The Preparation for, and the Celebration of, the Passover. Luke 22, 1-23.

The Jewish leaders and Judas: V. 1. Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. V. 2. And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill Him; for they feared the people. V. 3. Then entered Satan into Judas, surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the Twelve. V. 4. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains how he might betray Him unto them. V. 5. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. V. 6. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray Him unto them in the absence of the multitude. Originally, the day of the Passover proper had been distinguished from the Days of Unleavened Bread, but in the course of time the names were used without discrimination, the entire 14th of Nisan being reckoned with the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Passover merged into the festival following, and the two were regarded as one. This festival was now at hand; for its celebration the pilgrims had been thronging to Jerusalem for some time past. With every day the hatred of the chief priests and scribes against Jesus had increased. On Tuesday they would gladly have laid murderous hands upon Him, being detained only by their fear of the people. And by Wednesday morning they had determined that He must be put out of the way, that He must die. Yet their fear of the people, who were hanging upon every word that Jesus uttered, restrained them from open acts of violence. They concluded that it would be best not to take the last decisive step before the feast, but to seize the first favorable opportunity afterwards, after the majority or all of the pilgrims would have returned to their homes. Cp. Mark 14, 2; Matt. 26, 5. In the mean time they received the promise of assistance from an unexpected quarter. For Satan had entered into Judas, who was called Iscariot. Although this man was one of the Twelve, he had opened his heart to the love of money, he had given way to covetousness, he had become a thief, he had rejected all the earnest admonitions which the Lord had addressed to him during the last days. So fully had the devil of avarice taken possession of his heart that he deliberately went away from the rest and had a conference with the chief priests and the leaders, the heads of the Temple watches. He entered into negotiations with them, haggling with them after the fashion of the avaricious. About the manner of the betrayal he was fairly certain, needing only the time and the place. But to Judas the chief incentive and reward was the most important point. Even in their joy over the probable early success of their schemes the chief priests did not overlook the weakness of covetousness. They held out before him, as the price of the betrayal, the silver, the usual price of a slave. And so Judas bound himself to these enemies of his Lord with his promise, and from that hour watched every opportunity for a good chance to deliver Christ to them without the people, at a time and under circumstances when there would be no danger of interference on the part of the pilgrim crowds. Note: Judas is a type of many a Christian that permits the devil to take hold of his heart to fill it with covetousness. It is a sad and miserable price for which many confessors of Jesus have betrayed their Lord, a better-paying position, greater honor before men, -the evanescent and ephemeral favor of the world. Woe unto those that follow Judas!

The preparations for the Passover meal: V. 7. Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. V. 8. And He sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the Passover that we may eat. V. 9. And they said unto Him, Where wilt Thou that we prepare? V. 10. And He said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he goeth in. V. 11. And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guest-chamber where I shall eat the Passover with My disciples? V. 12. And he shall show you a large upper room furnished; there make ready. It had been the custom of the Lord, as a member of the Jewish Church, to celebrate the Passover regularly. When therefore the day came, on the evening of which the Passover meal was held, the disciples came to Jesus with the question whether they should do as they were accustomed to do in the years gone by. Jesus commissioned two of His disciples, Peter and John, to act as His representatives in preparing everything for the meal to be held on that Thursday evening. Upon their inquiry as to the place where they should prepare, He gave them explicit directions. Cp. Matt. 26, 17-19; Mark 14, 12-16. Coming into the city from Bethany, very likely through the Sheep Gate, they would meet a man coming toward them bearing a vessel, a jug, or pitcher, of water; him they should follow to the house into which he would enter. To the master of that house they should make known their wants, asking him for the location of the guest-chamber, the dining-room, where He might eat the Passover-meal with His disciples. The man would thereupon show them an upper room, a flight of stairs up, all furnished with sofas and pillows for such a meal: there they should prepare. The owner of this house is generally assumed to have been a friend, a believer, a disciple of Jesus. Both the authority of Jesus and His divine omniscience are here brought out.

