Luke 22:54
Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off.
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(54-62) Then took they him.—See Notes on Matthew 26:57-58; Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:53-72. Peter’s following “afar off” may be noted as a feature common to the first three Gospels.



Luke 22:54 - Luke 22:71

The present passage deals with three incidents, each of which may be regarded either as an element in our Lord’s sufferings or as a revelation of man’s sin. He is denied, mocked, and formally rejected and condemned. A trusted friend proves faithless, the underlings of the rulers brutally ridicule His prophetic claims, and their masters vote Him a blasphemer for assenting His divinity and Messiahship.

I. We have the failure of loyalty and love in Peter’s denials.

I may observe that Luke puts all Peter’s denials before the hearing by the council, from which it is clear that the latter was later than the hearing recorded by Matthew and John. The first denial probably took place in the great hall of the high priest’s official residence, at the upper end of which the prisoner was being examined, while the hangers-on huddled round the fire, idly waiting the event.

The morning air bit sharply, and Peter, exhausted, sleepy, sad, and shivering, was glad to creep near the blaze. Its glinting on his face betrayed him to a woman’s sharp eye, and her gossiping tongue could not help blurting out her discovery. Curiosity, not malice, moved her; and there is no reason to suppose that any harm would have come to Peter, if he had said, as he should have done, ‘Yes, I am His disciple.’ The day for persecuting the servants was not yet come, but for the present it was Jesus only who was aimed at.

No doubt, cowardice had a share in the denials, but there was more than that in them. Peter was worn out with fatigue, excitement, and sorrow. His susceptible nature would be strongly affected by the trying scenes of the last day, and all the springs of life would be low. He was always easily influenced by surroundings, and just as, at a later date, he was ‘carried away’ by the presence at Antioch of the Judaisers, and turned his back on the liberal principles which he had professed, so now he could not resist the current of opinion, and dreaded being unlike even the pack of menials among whom he sat. He was ashamed of his Master and hid his colours, not so much for fear of bodily harm as of ridicule. Was there not a deeper depth still in his denials, even the beginnings of doubt whether, after all, Jesus was what he had thought Him? Christ prayed that Peter’s ‘faith’ should not ‘fail’ or be totally eclipsed, and that may indicate that the assault was made on his ‘faith’ and that it wavered, though it recovered steadfastness.

If he had been as sure of Christ’s work and nature as when he made his great confession, he could not have denied Him. But the sight of Jesus bound, unresisting, and evidently at the mercy of the rulers, might well make a firmer faith stagger. We have not to steel ourselves to bear bodily harm if we confess Christ; but many of us have to run counter to a strong current flowing around us, and to be alone in the midst of unsympathising companions ready to laugh and gibe, and some of us are tempted to waver in our convictions of Christ’s divinity and redeeming power, because He still seems to stand at the bar of the wise men and leaders of opinion, and to be treated by them as a pretender. It is a wretched thing to be persecuted out of one’s Christianity in the old-fashioned fire and sword style; but it is worse to be laughed out of it or to lose it, because we breathe an atmosphere of unbelief. Let the doctors at the top of the hall and the lackeys round the fire who take their opinions from them say what they like, but let them not make us ashamed of Jesus.

Peter slipped away to the gateway, and there, apparently, was again attacked, first by the porteress and then by others, which occasioned the second denial, while the third took place in the same place, about an hour afterwards. One sin makes many. The devil’s hounds hunt in packs. Consistency requires the denier to stick to his lie. Once the tiniest wing tip is in the spider’s web, before long the whole body will be wrapped round by its filthy, sticky threads.

If Peter had been less confident, he would have been more safe. If he had said less about going to prison and death, he would have had more reserve fidelity for the time of trial. What business had he thrusting himself into the palace? Over-reliance on self leads us to put ourselves in the way of temptations which it were wiser to avoid. Had he forgotten Christ’s warnings? Apparently so. Christ predicts the fall that it may not happen, and if we listen to Him, we shall not fall.

