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whereof to accuse him. To such questions Jesus replies with feeling yet with firmness.
20. Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world, I ever taught in the synagogue and in the temple, whither all * the Jews resort, and in secret have I said nothing.
That is, nothing contrary to what I have taught jn public: for he often taught his disciples, and explained things to them, in private.
21. Why askest thou me? Ask them which heard me what I have said unto them; behold they know what I have said.
Jesus directs the high priest to inquire of those who heard him, what he taught, since they could give him the fullest information upon the subject, as he had used no concealment or disguise, but communicated his doctrine without reserve, in the most public places.
22. And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so?
23. Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, that is, disrespectfully, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?
Jesus remonstrated against the outrage which he had received, under pretence of punishing disrespect
* See Griesbach.
ful language to the high priest, by saying that if he had answered amiss, ne might have been arraigned for that offence, and obliged either to make an apology, or submit to such punishment as the law enjoined. But for a private individual to take upon himself, without authority, to punish in this manner a supposed offence, was contrary to every principle of justice.
The conduct of Jesus upon this occasion shows that the precept which he delivered in the sermon upon the mount, Matt. v. 39, "Resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also," was not intended to be taken literally, and that it means no more than that Christians, when they are ill used, should not be revengeful, and should rather bear a slight injury than seek redress, even by such methods as the law prescribes. For -when smitten on one cheek, instead of turning to the officer -the other, Jesus remonstrates with him on the injury committed.
24. Annas* had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest.
It is supposed by many that this verse, which seems to have no connection with this part of the jiarrative, is out of its place, and that it originally stood after the thirteenth verse, where we are told that they led Jesus to Annas first.
25. And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not.
Peter still persists in his denial, hoping that he should thereby put a stop to all further questions and escape detection; but they are renewed.
See Gricsbach. Ow, tliertfore, it omitted in many manuscripts.
26. One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him?
Here is evidence of his relation to Jesus, which one might have thought no man could resist; for it is the testimony of one who had seen him smite with the sword a kinsman, who came to apprehend Jesus; an act which no one would perform but a friend and adherent; but even this evidence Peter can withstand.
27. Peter then denied again; and
immediately the cock crew.
That is, as has been already explained, the trumpet which was used to announce the hour of the morning called the cock-crowing, was sounded. This is mentioned to show that the prediction of Jesus respecting Peter's denial was fulfilled.
1. These few verses furnish us with a striking example of the fortitude and composure of our master in circumstances of extreme difficulty. Although standing before the high priest, the supreme public officer among the Jews, who was accompanied on such an occasion with all the formalities of his office; although in a court of justice, deserted by his friends and encircled on every side by enemies; he is not depressed or overawed, but discovers the utmost presence of mind. When improper questions are proposed, he refuses to answer them, and shows how unreasonable they are. When he receives a violent outrage, he makes no other return than to remonstrate calmly with the person by whom it was committed. These are circumstances which show a mind perfectly at ease, and conscious of its own innocence and dignity. Very different from this would have been his conduct had he been an impostor: we should have found him either overwhelmed with the sense of his misfortunes, or assuming an uncommon tone of arrogance from desperation; either abject or insolent. Neither of these characters belonged to Jesus; on the contrary, he displayed throughout his examination and trial that firmness which never fails to accompany virtue and integrity.
2. The conduct of Peter discovers much weakness and guilt: he who a few hours ago declared that he was ready to follow his master whithersoever he went, and to die with him; who attacked a whole band of soldiers that came to apprehend him, who followed him to the palace of the high priest, when leave had been procured him to depart without molestation; this man, who discovers so many marks of invincible courage, denies that he knew his master, upon the charge of a female, not only once but a second and a third time.
Let the most resolute Christian learn hence the folly of exposing himself to unnecessary trials: his imagined courage may forsake him in the hour of danger, and leave him stript of his virtue and his honour. Presumption is near akin to apostacy: our safety and wisdom lie in fleeing from temptation. We see how naturally vice is progressive. One deviation from the path of rectitude leads to many more, and the offender knows not where he shall stop. This is particularly the case with the vice of which Peter was guilty. One falsehood must be defended by another, and that by a third, and so on, until the transgressor has passed through a long succession of crimes. Let him, therefore, who dreads the idea of incurring guilt, be careful to avoid the first offence.
John Xviii. 28. to the end.
In the last portion of this history the writer has given us some particulars of the examination and trial of Jesus before the high priest; but he has not recorded his condemnation, probably because it was re« lated sufficiently at length in the other evangelists. He informs us now, however, that he is brought before Pilate the Roman governor, which was the consequence of his condemnation before the high priest and Jewish Sanhedrim; and relates to what took place there.
28. Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment, rather, " the prcetorium^ the name given to Pilate's house; and it was early, and they themselves went not into the praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the passover.
As intercourse with Gentiles was forbidden to the Jews, the defilement here dreaded was that of being under the roof and near the person of a Roman, which, according to their apprehension, would render them impure, and unfit for joining in any of the ceremonies of religion. The feast for which they wished to preserve themselves pure was probably not the eating of paschal lamb; for that had taken place the preceding evening; but some sacrifices which accompanied it, which, however, went under the general name of the passover. - As they were persons of distinction among the Jews who waited upon the governor at this time, being members of the Sanhedrim, he so far accommodated himself to their superstitious notions as to go out of his palace to hear their accusation of the prisoner.
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