The Passover meal: V. 13. And they went and found as He had said unto them; and they made ready the Passover. V. 14. And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. V. 15. And He said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; V. 16. for I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. V. 17. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves; V. 18. for I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine unt1 the kingdom of God shall come. Just as Jesus had told them by His divine omniscience, the disciples found everything, and so could prepare the food for the Passover meal. They bought a lamb whose condition complied with the requirements of the Law. After the c1ose of the evening service they took it up to the Temple, where all the priests were on duty. The man who represented the household slaughtered the animal himself, while a priest caught the blood and passed it on to be sprinkled against the altar of burnt offering. All the ceremonies of the Temple were carried on during the singing of the great Hallel. The two disciples then provided also the necessary unleavened bread, the bitter herbs, and the reddish-brown sauce known as charoseth, which was to remind the people of the bricks of Egypt. Having gotten everything in order, they either returned to Bethany, or, more probably, waited for the rest of the company to come, thus making a total number of twelve apostles, to which number must be added Jesus Himself. He, the Lord, had prepared everything for His Buffering and death. The evil counsel of the Jews would never have been successful if He had not agreed thereto. Not the time that they had deemed expedient, but the day that He had chosen would bring His death. At the appointed hour in the evening, the time when the Passover meal was eaten according to Jewish custom, Jesus took His position on the sofa, He reclined at the table after the Oriental custom which had been accepted by the Jews, and His disciples, the twelve apostles, with Him. His very first words showed that He was deeply moved. He had desired most earnestly, He had longed with a great longing, to eat this Passover meal with them before His great Passion. For He would celebrate no more festival meals with them until the perfection of the kingdom of God would be attained.. He then spoke the customary blessing upon the cup of wine, which was drunk by all the partakers of the meal, and gave it to them with the instruction that they should pass it along and all partake of it, that they should divide it among themselves. And here He declared just as solemnly that He would not drink with them of the fruit of the vine, as the Passover wine was called, until the kingdom of God would come, until the revelation of the Kingdom of Glory, when the Church Triumphant will enter upon its eternal feast. The Passover meal, which the Jews celebrated in commemoration of the deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, incidentally was a type of the eternal meal of joy and bliss in heaven, where the Lord will feed them that are His with heavenly manna and have them drink of the river of His pleasures. Christ, as the true Passover Lamb, was now about to be brought to the slaughter and thereby gain for all sinners the joys of eternal life. For that reason He had the great longing to eat this Passover meal with His disciples, because it introduces His suffering and death. As the Savior of sinners He was consumed with eagerness to earn salvation for all sinners. Cp. Matt. 26, 29; Mark 14, 25.

The institution of the Lord's Supper: V. 19. And He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is My body, which is given for you; this do in remembrance of Me. V. 20. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you. The meal proper was drawing to a close. The Lord had fulfilled the obligations and responsibilities of the old law and its worship. He had observed the sacrament of the Old Testament for the last time. But now Jesus instituted anew and wonderful meal, in which the glorious fruit of His suffering was bequeathed to His disciples and all believers of the New Testament. While they were still at the table, the Lord took some of the bread which had remained, consecrated it with a prayer of thanksgiving, broke it, and gave it to them with the words: This is My body, which is given for you; this do for My remembrance. In going from one to the other, He varied the formula, but the content, the substance of His words, remained the same. Then He took the cup, very likely the third cup of the Passover meal, the cup of thanksgiving, saying: This cup is the new covenant, or testament, in My blood, which is shed for you. In and through the blood of the Savior the New Testament is established. He has removed the wall of separation between the holy, righteous God and the sinful world by the shedding of His blood, and wants to give the glorious benefits of His atonement to all that believe on Him, in the Sacrament. Through the eating and drinking of His body and blood the forgiveness of sins is assured, sealed to the believers. We Christians believe and confess that the Sacrament of the Altar is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and to drink, instituted by Christ Himself. Our reason indeed cannot understand how the miracle is possible; it is inclined to believe either in the transubstantiation of the Catholics, according to which the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ, or in the reasonable explanation of the Reformed churches, according to which the body and blood of Christ are not at all present, but are merely pictured symbolically. But the words of Christ are clear and true, and we know from Scriptures that the body of Christ, the vessel of His deity, even in the day's of His humiliation, in addition to the circumscribed existence, had a higher, supersensual being, John 3, 13, and that the exalted Christ, who has ascended to the right hand of God, is not confined to one certain place in heaven, but as the God-man has the fullness that filleth all in all, Eph. 1, 23. Therefore we take our reason captive under the obedience of Christ and do not rack our brains over the difficulty, but rather thank the Lord for the blessing of this Sacrament, out of which we gain ever again the certainty of the forgiveness of sins.