The moment of recovery seems to have been while our Lord was passing from the earlier to the later examination before the rulers. In the very floodtide of Peter’s oaths, the shrill cock-crow is heard, and at the sound the half-finished denial sticks in his throat. At the same moment he sees Jesus led past him, and that look, so full of love, reproof, and pardon, brought him back to loyalty, and saved him from despair. The assurance of Christ’s knowledge of our sins against Him melts the heart, when the assurance of His forgiveness and tender love comes with it. Then tears, which are wholly humble but not wholly grief, flow. They do not wash away the sin, but they come from the assurance that Christ’s love, like a flood, has swept it away. They save from remorse, which has no healing in it.

II. We have the rude taunts of the servants.

The mockery here comes from Jews, and is directed against Christ’s prophetic character, while the later jeers of the Roman soldiers make a jest of His kingship. Each set lays hold of what seems to it most ludicrous in His pretensions, and these servants ape their masters on the judgment seat, in laughing to scorn this Galilean peasant who claimed to be the Teacher of them all. Rude natures have to take rude ways of expression, and the vulgar mockery meant precisely the same as more polite and covert scorn means from more polished people; namely, rooted disbelief in Him. These mockers were contented to take their opinions on trust from priests and rabbis. How often, since then, have Christ’s servants been objects of popular odium at the suggestion of the same classes, and how often have the ignorant people been misled by their trust in their teachers to hate and persecute their true Master!

Jesus is silent under all the mockery, but then, as now, He knows who strikes Him. His eyes are open behind the bandage, and see the lifted hands and mocking lips. He will speak one day, and His speech will be detection and condemnation. Then He was silent, as patiently enduring shame and spitting for our sakes. Now He is silent, as long-suffering and wooing us to repentance; but He keeps count and record of men’s revilings, and the day comes when He whose eyes are as a flame of fire will say to every foe, ‘I know thy works.’

III. We have the formal rejection and condemnation by the council.

The hearing recorded in verses 66 to 71 took place ‘as soon as it was day,’ and was apparently a more formal official ratification of the proceedings of the earlier examination described by Matthew and John. The ruler’s question was put simply in order to obtain material for the condemnation already resolved on. Our Lord’s answer falls into two parts, in the first of which He in effect declines to recognise the bona fides of His judges and the competency of the tribunal, and in the second goes beyond their question, and claims participation in divine glory and power. ‘If I tell you, ye will not believe’; therefore He will not tell them.

Jesus will not unfold His claims to those who only seek to hear them in order to reject, not to examine, them. Silence is His answer to ingrained prejudice masquerading as honest inquiry. It is ever so. There is small chance of truth at the goal if there be foregone conclusions or biased questions at the starting-point. ‘If I ask you, ye will not answer.’ They had taken refuge in judicious but self-condemning silence when He had asked them the origin of John’s mission and the meaning of the One Hundred and Tenth Psalm, and thereby showed that they were not seeking light. Jesus will gladly speak with any who will be frank with Him, and let Him search their hearts; but He will not unfold His mission to such as refuse to answer His questions. But while thus He declines to submit Himself to that tribunal, and in effect accuses them of obstinate blindness and a fixed conclusion to reject the claims which they were pretending to examine, He will not leave them without once more asserting an even higher dignity than that of Messiah. As a prisoner at their bar, He has nothing to say to them; but as their King and future Judge, He has something. They desire to find materials for sentence of death, and though He will not give these in the character of a criminal before His judges, He also desires that the sentence should pass, and He will declare His divine prerogatives and fall possession of divine power in the hearing of the highest court of the nation.

It was fitting that the representatives of Israel, however prejudiced, should hear at that supreme moment the full assertion of full deity. It was fitting that Israel should condemn itself, by treating that claim as blasphemy. It was fitting that Jesus should bring about His death by His twofold claim-that made to the Sanhedrim, of being the Son of God, and that before Pilate, of being the King of the Jews.

