, but piercing look; a look that melted his heart, and dissolved it into tears." We read that the Lord turned and looked upon Peter; 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." That look from his