The traitor at the table: V. 21. But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth Me is with Me on the table. V. 22. And truly the Son of Man goeth as it was determined; but woe unto the man by whom He is betrayed! V. 23. And they began to enquire among themselves which of them it was that should do this thing. Cp. Matt. 26, 1-25; Mark 14, 18-21. Jesus had just established and instituted the meal of His grace and kindness and salvation. But during all this time His betrayer also had his hand on the same table, the traitor had the effrontery to keep his position in the midst of the Twelve, known, in his boundless depravity, to the Lord alone. Even now the Lord gives him a warning; solemn, searching. The course of the Son of Man, the way in which He should fulfill the eternal counsel of God, had been arranged in all details: He must carry out this plan to its fulfilment. But it would be a sorry day and hour for him that was guilty of the terrible sin of the betrayal, of this basest, most heinous sin. Judas had better take another thought before it would be too late! The other disciples, indeed, were now filled with consternation and horror. They began earnestly to inquire and to search for him in their midst that would commit, that had determined within himself to perpetrate this unholy deed. Only Judas was so filled with Satan's wiles and power that it made little or no impression upon him. He may have thought that the Lord would have no difficulty in gaining His liberty, even if He should be in the hands of His enemies. That is a blindness, a hardening of the heart that plunges into everlasting damnation.

A Lesson on Humility. Luke 22, 24-30.

The dispute about rank: V. 24. And there was also a strife among them which of them should be accounted the greatest. V. 25. And He said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. V. 26. But ye shall not be so; but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. V. 27. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? Is not he that sitteth at meat? But I am among you as he that serveth. V. 28. Ye are they which have continued with Me in My temptations. V. 29. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as My Father hath appointed unto Me, V. 30. that ye may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus had just told the apostles, in connection with the announcement of His betrayer, that He was going away, and they had begun a conversation upon the subject of the possible betrayer, incidentally, however, taking reference to a possible successor in the place of the Master. And before they were aware of it, They were in the midst of an altercation, a contention, a spirited debate as to who of them made the impression of being the greatest. Cp. chap. 9, 46. The thoughts of the disciples were evidently linked very firmly to this life; it was impossible for them to realize the situation as it really was. So Jesus again, with His infinite patience, gave them a lesson on humility, by referring once more to the great paradox of the kingdom of God. It is true, of course, that the kings of the heathen lord it over them, and that those that exert their authority over them are called their benefactors. Such conditions obtain in the governments of this world. But there is a big difference in the method of handling matters and doing work in the countries of the world, in the State, and that of ruling the Church. Emphatically Jesus says: You, however, not so. The greatest among them, the one upon whom the honor might naturally fall, should become so that he does not want to rank above the youngest, and the leader should distinguish himself by the humblest service. To become more humble from day to day they should regard as an elevation, and love active in service as the sum of their greatness. The Lord exemplifies this by a reference to Himself. If one of two persons is reclining at the table in the enjoyment of the meal, and the other is performing the work of a servant in washing his feet or in waiting upon his wants, the former is the greater. And Jesus, by the act of washing the disciples' feet, had humbled Himself to do the lowest service for them. This fact, however, in no way changed the actual condition of things, namely, that He was the greatest among them; His action, in fact, established His position as their superior. Now, after having taught His disciples true humility, He also gives them the comforting, cheering news of their future elevation. They had, at least in part, shared His lowliness, they had persistently adhered to Him in the midst of all His persecutions, when Satan and His enemies among the Jews had tried constantly to turn Him from the path of duty. Jesus here formally made a contract with them, notified them of their appointment, even as His Father had appointed to Him the Kingdom. This disposition the Lord now transmits to His apostles, solemnly making them heirs of the blessings which had been His by the fact of His eternal Sonship. They should eat and drink at His table in His kingdom, they should be partakers of all His glory. And He confers upon them the added honor that they should sit as judges with Him, occupying thrones and judging the twelve tribes of Israel, the sum total of all the believers, the true children of the Kingdom. It will be the pleasure and the honor of the apostles to welcome into the eternal kingdom and to transmit to the believers that have been faithful to the end the joyful announcement of everlasting freedom. Cp. Matt. 19, 28.

