We now begin the long, agonizing walk from Gethsemane to Gabbatha. All was superlative that night they seized our Lord in the Garden.
The Great Submission and Humiliation
“Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound Him” (v. 12). The Savior is arrested and bound, as a criminal today is handcuffed. What shame He suffered! This would prejudice Him as already guilty.
Omnipotence in bonds! Why were they able to bind Him who has all power in heaven and on earth? Until this hour, the hour of Calvary, they were not able to lay a hand on Him. “Then they sought to take Him, but no man laid hands on Him because His hour was not yet come” (John 7:30). “These words spoke Jesus in the treasury as He taught in the temple, and no man laid hands on Him; for His hour was not yet come” (John 8:20). But, in John 17:1 He had prayed, “Father, the hour is come.” Therefore, He submits.
It was Satan’s hour. He said to them in the Garden: “This is your hour and the power of darkness” (Luke 22:53). This hour was born from the womb of night. Satan is the prince of darkness. All the angels are held in check so that the powers of darkness may move freely. After our Lord told Peter to put up the sword, He said to him: “Do you not think that I cannot ask My Father and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:53). But, He would not do Satan injustice. In our righteous redemption even all the demands of hell are satisfied.
It was pre-eminently God’s hour. Our Lord had prayed: “Father, the hour is come. Glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee” (John 17:1). Never were God’s holiness, justice, mercy, grace, love, His hatred of sin, and His love for sinners so supremely magnified as at Calvary.
The Great Appeal
“and led Him to Annas first; for he was father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year” (v. 13). Both Annas and Caiaphas were considered to be high priests (Luke 3:2). Since Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, and older, he exerted greater influence over the Jews. Therefore, they brought Jesus first to him. This preliminary trial before Annas is recorded only by John. Annas questioned our Lord regarding “His disciples and about His teaching” (v. 19). These were the two charges brought against the Lord Jesus: insurrection and blasphemy.
‘Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues, and in the temple, where all the Jews come together, and I spoke nothing in secret” ‘ (v. 20).
The Lord Jesus did not mean that He never taught His disciples privately. He was affirming that His private teachings were the same as His public testimony. Our Lord’s life and ministry were an open book. In like manner, the church is no secret society. Let us always be sure that all we say and do are open to public examination without our ever being embarrassed.
“Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me, what I said to them; they know what I said” (v. 21).
Christian, you are in Annas’ judgment chamber with the Lord Jesus, and His opening words involve you in His trial. The world is still asking: “Who is Jesus; what are His claims, what can He do; is He real?” Jesus points to those who have heard Him, and especially to you who believe in Him, saying: “Ask them; they will tell you.” Please do not beg to be excused as Peter did, and say: “I do not know the man!” (Matt. 26:74).
Does Jesus go so far as to dare to make the testimony regarding Himself dependent upon your witness before the tribunal of the world? I once read of a Christian who was meditating in His evening devotions concerning the ascension of our Lord. When he retired for the night, he dreamed that he was present in heaven when the Lord Jesus returned there in triumph. In his dream, he heard the angel Gabriel say:
“Great Lord of Glory, You went down to that little ball of dust and died for those creatures there that they might become the children of God and one day come here to be with us in heaven. You have completed the mighty work of redemption. Now, what is Your plan for the success of Your mission?”
Our Lord replied:
“My plan is that those who believe in Me should tell someone else.”
“But if that plan fails, what other program do you have?” asked Gabriel.
The Lord Jesus solemnly answered:
“I have no other plan.”
This is the great appeal: “Ask those who have heard Me.” Just before He ascended back to heaven, He said to His disciples: “Thus it is written that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
“You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:46-48). He has
“committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:19).
The Great Injustice.
‘And when He had said this, one of the officers standing by gave Jesus a blow, saying, “Is that the way You answer the high priest?” ’ (v. 22). This is might attempting to crush right. All is unjust here. It was illegal for the Sandhedrin to pass judgment at night. A day must intervene between the passing of sentence and its execution. Christ was outlawed that He might fulfill the law for us.
‘Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me?” ’ (v. 23).
Men may hate Jesus, and some do, but no one can disprove His sinlessness. Through the centuries, He has hurled His unanswered challenge: “Who of you convinces Me of sin?” John 8:46. Our friends tend to gloss over our sins, but even Jesus’ enemies testify of His sinlessness:
Judas: “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood” (Matt. 22:4).
Pilate: “I find no fault in Him at all” (John 18:38).
Pilate’s wife: “Have nothing to do with that just man” (Matt. 27:19).
A soldier at the cross: “Certainly this was a righteous Man” (Luke 23:47). We also hear the words of the repentant thief: “This Man has done nothing amiss” (Luke 23:41). If they had not spoken, perhaps even the stones would have cried out.
The Great Affirmation.
