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from his sleep, or at least from his bed, by the sudden noise. Perhaps he was the owner, or the son of the owner, of the garden of olives to which our Lord afterwards retired; and thus knew Jesus well. At all events it is clear that his love for Him was great, or he would not have followed Him now, as he was covered with nothing but the linen cloth which he had hurriedly “cast about his naked body.” What a picture of anxiety and fear we have before us! We seem to see this youth thus wrapped up, stealing after the soldiers and the people in that state of mind that will not suffer us to leave one we love who is in mortal danger, even though we know that we cannot help him. Then the sudden turning round of some of the guards to seize him!--we almost seem to hear the rush he made, as leaving his only covering in their hands, he fled away naked, and escaped through the darkness of the night.
Prayer. O God of love, support our weakness, for what are we without Thee? Our best affections cannot sustain us. Mortal fear may overcome us. We pray that we enter not into temptation, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.
John xviii. 12, 13. “ Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, and led him away to Annas first; for he was father-in-law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.” This Annas had himself been high priest, and had been displaced by the Roman Emperor, whose policy it was to destroy the power of the office by frequent changes; one of his sons bad been, and now his son-in-law Caiaphas actually was, high priest, therefore we may suppose him to have had great influence in Jerusalem, and to have been all-powerful among those “who took counsel together against Jesus, to put him to death."* It had probably been settled before hand, that immediately upon the arrest of Jesus, He was to be taken to the palace of Annas, till the sanhedrim or grand council of the Jews had time to assemble at the palace of Caiaphas, which they had the power of doing in cases requiring immediate attention. St. John adds,
Verse 14. “Now Caiaphas was he which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.”
We come now to that part of the history of the apostle Peter which remains, while the world lasts, a warning to the people of God. “Let him who thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” He who is strong in his own strength, who is certain of his own constancy, is the very one who should not, of his own will, enter into temptation. We have read how earnestly Peter had declared that he was ready to go with his Lord to prison and to death; we have seen how in the face of the soldiers and the multitude he had with his sword defended his Master. His first blow had been reproved by Him; and he had been commanded to put up his sword, or no doubt he would have fought for Him to the death. And thus is it with man,—while he can do any thing he is, as it were, able for every thing; that is the action of his will; but the action of faith is a harder and more trying matter. To follow in silent
* The influence of this family must have been immense, for not only had Annas or Ananus been himself High Priest, “but four of his sons either had been, or were afterwards elected to that high dignity, now filled by his son-inlaw Caiaphas."-See Milman, vol. i. p. 334.
submission, to feel that we can do nothing, 'and yet be ready to endure all things; this is the strength that belongs not to the nature of men, and must be sought from God. He will abundantly give it; and it is of His merciful goodness that He shows us how entirely we are without it. It was this bitter lesson Peter had now to learn, before he was himself sent forth to win the world to the cross of Christ.
When the Apostles saw their Lord, instead of exerting His power to deliver Himself out of the hands of His enemies, or suffering them to defend Him, quietly give Himself up; when they beheld Him whom they had fondly hoped to see the King of Israel, whom they believed to be the Son of God, bound, and led away like a common criminal, for a moment all seemed to be at an end. Panic-struck, they fled, and forsook Him, every one.
This is the weakness of human nature. In spite of man's boasted courage, fear may, in a moment, upset his best resolves. (Oh! we have great need to watch and pray, lest we too be tempted.) But where a real love, a true faith is in the heart, fear cannot keep the mastery. How often has this been seen! Never more strongly than in the case of the Apostles. They indeed forsook their Lord in his hour of deep distress, but He forsook not them ; His power was with them still—they were still His disciples,* His brethren. We shall read that they gathered round Him again ; and even now the flight of two of them was but for a moment; Peter and another . disciple, who is believed to have been St. John, turned and followed the crowd who were hurrying Jesus away. They followed, even to the palace of the high-priest, with whom it appears that one of them was sufficiently acquainted not only to venture in himself, but also to take in his fellow-disciple. It is written
Verses 15, 16. “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."
* Mark xvi. 7.
Matthew xxviii. 10.
Among the Jews it was a general custom to have women instead of men to open the doors to those who went in and out. Who this damsel was, who, at the request of John, let Peter into the court of the high priest's palace, we know not; but it seems probable that she had seen Jesus when surrounded by His disciples, and something in Peter's appearance reminded her of it, for she said to him
Verse 17. “Art thou not also one of his disciples ?” Taken by surprize, and only feeling that his object was to remain unknown, he immediately replied
Verse 17. “I am not."
No doubt he was glad to pass on without any further questions. He would be less likely to be noticed among a crowd, than if he kept apart ; so he joined himself to the many that were there.
Verse 18. “And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold : and they warmed themselves : and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself."
Peter had a lesson to learn ; his self-confident spirit was this night to be humbled ; and he could not be hid, “ as he sat by the fire " "without in the palace,” that is, in the outer court within the gate.
MARK xiv. 66-68. “There cometh one of the maids of the high priest. And when she saw Peter warming himself, she earnestly looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch ; and the cock crew."
Did he hear its warning voice? He did, for he thought of it afterwards; but now the confusion of his mind is so great that he thinks only of remaining unnoticed. It is a vain effort, the eye of God is upon him—his lesson must be learnt,-and every creature is made to teach him; men and maids, though they know it not, are working out the spiritual education of the great Apostle; even the voice of the cock calling to his mates in the first hour of the coming day, is made to preach to him who was to teach the world.
Verse 70. “And a little after, (about the space of one hour after, LUKE xxii. 59.) they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilean, and thy speech agreeth thereto."
John xviii. 26. “And 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 ?"
MARK xiv. 71, 72. “But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak. And the second time the cock crew. (LUKE xxii. 61. "And the Lord turned and looked upon Peter.") And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow twice thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.”
Oh that look! It spoke to Peter's heart. All the Saviour's love, all the memories it awoke, gushed up within him. The rough words of the servants and the dangers of the bour had brought back the old habits of the fisherman of Galilee. At