The Walk to Gethsemane and the Agony. Luke 22, 31-53.

The warning to Simon: V. 31. And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat; V. 32. but I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not. And when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. V. 33. And he said unto Him, Lord, I am ready to go with Thee both into prison and to death. V. 34. And He said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest Me. Jesus had now left the upper room of the supper and was probably on His way to Gethsemane with His disciples. On the way a conversation was begun, in the course of which the Lord gave Peter this emphatic warning. Twice He calls him Simon, his former name, to indicate even in that way the seriousness of the situation. He puts all the affection of His Savior's love and yet enough distress into His tunnel to make Peter feel the solemnity. Satan had eagerly and earnestly sought them all; he was not satisfied with Judas, but desired other conquests. Even as the wheat, after the first treading out, was winnowed and then shaken in a sieve, to separate the grain from the chaff, just as in the modern fanning-machine, so Satan would take hold of the disciples to sift them by means of afflictions and various temptations. He would make use of God's permission to the very limit. The Passion of the Lord would bring trial, fear, and terror also upon them, and then the devil would make every attempt to take their faith out of their hearts. All disciples of Christ should remember that in days of trouble and distress their adversary, the devil, will take advantage of the fact and will attempt to devour them. And just in the case of Simon the devil succeeded; for a very little while he conquered. But the Lord adds at once that He has made him the special object of earnest prayer, in order that his faith, which he would lose in the denial, would not be taken away, would not be lost, permanently. But when Peter has then turned from his great sin, he should strengthen his brethren, the other disciples, making them firm in faith and love. Peter, with his usual impetuous rashness, would not have the words of the Master true; he simply would not admit that he, who had received such evidences of the Savior's love and felt himself so secure, should prove unfaithful. He assured Jesus: Lord, with Thee ready am I to go even into prison and into death. He protected his readiness repeatedly, foolishly depending upon his own strength. But Jesus told him, in turn, that the cock would not crow, the regular time of cock-crowing would not come, Mark 13, 35, before he had denied his Master three times. And his denial would be an absolute one, a declining of even personal knowledge of Him. But Peter did not heed the warning. If any Christian depends upon his own strength and ability, he is on the surest way to deny his Savior. Only by constant humility and ceaseless, trustful prayer for the sustaining strength of God can one hope to remain faithful to the end.

The seriousness of the coming danger: V. 35. And He said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything? And they said, Nothing. V. 36. Then said He unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, 1et him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. V. 37. For I say unto you that this that is written must yet be accomplished in Me, And He was reckoned among the transgressors; for the things concerning Me have an end. V. 38. And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And He said unto them, It is enough. This section is not a digression, but has a very close connection with the foregoing. It was on account of the constant watchfulness and solicitude of the Lord that His disciples had been protected so well; and it was probably just for this reason that Peter had grown so overconfident. About this faithfulness and loving care He now asks the apostles, whether, on any of their trips, when He had sent them off without purse and beggar's collecting sack and heavy sandals, they had ever been in want of anything. Upon which they answered, in all truthfulness, that they had never lacked anything. He had taken care of them at all times, and their trust had not been in vain. Note: The care of the Lord accompanies His servants even today, sustaining and upholding them amidst the difficulties of their work: a promise full of consolation and comfort. But now the Lord frankly tells His disciples that in the future His physical presence and care would no longer accompany them; they would have to learn to shift for themselves. This the Lord says to them in figurative language, telling them that he who had a purse should be sure to take it, also he that had a beggar's sack; and as for a sword, they might find it to their advantage to sell their upper garment, however indispensable this might seem, in order to buy one. The disciples, after the removal of their Lord, would not find the same kind reception as before; they would have to care for their means of livelihood; they would have to expect bitter enmity. Days of want, trouble, and severe trials and battles were coming, and they should be prepared for them. As for Him, He is under obligation to the eternal plan of God for the salvation of men. In Him the word of Isaiah, 53, 12, would be fulfilled, as well as all the other prophecies. His life and work, His death and resurrection, represent the end of Old Testament prophecy; His fate is fixed beyond recall. The disciples, as usual, did not grasp the real meaning of Jesus, but were under the impression that He was referring to physical fighting. So they showed Him two swords which they had procured in some way or had kept from former years. His only remark upon this was: It is enough. It sounds weary and spiritless, almost disgusted over the lack of understanding shown even now. For the end I have in view more than enough; but also enough of misunderstanding, disenchantment, speech, teaching, and life generally.”