“Now Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest!” (v. 24). It was Caiaphas who asked the Lord Jesus: “Are You the Christ, the Son of the blessed?” (Mark 14:61). It would seem that all the universes paused in their courses and all creation waited with bated breath to hear His answer. “And Jesus said, I am” (Mark 14:62). In the Word of God the fundamental truth of our faith is the Deity of Christ. He had told Peter that it was upon this rock-truth that He would build His church (Matt. 16:16,18).
In asserting His Deity -the Lord Jesus had said to the Jews: “I and My Father are one” (John 10:31). If He were not God manifest in the flesh, the Jews were right. He would have deserved to be stoned to death for blasphemy (Lev. 24:16). Many who do not believe in Him would say that He was a good man, even the best man who ever lived. But, if He is not God, He is not good. Others acknowledge Him as the world’s greatest teacher, but say that they cannot believe that He is the Son of God. It is psychologically impossible to accept Him as the greatest teacher while rejecting His foundational teaching: His Deity. The night before He died, He said to Philip: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). He is God, or else He is the world’s greatest deceiver, or an insane megalomaniac obsessed with delusions of grandeur. No one, examining the life of the historical Christ, could ever say this about Him. Yet, there is no middle ground, and He demands a decision. With Thomas we stoutly affirm: “My Lord and my
God” (John 20:28). There are some, too, who state that we misunderstand the Lord Jesus — that He never intended that we should believe that He is God and the only Savior of men. You will notice that He fully accepted this statement of Thomas and even pronounced a blessing upon those who would likewise believe even though they had not seen Him with their physical eyes. “Jesus said to him, Thomas, because you have seen you have believed; blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Believed what? That He is our Lord and our God.
The Great Denial.
‘Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They said therefore to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it, and said, “I am not.” One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” Peter therefore denied it again; and immediately a cock crowed’ (vs. 25-27). Peter is a battleground of conflicting emotions. Love would not let him completely run away. Cowardice made him afraid to show his true colors. Those are ominous words which are recorded in verse eighteen: “The servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold, and they warmed themselves; and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.” The warmer his hands got the colder his heart got, for there is no warmth at the world’s fire for the believer. In John 15:19 the Lord Jesus had told His men: “You are not of the world.” He did not say that they should not be in the world. Of course, that is true. But, He said that believers are not of the world. This is a statement of spiritual fact. As new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), our lives can no longer be sustained nor satisfied by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life, which is all that there is in the world (1 John 2:16). A new life-principle enters the life of the believer when he is born-again. Thereafter, no matter how worldly he may chose to be, it will not satisfy him. It will only make him miserable. The Lord Jesus is a jealous God who loves us too much to let us waste our lives in worldliness after we are saved. He will make us uncomfortable until we come back to Him. The only place in all the universe where a true believer can possibly find peace, and joy, and satisfaction is abiding in the center of the will of God. He has made us that way in Christ Jesus.
There are many lessons that we should learn from this sad fall of Peter. We will not throw any stones at Peter. Have you ever walked on water? Peter is far beyond us. Yet,
Peter in Gethsemane is a
warning to us.
Note the steps in his backsliding as outlined in Mark chapter 14:
1) Self-confidence (v. 29). In the spiritual battle, “have no confidence in the flesh” Phil. 3:3. Such confidence produces
2) Proud boasting (v. 21), which will encourage
3) Unwatchfulness (v. 37), leading to
4) Fleshly activity (v. 47), which always fails in spiritual warfare and results in
5) Cowardliness (v. 50), and leads to
6) Following afar off (v. 54) to the company of
7) Ungodly companions (v. 61). In their fellowship he
8) Denied the Lord (v. 68). Finally, being with them, he became like them in
9) Ungodly talk (v. 71). “Evil communications corrupt good manners” (“Bad company ruins good morals.”) 1 Cor. 15:33.
It was here that “the Lord turned and looked on Peter” (Luke 22:61). The loving, faithful Savior met Peter at the last agonizing; step of his backsliding “and Peter went out, and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62). They were precious tears of repentance, bringing forgiveness and restitution.
The Lord Jesus had told Peter: “Satan has desired to have you that he might sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith fail not” (Luke 22:31, 32). Peter’s courage failed, but his faith in the Lord Jesus did not. Why didn’t Jesus pray for Judas? He couldn’t. He had no vital lifelink with Judas. Judas admired Jesus without receiving Him as His Lord and Savior. The lofty character of Jesus, perhaps inspiring Messianic hopes and freedom from Roman bondage, momentarily held under control Judas’ unregenerate nature. Judas had suppression, but not regeneration. Therefore, like hot steam increasingly expanding in a closed pot, he exploded, and what he did, he did quickly (John 13:27). Make sure that you have a vital lifetie with the Lord Jesus. As many as
received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name” (John 1:12). Have you ever received Him into your heart? If not, you are not a child of God: you are not a Christian, a Christ-one.