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Had he reflected, he would have seen that he was running into the face of danger; placing himself in the most likely situation to prove the truth of Jesus's words, “ Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice." But he did not reflect: he yielded to the impulse of his natural disposition: and learnt, as many others have learnt, by fatal experience, how weak the flesh is, and unable to resist temptation, even when the spirit is ready, and the mind resolved to obedience.
55. And the chief. priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none.
56. For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together.
57. And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying,
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.
59. But neither so did their witness agree together.
The proceedings of the council here had in their history a precedent which they did not well to follow. When Ahab's queen determined in herself that he should possess the vineyard of Naboth, she too desired to have a lawful pretext, and gave orders that a solemn assembly should be called, when Naboth should be “set on high before the people;” and two false witnesses be prepared “to bear witness against him, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king.” So they adjudged him to be worthy of death, having already decreed his sentence in their minds. And now in the case
1 Kings xxi. 7–13.
of Jesus, the chief priests and council though resolved upon his death, call to their aid the forms of law, and try to frame some allegation against him which might give the colour of justice to their proceedings. Certain witnesses
Certain witnesses bore testimony to words anbiguously spoken, on the first occasion when the Lord drove out the money changers from the temple. The Jews had asked of him, " What sign showest thou, seeing that thou doest these things ? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." He spoke of the temple of his body, which being destroyed, and raised again the third day, became to them the sign which they had required. It would have been an idle boast, if spoken by an ordinary person concerning the temple at Jerusalem, which “had been forty and six years in building.” But even then, it furnished no subject of serious accusation : they could not find in it occasion to condemn him. If such pretext was to be found at all, Jesus himself must furnish it. They deemed it blasphemy that he should acknowledge himself to be the Son of God, and this he would not deny.
60. And the high-priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?
61. 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 ?
62. 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.
3 Joho ü. 18.
63. Then the high-priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses ?
64. Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.
05. 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.
By this outbreak, this violence of cruelty and hatred, they completed the measure of their own guilt. But they also fulfilled the prophecies, that thus it must be; that he whom God had sent to be a Prince and a Saviour, should be “ despised and rejected of men ;" * that “the stone” which was to become “the head of the corner,” on which the church should be raised and supported, must first be "rejected by the builders,” the leaders and rulers of the people." And so, too late, they would discover: when hereafter they should see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. They should see him come in power, when he should lead on the Roman army
, to the destruction of their city; and “not one stone should be left upon another” of that temple which was now falsely made a ground of accusation
“For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west: so should the coming of the Son of man be,”? no less sudden, no less withering, no less destructive, no less irresistible. This “end,” however, “ was not yet :” an in
” terval of forty years must pass away: and before
against him. 6
* Isa. liii. 3.
Ps. cxviii. 22. Matt. xxi. 42. 7 Ib. 27,
that day of darkness and tribulation arrived, the high-priest and his abettors, together with most of those then present joining in their wickedness, would be laid in their graves. Another, a further, a more distant season must be intended: when “the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, and shall sit on the throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations." 8 Then “every eye shall see him, sitting on the right hand of power, and they also that pierced him : and all the nations of the earth shall wail because of him ; 9 all they, who like these priests and rulers, have rejected and despised him. Then shall they say to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand ?" 1
Yet there are those who “ shall be able to stand in that day. They who have acknowledged him in his humiliation, shall be acknowledged by him when
in glory. They who in this his condemnation by the Jewish rulers, perceive the condemnation of their own sinful nature which he was then enduring, They who, in his sufferings, see the desert of their own sins, which he then bore in his own body. These now receive him, as the Messiah fore. told from the beginning, in whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed. They trust in him, as the author of eternal life to all them that obey him. And hereafter they shall see him coming in the clouds of heaven, “with the voice of the archangel, and
6 Matt. xxv. 31.
9 Rev. i. 7.
i Rev. vi. 16,
the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then they which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall they ever be with the Lord.” ?
PETER'S DENIAL OF CHRIST.
Mark xiv. 66—72.
66. And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high-priest :
67. And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.
68. But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch, and the cock crew.
We now see the force of our Lord's previous warning: Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation. Not long before, it had seemed impossible to Peter, that he should deny his attachment to his Lord. Though I should die with thee, yet will l not deny thee. But now, seeing Jesus in the hands of enemies, and being surrounded by the
% 1 Thess. iv. 16, 17.