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or the rest should believe in the Lord, in case He should say that He is the Christ. By no means ! But this is the very confession they desire to hear Him make, thinking that then they could convict Him without difficulty. And Christ understands them well enough; but this does not induce Him to deny who He is. He answers : “Thou hast said,” that is, just as thou hast said, I am the Christ And what is still more, it shall only be a little while yet and ye shall "see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power;" that is, after these days I shall not need to suffer any more, but, in my glorified body, shall show that I am not only a man, as you regard me, but also the almighty Son of God, who rules over all, and on the judgment day I shall come in the clouds of heaven and judge the quick and the dead.
Behold, now the high priest has heard the glorious, excellent confession which tells him what he should believe concerning this man, whom he and others had prepared themselves to entrap, and whom they were resolved on killing. Let us see what use the high priest makes of this confession. Matthew tells us that he “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?”
In this, the first trial of our blessed Lord Jesus, which took place in the house of Caiaphas, He was declared a heretic and blasphemer. This gluts the high priestly maw; and now it only remains to have some worldly accusation brought against Christ before Pilate, so that His death might be decreed. While each one privately deliberates on
this, our innocent Lord Jesus is made to submit to their scorn; He must suffer them to spit in His holy face, and Himself to be buffeted, derided, smitten and mocked. For they regard such treatment altogether just, because Christ has been pronounced a heretic and blasphemer. They make a jest of His saying that He is the Christ. One strikes Him on this side, another on that. "Aha! You are the Christ, are you," they say, “then, pray, prophesy unto us, who is he that smote Thee?"
But let us diligently mark whether the Gospel does not fare in the same way to-day. The Papists question us, and desire to know our doctrine. And then, when we with the greatest simplicity and honesty confess our doctrine, as was done at Augsburg, at Ratisbon, and at imperial diets in other places, the mighty clamor rises : Heretics, heretics ! All are busy then at heaping upon the poor Christians whatever ignominy, contempt, mockery and injury they can rally. They cry: It is Evangelical you are, is it? Is this your Gospel ? Just wait, we will give you a little of the Gospel ? And so they have gone to work and inflicted a most atrocious reproduction of the Passion-History upon the pious Christians of Germany, Italy, France and England.
It is, therefore, important that we carefully study this priestly Processum Juris. For then, in case we are brought before a similar tribunal, we can follow the example of our Lord Jesus, learning of Him patience, and deriving from Him true consolation. And, should we be compelled to suffer with Him for the sake of His Word, we can hope also to live with Him, and with Him to be lifted to glory. May God grant this to us all. Amen.
PETER THRICE DENIES THE LORD JESUS IN THE
House of CAIAPHAS.
Matt. 26, 69–75. Now Peter sat without in the palace : and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But be denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou savest. 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
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
And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he weut out, and wept bitterly. Chis is a useful narrative, for which reason it
is related by each of the four Evangelists. It is useful chiefly in two respects. First, it teaches us to cherish humility and avoid presumption ; for see how easily Peter, who would previously have gladly imperiled his body and his life for the Lord Jesus, is brought to such a terrible fall. And secondly, it teaches us how we may regain grace, after we have fallen into sin; for Peter furnishes us with a pleasing example of Christian repentance, showing what repentance really is, and how we must be freed from sin. But let us first relate the history.
When Jesus was taken captive in the garden and led away, first to Annas, father-in-law to Caiaphas, and from Annas to the high priest Caiaphas, John, as he himself writes, followed from afar and entered
the house of Caiaphas, in which he was acquainted, bringing Peter in with him. The latter sat down with the servants in the house and warmed himself at the fire. Then a damsel asked him whether he was a disciple of the captive Jesus. He vehemently denied that he was. The cock then crew for the first time. Upon this, as Matthew and Mark relate, Peter went away from the fire, out into the porch, where he was encountered in a similar way by a maid, who began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them. Luke tells us that it was a man who said this of Peter. It needs merely be remembered here that, after the maid had begun to speak about Peter, the rest also expressed their opinions and chimed in with the maid. Peter then a second time denied. And finally, about the space of one hour after, as we are informed by Luke, he was met by one of the servants of the high priest, who, according to John, was a kinsman to him whose ear Peter cut off. He attacks Peter a little more severely than the rest, publicly saying that he had seen him in the garden with Jesus. Peter would not keep silent to this accusation, for he feared that it would endanger his life. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man, of whom ye speak. Now the Lord turns and casts upon Peter a look which so penetrates his soul, that he now perceives what he has done; and he
goes out of Caiaphas' palace and weeps bitterly. This is about the whole of the occurrence in order, as related by the four Evangelists.
Here we should, in the first place, as stated in the beginning, learn from the example of pious Peter to recognize our weakness, so that we may refrain
from putting absolute confidence in other people or in ourselves. For our hearts are so entirely faint and fickle that they change every hour, as the Lord says in the 2. chapter of John. Who in the world would have expected such instability and feebleness in Peter! When the Lord, Luke 22., cautioned him, saying, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat, how courageous was he not, how bold and undismayed! “Lord,” said he, “I am ready to go with Thee, both into prison, and to death.” And when the Lord continued to admonish him, telling him not to be so foolhardy, and that before the cock would crow twice he should have denied Him thrice, we see that Peter thought it all a fable. He imagined this impossible, and intended to adhere to and defend the Lord at the risk of his own life. And his actions, indeed, show this to have been his intention. For in the hour of greatest peril, when the Jews were taking captive the Lord in the garden, Peter was the first to draw his sword, and he slashed into the mob, notwithstanding that he and only one other armed person opposed so many who were well equipped. Now who would have believed that one so valiant, who so faithfully stands by his Master, would so soon afterwards shamefully betray Him? In the garden no one attempted to hurt Peter and his fellow disciples, for the Lord's "Let these go” protected them. And especially here in the house of Caiaphas no one desires to injure them. But when, altogether incidentally, and perhaps through sympathy, the damsel that kept the door said unto Peter: “Art not thou also one of this man's disciples ?” his courage failed him, and he feared that he would