The whole scene teaches us the voluntary character of Christ’s Death, which is the direct result of this tremendous assertion. It carries our thoughts forward to the time when the criminal of that morning shall be the Judge, and the judges and we shall stand at His bar. It raises the solemn question, Did Jesus claim truly when He claimed divine power? If truly, do we worship Him? If falsely, what was He? It mirrors the principles on which He deals with men universally, answering ‘him that cometh, according to the multitude of his idols,’ and meeting hypocritical pretences of seeking the truth about Him with silence, but ever ready to open His heart and the witness to His claims to the honest and docile spirits who are ready to accept His words, and glad to open their inmost secrets to Him.Luke 22:54-62. Then took they him, and brought him into the high-priest’s house — See on Matthew 26:57; and Mark 14:53; Mark 14:51. When they had kindled a fire, Peter sat down among them — See the story of Peter’s three-fold denial of Christ elucidated at large in the notes on Matthew 26:69-75; and Mark 14:66-72. Another saw him, and said — Observe here, in order to reconcile the four evangelists, that divers persons concurred in charging Peter with belonging to Christ. 1st, The maid that let him in, afterward seeing him at the fire, first put the question to him, and then positively affirmed that he was with Christ. 2d, Another maid accused him to the standers by, and gave occasion to the man here mentioned to renew the charge against him, which caused the second denial. 3d, Others of the company took notice of his being a Galilean, and were seconded by the kinsman of Malchus, who affirmed he had seen him in the garden. And this drew on the third denial. And about an hour after — So he did not recollect himself in all that time.22:54-62 Peter's fall was his denying that he knew Christ, and was his disciple; disowning him because of distress and danger. He that has once told a lie, is strongly tempted to persist: the beginning of that sin, like strife, is as the letting forth of water. The Lord turned and looked upon Peter. 1. It was a convincing look. Jesus turned and looked upon him, as if he should say, Dost thou not know me, Peter? 2. It was a chiding look. Let us think with what a rebuking countenance Christ may justly look upon us when we have sinned. 3. It was an expostulating look. Thou who wast the most forward to confess me to be the Son of God, and didst solemnly promise thou wouldest never disown me! 4. It was a compassionate look. Peter, how art thou fallen and undone if I do not help thee! 5. It was a directing look, to go and bethink himself. 6. It was a significant look; it signified the conveying of grace to Peter's heart, to enable him to repent. The grace of God works in and by the word of God, brings that to mind, and sets that home upon the conscience, and so gives the soul the happy turn. Christ looked upon the chief priests, and made no impression upon them as he did on Peter. It was not the mere look from Christ, but the Divine grace with it, that restored Peter.See the notes at Matthew 26:57-75. Lu 22:47-54. Betrayal and Apprehension of Jesus—Flight of His Disciples.Ver. 54-62. The whole history of Peter’s denial of his Master, and of his repentance. See Poole on "Matthew 26:69", and following verses to Matthew 26:75, where we have opened what passages relating to it are in Mark or this evangelist. Then took they him, and led him,.... The band of soldiers, the captain, and the officers of the Jews, laid hold on Jesus, and bound him, John 18:12 and led him out of the garden; notwithstanding the miracle he had wrought, and the humanity he had shown in healing the servant's ear; and notwithstanding his moving address to the chiefs of them; and indeed, this was a confirmation of his last words; for by this it appeared, that now was their time, and power was given to them, as the emissaries of Satan, to act against him:

and brought him into the high priest's house; where the sanhedrim were assembled; but this was not in the temple where they used to sit: it is true, indeed, that the chamber in the temple, called the chamber "Parhedrin", or "Palhedrin", was, , "the dwelling house" of the high priest, seven days before the day of atonement (k); and this was also called the "chamber of the counsellors" (l); so that had the time of year agreed, it might have been thought that this was the place that Jesus was led to; but here the high priest did not usually dwell, and it is manifestly distinguished from his own house: for it is said (m),

"seven days before the day of atonement, they separate, or remove the high priest, "from his house", to the chamber of "Palhedrin";''

See Gill on Matthew 26:3.