The agony in Gethsemane: V. 39. And He came out and went, as He was wont, to the Mount of Olives; and His disciples also followed Him. V. 40. And when He was at the place, He said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. V. 41. And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down and prayed, V. 42. saying, Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done. V. 43. And there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him. V. 44. And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. V. 45. And when He rose up from prayer and was come to His disciples, He found them sleeping for sorrow, V. 46. and said unto them, Why sleep ye? Rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. Jesus had the habit of going over to Mount Olivet often, to a certain garden called Gethsemane, the place of the oil-press, and on this fine moonlight night, when only the depths of the Kidron Valley were in shadow, He could very profitably spend a few hours in prayer. His disciples, therefore, saw nothing strange in His action, but followed Him as usual. It is probable that they did not even think it strange when He chose three of their number as His companions for a walk into the farther recesses of the garden, for that also had happened before. But Jesus did all this with full understanding of all that was going to happen. To His closest friends He said, in the interior of the garden, that they should pray in order not to enter into temptation. Satan was even then gathering his forces, marshaling all the forces of darkness to make one last attempt against the work of atonement. The fear of death had fallen upon the Lord, of temporal, spiritual, and eternal death. His terror became greater with every moment. He withdrew, He tore Himself away from His three disciples in the intensity of His soul's suffering, to a distance of about a stone's throw; He threw Himself down upon His knees in an imploring attitude; He begged and pleaded with His heavenly Father: If Thou wilt, take away this cup, let it pass away on one side of Me. That bitter cup which was now held out to Him, the prospect of the cruel tortures on the cross and of the death for the sins of the whole world, that seemed too much for Him at this time. Jesus was a true, natural man, and human nature resists and struggles against death, for death is unnatural; it destroys the life which God has given, it tears apart the band between body and soul. The humiliation of Jesus is so great that He thinks it possible to find another way to work the redemption of the world. The very counsel of God which drove Him down from His throne of glory into this vale of tears was darkened before His eyes in this hour. What a depth of humiliation! And yet, there was not the slightest murmuring against the decree of God. Always the will of God was to be carried out first. He sacrificed His will to that of His heavenly Father. In suffering He learned obedience, and He practised submission, becoming obedient unto death, Heb. 5, 8; Phil. 2, 8.At this climax of His suffering an angel from heaven appeared to Him and offered Him strength, probably by reminding Him of the eternal plan of God and of the final result of His way of suffering. So unutterably deep was the humiliation of the Son of God that He, the great Creator of the universe, accepted assistance and encouragement from one of His own creatures. He was then at the height of His great fear; the words of His prayer poured forth with great vehemence. Of this battle that of the patriarch Jacob at Jabbok had been but a faint type. Finally His sweat became like large drops of blood, which ran down His holy face and fell to the ground. It was the misery and fervor of His soul, glowing in the unbearable heat of this tribulation, that caused this phenomenon. But gradually His strength prevailed, gradually the attacks of death and the devil lost in intensity. And finally He had overcome all His weakness: He was ready to take the cup out of the hand of His heavenly Father and to drain it to the last dregs. He arose from His long battle of prayer; but when He came to His disciples, He found them sleeping for sorrow. Mere flesh and blood had not been able even to witness the scene of such harrowing agony. He awakened them from their sleep, with some degree of sadness over Peter's inability to watch with Him for even one hour. He told them that this was no time to sleep. They should rather arise and pray, lest they enter into temptation. In the hours of great and bitter misfortune above all it is necessary to be ever on the alert, to practice all vigilance, to ask God for strength and submission to His will, in order that no temptation prove too strong or rob us of our faith. The spirit of the Christians may be willing enough, for that is born out of God, but the flesh, the inherited depravity and sinfulness, is too weak and helpless. Only persistent, importunate prayer will receive from the Spirit of God the strength to overcome and obtain the victory.

