Friday, August 15, 2014

Jesus’ Arrest And Interrogation

Matthew 26:57-75

“And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.  But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.” (Matthew 26:57-58)

All the disciples fled when they realized Jesus was really going to be arrested and  tried.  Jesus was taken to the private quarters of Annas, Caiaphas’ father-in-law where the leaders had assembled to interrogate him in an effort to find some charge against him.  Like the other disciples, Peter had run away, but he stayed close enough to see what was going on, following as they took Jesus to the High Priests palace.

John 18:15’16 tells us that both Peter and John followed along although the others did not.   Because John was acquainted with some of the people there, he was allowed to enter and was able to get Peter inside the courtyard.  “And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest.   But Peter stood at the door without. 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.”

John was given free access to go in and listen to the interrogation but Peter had to wait in the courtyard, with the servants and outsiders, settling for an occasional report, like waiting in the hospital while surgery is done. 

“Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.” (Matthew 26:59-61)

The leaders had offered a reward to anyone who could provide testimony that would result in Jesus being convicted.   There were a lot of people who were willing to testify for pay, but thir stories were so contradictory they were not believable.  Finally two came who had been there when Jesus drove the businessmen out of the temple and heard his reply when it was demanded where he got the authority to do so.  His response is given in John 2:19-20.  “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.  Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?  But he spake of the temple of his body.”  Though it was misinterpreted, he had said what they claimed. 

"And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?  But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.” (Matthew 26:62-63)

While it proved nothing and really wasn’t relevant, the statement gave the high priest something he could attack like a modern police interrogator trying to entrap a suspect by making it seem more important than it was.  Jesus refused to be baited into responding and trying to defend what he had said.  The high priest demanded the he tell them whether he was the Messiah, the son of God or not, kind of like the police interrogator springing a surprise question in an effort to catch the suspect off guard.  Without other evidence, prosecutors risk having the charges dismissed when such an approach is used today.

“Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:64)

Jesus said the High Priest was the one making the accusations.  He then went on to say that one day in the future they would see the messiah sitting on God’s throne and coming in power and would know who it was.   He actually didn’t either confirm or deny that he was the Messiah, although the high Priest interpreted what he said as being confirmation.

“Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.  What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.” (Matthew 26:65-66)

They were determined to convict Jesus and were only looking for something that sounded bad to accuse him of, much like many of the political ads we see today.  They were no more concerned with whether the claims were true than political strategists today as long as it reduced his support.  They insisted he deserved to be executed.  In their minds they were doing nothing more than playing political hardball. 

“Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?” (Matthew 26:67-68)

With him at their mercy, the leaders began to make fun of and abuse Jesus, asking what they considered impossible questions to answer in an effort to make him look inferior.   It was little different than what modern news reporters do to candidates they oppose and reveals the wickedness of our modern political system.

“Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.  But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.” (Matthew 26:69-70)

It was a cold night and they had built some fires for warmth.  One of the servant girls saw Peter standing by the fire and remembered seeing him with Jesus.  Fearing reprisals, Peter said he didn’t know what she was talking about.  Hoping to avoid notice, he moved out to a fire near one of the porches or gazebos. 

“And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.  And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.” (Matthew 26:71-72)

Another servant girl recognized Peter at the second fire and told the people that he had been with Jesus.  He was even more emphatic the second time, taking an oath that he didn’t even know the Lord and for a time the issue was dropped.   People seemed to accept his claim.

“And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee.  Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.” (Matthew 26:73-74)

After a while several of the people told Peter they knew he was one of Jesus’ disciples from the way he talked.  Even his language and attitude was different than the other people there.  Peter began to curse and swear using the same kind of language in an attempt to convince them he wasn’t a Christian. 

“And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26:75)

Just as soon as Peter started to convince them he didn’t know Jesus, the rooster crowed and Peter remembered how he had boasted he would never deny the Lord, even if all the others did, and that Jesus had said he would deny the Lord three times before the rooster crowed.  It was humiliating to realize that he was not nearly as strong as he thought.

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