And Peter followed afar off; See Gill on Matthew 26:58.

(k) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 10. 1. Maimon. Hilch, Mezuza, c. 6. sect. 6. (l) T. Bab, Yoma, fol. 8. 2.((m) Misna Yoma, c. 1. sect. 1.

Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. {19} And Peter followed afar off.

(19) We have to behold in Peter an example both of the fragility of man's nature, and the singular goodness of God towards his elect.

Luke 22:54-62. See on Matthew 26:57 f., 69–75; Mark 14:53 f., 66–72. Jesus is led into the house of the high priest, in the court of which (Luke 22:61; Luke 22:63), according to Luke, who follows a diverging tradition, He is kept and subjected to mockery till daybreak (Luke 22:66), when the Sanhedrim comes together. According to Matthew and Mark, the Sanhedrim assemble immediately after the arrival of Jesus, and examine Him. The two narratives cannot be reconciled, but the preference is to be given to Luke in so far as he agrees with John. See below on τοῦ ἀρχιερ. Moreover, Luke is not self-contradictory (in opposition to Strauss), as the chief priests and elders mentioned at Luke 22:52 are to be regarded only as individuals, and probably as deputed by the Sanhedrim.

τοῦ ἀρχιερ.] As Luke did not regard Caiaphas (the general opinion), but Annas, as the officiating high priest (see on Luke 3:2 and Acts 4:6), the latter is to be understood in this place. Comp.Bleek, Beitr. p. 39 ff., and Holtzmann. Luke, indeed, thus falls into a new variation from Matthew, but partially comes into harmony with John so far, that is, as the latter likewise represents Jesus as brought at first to Annas, and so far also as in Luke and in John the denials occur in the court of Annas. But of a trial before Annas (John 18:19 ff.) Luke has nothing, yet it finds its historical place naturally enough immediately after εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ ἀρχιερ., when the prisoner, as may be supposed, was announced. Wieseler also, Synopse, p. 405, comes to the result that Luke 22:54-65 belongs to what occurred in the house of Annas, but comes to it in another way. Comp. on Luke 3:2.

Luke 22:55. περιαψάντων] (see the critical remarks) after they had kindled around (Phalaris, Ep. v. p. 28), i.e. had set it in full blaze. The insertion of αὐτῶν was not needful, Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. i. 2. 17.

Luke 22:56. ἀτενίσασα] after she had looked keenly upon him, Luke 4:20, and very often in the Acts of the Apostles. See Jacobs, ad Anthol. VI. p. 259.

Luke 22:58. ἕτερος] A variation from Matthew and Mark. For Luke does not think of a maid; rather he distinguishes the interrogator here as masculine, by ἕτερος and ἄνθρωπε, from the female questioner of Luke 22:56 f.; hence Ebrard (comp. Wetstein) is wrong in contenting himself with the indefinite sense, “somebody else.”

Luke 22:59. ἄλλος τις] several, according to Matthew and Mark. As to the variations of the four Gospels in the account of the denials, see in general on Matthew 26:75, Remark.

Luke 22:61. According to Luke, therefore, Jesus is still also in the court, and, down to Luke 22:66, is kept there in custody (Luke 22:63). Certainly it is psychologically extremely improbable that Peter should have perpetrated the denials in the presence of Jesus, which, moreover, is contrary to the other Gospels. But a reconciliation of them with Luke is impossible; and, moreover, the assumption that Jesus looked upon Peter as He was led from Annas to Caiaphas and passed close by the disciple in the court (John 18:24, so Olshausen, Schweizer, Ebrard), is inadmissible, as, according to John, it is already the second denial that occurs about the same time as this leading away of Jesus, but according to Luke, Luke 22:59, there is an interval of about an hour between the second and third denial.