The betrayal: V. 47. And while He yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the Twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss Him. V. 48. But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss? V. 49 When they which were about Him saw what would follow, they said unto Him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? V. 50. And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. V. 51. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And He touched his ear, and healed him. V. 52. Then Jesus said unto the chief priests and captains of the Temple and the elders which were come to Him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves? V. 53. When I was daily with you in the Temple, ye stretched forth no hands against Me; but this is your hour and the power of darkness. While Jesus was still speaking, He had probably moved down to the entrance of the garden, there to be joined by the eight disciples whom He had left near the road. And about at this point He met the rabble of servants of the high priests and Temple guards and some few soldiers, with a sprinkling of captains of the Temple and the chief priests. Judas, one of the Twelve, was with them, as their leader. “With this name, as with a branding iron, Judas is designated even unto the end.” With revolting hypocrisy he came near to Jesus to kiss Him, and thus to betray Him to His murderers with the token of respect and love. Jesus indicated the full contempt and disgust for this shameful act in the reproving words, which yet seem to contain a pleading tone, as of the Savior that will try even now yet to coax the sinner back to the way of righteousness: With a kiss thou betrayest the Son of Man? About this time, the spectacle also excited the disciples, especially Peter. They were becoming apprehensive for the safety of their beloved Master and, in their misunderstanding of His words, thought that this was a time when swords would stand them in good stead. No sooner had they called out than their anger overpowered them. One sword flashed and descended, cutting off the right ear of the high priest's servant. That was carnal zeal; the Lord was not in need of such defense. The weapons of His warfare are not carnal, but. spiritual. Jesus therefore immediately called His disciples to order by saying: Cease, it is enough! Let the enemies proceed; make no resistance; for only in this way are the Scriptures to be fulfilled. And touching the ear of the servant, He healed him: an affecting bit of kindness to the enemy at the height of a crisis, and one which probably saved the disciples from sudden death. But then the Lord turned to the leaders of the crowd that had come to apprehend Him, the chief priests and the captains of the temple and the elders, and censured their action with words of bitter reproach. As against a thief or robber they had come out, with swords and clubs; and yet He had been in their midst in the Temple every day, and not once had they extended their hands to take Him. Their behavior savored of a bad conscience and was altogether unworthy of the leaders of the people. If all had been open and above board, they could have made an open case against Him and taken Him in charge in the proper way. But now was their hour, the time when the enemies were apparently victorious; and it was the power of darkness that was actuating them. They were in the employ of the prince of darkness. It was Satan that was carrying out his murderous intention against the Lord. And God permitted the wickedness of men and of the devil to have free rein for the present, but only for one purpose, namely, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.

Christ before Caiaphas. The Denial of Peter. Luke 22, 54-71.

The fall of Peter: V. 54. Then took they Him, and led Him, and brought Him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off. V. 55. And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. V. 56. But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with Him. V. 57. And he denied Him, saying, Woman, I know Him not. V. 58. And after a little while another saw him and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not; V. 59. And about the space of one hour after, another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with Him; for he is a Galilean. V. 60. And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. V. 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, thou shalt deny Me thrice. V. 62. And Peter went out and wept bitterly. There was little rest, and no sleep, in the palace of. the high priest that night. The departure of the band had caused great excitement throughout the household, and its victorious return caused all the servants to be worked up to the highest pitch. For the time being, all the adherents of the prisoner were in like condemnation. The servants had surrounded Jesus and thus taken Him captive, and then marched Him to the house of the high priest. Peter's impulsive nature came to the front here: he must see what was going to happen. The servants had kindled a good fire in the midst of the court of the palace, one which supplied light as well as heat. Peter, having gained admission into the arched doorway, joined the servants about the fire, for the chill of the spring night was in the air. Here a maid saw him, as he was sitting toward the light. Fixing her eyes upon him very firmly to be sure she was making no mistake, she accused him of being a follower of Jesus. She made her accusation in the form of a statement to the other servants: Also this man was with Him. And Peter, taken by surprise, uttered the words before he really had time to consider them: I don't know Him, woman. His conscience may have bothered him some after that, for he appears to have gone away from the fire for some time. But it was not long before he was attacked from different sides, not only the janitresses accusing him, but also one of the men: And thou also art of them, a member of that notorious band. Peter had denied being a follower of Jesus, now he denies his discipleship, with greater emphasis. But the opposition was not quieted, for hardly had another hour gone by when still another man affirmed more strongly: In truth also this man was with Him, for he is a Galilean. And Peter again denied, pretending even ignorance of what the man was saying. So the threefold denial of the Lord had become a fact, according to the prophecy of the evening before. At this moment the cock crowed, and at the same time Jesus turned to look at Peter. This look of the Savior, whom he had so deeply grieved with his great sin, entered deeply into the heart of Peter. It was either that Jesus at this time was taken from the chambers of Hannas to those of his son-in-law, Caiaphas, or that the judgment-hall was on a level from which one could look down into the court. Now Peter recalled every word of his Master, and surely also the boastfulness with which he had answered Him. And he went out of the palace into the open and wept bitterly. That was sincere sorrow and repentance. Peter trusted in the Word of the Gospel, the promise of salvation which he had heard so often out of the mouth of his Teacher, and in the strength of that faith he found forgiveness.

