We shall read two or three short portions of God’s Word in order to bring before you the wonderful contrast to which I am about to direct your thoughts.
Mat_26:57. And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.
It was night, but these wicked men could sit up for this gruel deed, to judge the Lord of glory, and to put the innocent One to shame. They “led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.”
Mat_26:58. But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.
I have heard Peter represented as if he did wrong to follow Christ “afar off.” I think he was the bravest of all the apostles, for scarcely one of them followed Christ at all at that time. Afterwards, John bethought himself, and came into the judgment hall. Peter kept at a distance from his Lord, but he did follow him, and he did go into the high priest’s palace. He “went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.” Peter was right enough in following Christ; it was afterward, when the temptation came, that he fell so grievously.
Mat_26:59-60. Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; but found none:
Because they did not agree, they would not hold together. This is the weakness of falsehood, that it contradicts itself. These men felt that they must have some show of truth-likeness even in condemning Christ, and this they could not get at first even from their false witnesses.
Mat_26:60-61. 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.
Brethren, observe, that this was a little twisting of Christ’s words, but that slight wresting made them as different as possible from what Christ had really said. I suppose that, if you want to know how this twisting or wresting is done, any one of our general elections will give you the most wonderful examples of how everything that any man may say can be twisted to mean the very reverse of what he said. If there is one thing in which English people are expert beyond all others, it is in the art of misquoting, misstating, and misrepresenting. As our Lord was wronged in this fashion, nobody need be surprised if the like should happen unto him. “This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.”
Mat_26:62. And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?
What was the good of answering? What is ever the good of answering when the only evidence brought against one is palpable and willful misrepresentation? So the Saviour was silent; and thus, he not only proved his wisdom, but he also fulfilled that marvellous prophecy of Isaiah, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”
Mat_26:63. 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.
Now came the answer, the good confession that our Lord witnessed before his cruel adversaries.
Mat_26:64. 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.
How that sentence must have come with the vividness of a lightning flash before their faces! What a declaration of power from One who stood there bound before his enemies, apparently helpless, and about to die!
Mat_26:65-68. 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. 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?
Our Lord had told these mockers that they should one day see him coming in the clouds of heaven. Let us read in the Book of the Revelation concerning that great event.
This exposition consisted of readings from Mat_26:57-68. Rev_6:12-17; Rev_19:11-16; Rev_20:11-15; Rev_21:1.