Matt. 26:57-68. November 27, 1910.
On trial! A King on trial before his rebellious subjects! God, the Creator, on trial before His wayward creatures! The One worthy of pre-eminence in heaven on trial before those deserving the meanest station in the lowest hell! Man's arrogancy and self-conceit have swept him up to a dizzy height, which can only mean a more terrible disaster in the day of the visitation of justice.
1. How Not To Follow (vs. 57, 58). While men were leading their unresisting victim to Caiaphas, one of the fleeing disciples, Peter, recalling, perhaps, his recent avowal of loyalty, returned to follow after his Lord. He made two great mistakes. He followed "afar off." Then he went into the palace and "sat with the servants." Following Him afar off is sure to mean a seat in the camp of the enemy. Poor prodigal Peter! These long strides in the wrong direction brought a bitter harvest (Gal. 6:7; Heb. 12:6). How different the story might have been if Peter had prayed instead of sleeping in the garden.
2. On Trial Before the Higher Critics (vs. 59-66). The "whited sepulchres" are proving the presence of the "dead men's bones and all uncleanness" (Matt. 23:27). What a picture for the consideration of those who as "higher critics" would sit in judgment on the Son of God and His Word. The greatest enemies of the truth are often those most expert in the delivery of elegant prayers, who, pretending to be devout servants of God, have unsheathed a poisoned dagger for the heart of His Son. Christ in the court of hypocrisy is confronted by false witnesses. So spotless has been the life of Jesus and so irreproachable His conduct, that the cunning of Satan himself in employing those clever sleuths, the Pharisees, failed to find a single flaw. Two false witnesses came, who misquoted His words concerning His own resurrection, when they construed to apply to the temple of the Jews (John 2 119). Jesus would not even deign to defend Himself against such testimony.
It is remarkable that the only witness which could procure the condemnation of Jesus was a true witness from His own lips. The High Priest, in desperate need of some accusation, asked Him for a plain statement as to whether He was the Christ, the Son of God. Then Jesus, who had already turned His face toward the cross and would not falter in the way, not only declared himself to be the Christ, but predicted His second coming in power and glory. It was enough. The lying lips of Caiaphas brought the charge of blasphemy, and all agreed that He was "guilty of death." Is the wicked decision of these men strange or inconsistent? (Matt. 23:31, 32.) To the blind night is as day and day as night. To the "natural man" (1 Cor. 2:14) Christ is as Beelzebub (Matt. 12:34) and Satan an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). The awful deception continues. Sinners today, for whom the Savior suffered and died, blaspheme that holy name, and put Him on trial at the bar of their own lust, hatred, prejudice, and blind devotion to sin and self.
The Savior's prophecy of His return "on the right hand of power" was not annulled by the cross and tomb. It awaits fulfillment. Satan hates the thought of Christ's coming glory. No wonder the high priest was enraged by the prediction of Jesus. Satan knows that He will soon come and that in the day of His power those whose pride has lifted them above the abode of the eagle to a nesting place among the stars will be brought low before the Great King (Obad. 3, 4; Dan. 7:13, 14; Isa. 13:9, 11; Isa. 28:17, 18).
3. Reviled, But Not Reviling (vs. 67, 68). It is wonderful to know that Jesus suffered for us. It is amazing to know how He suffered for us. Never does the deity of Christ shine brighter than when He bears thus the shameful deeds of men against Himself. Such a victory over the insults of the enemy is greater than a Marathon. Only omnipotence could win so easily. Whence came such grace, such sustaining, enabling, conquering grace? Did He not ask and receive? Did He not knock before the great door of the treasure house swung wide on its hinges? We, too, may be called upon to suffer for welldoing (I Pet. 2:20). How can we follow in the steps of Him "who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not"? Naught but the grace of Christ can suffice in such a time of need (2 Pet. 3:18). Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace in our time of need, pleading our cause and necessity only in Jesus' name (Heb. 4:12; John 14:13).