Jesus treated with contempt: V. 63. And the men that held Jesus mocked Him, and smote Him. V. 64. And when they had blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face, and asked Him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote Thee? V. 65. And many other things blasphemously spake they against Him. Cp. Matt. 26, 67. 68; Mark 14, 65. The servants of the high priest and the elders were meanwhile having their sport with the captured Prophet of Galilee, and their rude jests and blasphemous mockeries were committed unreproved. They derided Him, they jeered and sneered at Him, they struck Him, not only in the face, but on the body; they put a heavy veil or cloth over His face and blasphemously ordered Him to prophesy as to who it was that was hitting Him. And when one form of cruelty palled upon them, they devised some new blasphemous trick to while away the time. That was the beginning of the martyrdom of Christ, of His suffering for the sins of the whole world. And if in our days the unbelievers, the blasphemous band of scoffers, jeer at the prophecy, at the Word of Christ, and wantonly persecute the servants of Christ, that is only the continuation of the sufferings of Christ. But the patience of Christ is our salvation as well as our example.

Summary of the trial: V. 66. And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led Him into their council, saying, V. 67. Art Thou the Christ! Tell us. And He said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe; V. 68. and if I also ask you, ye will not answer Me, nor let Me go. V. 69. Hereafter shall the Son of Man sit on the right hand of the power of God. V. 70. Then said they all, Art Thou, then, the Son of God? And He said unto them, Ye say that I am. V. 71. And they said, What need we any further witness? For we ourselves have heard of His own mouth. Cp. Matt. 26, 59-66; Mark 14, 55-64. Luke gives a summary of both the night meeting at the palace of the high priest and of the morning meeting, in which the sentence of the night was repeated and confirmed. As soon as it was morning, the entire Sanhedrin convened in the Hall of Polished Stones. It was necessary that the sentence of death be taken into consideration once more, and that the travesty upon justice be made not quite so apparent. The demand of the members of the Sanhedrin was short and insolent. He should tell them whether He really were the Christ, the promised Messiah. Jesus gently reminded them of the fact that their entire trial was a farce and a mockery, for they neither believed His words nor answered His questions. One word, however, He told them with great solemnity, namely, that He, the. Son of Man, would be sitting at the right hand of the power of God. When these His judges see Him again, their roles will be exchanged. Then He will be the Judge, and the enemies of Christ will shrink back in terror when they are haled before the throne of His judgment. Then they will call upon the mountains to fall upon them, and upon the hills to cover them. And when they all, following the example of the high priest, demanded a short statement whether He were the Son of God, He gave the majestic answer : You say it; for I am. With this statement Bounding in their ears, the unjust condemnation of the council was in reality the most perfect vindication of the innocence and holiness of Jesus. The reason, then, why the Jews wanted Jesus to die was because He was the Son of God and as such had told them the truth, had rebuked their evil works, and exposed their hypocrisy. But we Christians thank our dear Lord Jesus Christ for having permitted this sentence to be pronounced upon Him, and for testifying to this fact to the very last, confirming it with a solemn oath, that He is the Son of the most blessed God. Now we know that we are reconciled to God by the death of His Son. The blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, cleanest us from all sin.

Summary. While Judas offers to betray his Master, Jesus has Peter and John prepare the Passover meal in a designated house, eats the supper with His disciples, institutes the Holy Eucharist, teaches a lesson in humility, warns Peter agaist overconfidence in self, suffers the agony of Gethsemane, is betrayed to the Jews by the kiss of Judas, and in the court of the Sanhedrin is condemned to death, while Peter denies Him three times.