ἐνέβλεψε] What a holy power is in this silent glance, according to the narrative of Luke!Luke 22:54-62. Peter’s fall (Matthew 26:57-58; Matthew 26:69-75, Mark 14:53-54; Mark 14:66-72).—Lk. tells the sad story of Peter’s fall without interruption, and in as gentle a manner as possible, the cursing omitted, and the three acts of denial forming an anticlimax instead of a climax, as in parallels.54-62. Peter’s Denial.

Then took they him] Rather, seizing Him.

and led him] with His hands bound, probably behind His back, John 18:12.

into the high priest’s house] The actual High Priest was Joseph Caiaphas (another form of Kephas), son-in-law of Annas (see on Luke 3:2). The trial of our Lord by the Jews was in three phases—(1) before Annas (John 18:12-18); (2) before Caiaphas (here and Matthew 26:59-68; Mark 14:55-65); (3) before the entire Sanhedrin at dawn (Luke 22:66; Matthew 27:1; Mark 15:1). Each trial might be regarded as supremely important. Annas, or Hanan son of Seth, was the most influential of the ex-High Priests, and may, as Sagan (Deputy) or Nasi (President), have virtually wielded the sacerdotal power. The result therefore of a trial before him would involve a fatal praejudicium, since the utmost reverence was paid to his age, wealth, power, and shrewdness.—The second trial was before the most important committee of the Sanhedrin, which might in one sense be called ‘the whole Sanhedrin’ (Mark 14:55), and though it could have no legal validity, being held at night, it served as a sort of anakrisis or preliminary enquiry, which left the final decision only formal.—The third trial was held at dawn before the entire Sanhedrin, and passed the final decree of condemnation against Jesus for blasphemy, which had been already pre-determined. The enmity of the priests may have partly arisen (as I have given reasons for believing in the Life of Christ, ii. 334) from the fact that the cleansing of the Temple involved an interference with their illicit gains. After the first trial—at which Jesus was first smitten— He was sent bound to Caiaphas, who perhaps lived in the same house. These three Jewish trials were illegal in almost every particular. The Sanhedrin was generally a merciful and cautious tribunal, but was now a mere dependent body entirely under the influence of the Sadducees, who were the most ruthless of Jewish sects.

Peter followed afar off] “to see the end,” Matthew 26:58. It was a most unwise exposure of himself to temptation. His admission into the courtyard of the High Priest’s house was due to the influence of John, who was known to the High Priest, and spoke to the portress (John 18:15-16).Verses 54-62. - The denial of Peter. Verse 54. - Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off. There has been some discussion here on the question of harmonizing the separate accounts. There is, however, no real difficulty if the following historical details be borne in mind. The actual high priest at this juncture was Caiaphas, son-in-law to Annas, who was the legal high priest, but had been deposed by the Roman power some time before. Annas, however, although prevented by the Roman government from bearing the high priestly insignia, was apparently looked upon by the people as the rightful possessor of the dignity, and evidently exercised the chief authority in the Jewish councils. It seems that he and his son-in-law Caiaphas, the Roman nominee, occupied together the high priest's palace. There were three trials of our Lord by the Jews:

(1) Before Annas (John 18:12-18).

(2) Before Caiaphas and what has been termed a committee of the Sanhedrm (John 18:24; Matthew 26:59-68; Mark 14:55-65).

(3) Formally before the whole Sanhedrin at dawn (Luke 22:66-71; Matthew 27:1; Mark 15:1). The thrice-repeated denial of Peter took place:

(1) On his first going in (he was admitted through the influence of John, who was known to the officials) to the court-yard of the high priest's palace, in answer to the female servant who kept the door (John 18:17).

(2) As he sat by the fire warming himself, in answer to another maid (Matthew 26:69) and to other bystanders (John 18:25: Luke 22:58), including the kinsman of Malchus (John 18:26).

(3) About an hour later (Luke 22:59), after he had left the fire to avoid the questioners, and had gone out into the porch or gateway leading into the court-yard, in answer to one of the maids who had spoken before (Mark 14:69; Matthew 16:71), and to other bystanders (Luke 22:59; Matthew 26:73; Mark 14:70).
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