Hi I’m Josh Hawkins, this is episode 138 of Opening Up the Gospels. A couple of episodes ago, I spent some time developing the time of private questioning by Caiaphas the high priest, as he sought to try to find something with which to indict Jesus before the larger group of Jewish authorities. And in the last episode, we looked at the record of Jesus’ first meeting with the larger Sanhedrin likely sometime after midnight on Thursday night or Friday morning in our reckoning of Passion Week. Matthew 26 tells us that false witnesses were brought against Jesus, and even through all of the false accusation, Jesus remained silent. Then being asked if He was the Christ, Jesus affirmed it and went a step further, saying that He was the one Daniel 7 and Psalm 110 was talking about, the one who would sit at God’s right hand and be given a kingdom and dominion, that all people would serve Him. It was that statement right there that got Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin fired up. They accused Jesus of blasphemy and said He was deserving of death. Now in the midst of these moments, the Gospels record another significant event for us, and that’s Peter’s denial of Jesus. I want to show you how this all fits together, so let’s read today from Luke 22:
"Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly."
(Luke 22:54–62 ESV)
This is where Luke’s account of Thursday night picks up. He doesn’t give us the detail that John does, specifically regarding Jesus’ visit first to Annas and then the private inquisition of Caiaphas and even the first inquisition with a bunch of the Sanhedrin after midnight. But Mark’s Gospel, for example, tells us that Peter had followed Jesus to Caiaphas’ house and was in his courtyard when the first inquisition of the Sanhedrin was taking place. You can check that out in Mark 14. If we were to put all of the accounts together, it seems like Peter’s second denial took place just as the council had declared Jesus deserving of death, and just as they began their increased mocking, spitting, and beating of Him. Now Peter’s three denials of Jesus did not all come within 5 minutes of each other, as is so often pictured when we just read the text quickly. However, I think we can safely assume that perhaps an hour had passed when Peter was accused and denied being Jesus’ disciple for the third time. Matthew 26 says:
"After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly."
(Matthew 26:73–75 ESV)
John’s Gospel says that one of the men who came up to talk to Peter this third time was a relative of Malchus, servant of the high priest whom he had cut the ear off of just hours earlier in the garden. A rooster crows, just as Jesus had predicted, and at this same moment, Luke tells us that the Lord turns and looks at Peter, and from the courtyard, he runs out and weeps bitterly, now a broken man in the winding streets of Jerusalem. Oh, how painful this moment must have been for him. The one who said that he would never deny the Lord actually ended up doing it. Wow.
Now before we move on, I want to connect this scene to some of Peter’s own words from his letter. Check out what he says in 1 Peter 2 when he is exhorting slaves to respect their masters:
"For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly."
(1 Peter 2:20–23 ESV)
Now, just think about how Peter can say this. Standing in the courtyard of Caiaphas, He likely heard the uproar of the council when they said Jesus was deserving of death. He could maybe even see up into a chamber above, but at least hear them spitting on and beating Jesus, and not once did He hear Him say a thing in self-defense. What I think is implicit in Peter’s words here in his letter is him saying “I saw Jesus do that, and He left us an example to follow.” These words come alive in a radically different way when we remember that the one writing them was an eyewitness of Jesus’ reviling and suffering.
Now as we’ll see, Luke’s Gospel continues the narrative with Jesus before the Sanhedrin again in the morning. But before we read that, we just have to take a second to ponder what might have happened in the intervening hours. Remember, it was likely sometime after midnight that Jesus was brought to Annas and then to Caiaphas, and then some time had to pass for the council members to be awakened and arrive at the house of Caiaphas. After the affairs of the night had ended and the Jewish authorities that were present mocked, spit on, and beat Jesus, they all must have gone home and gotten a few hours of sleep before the sun rose over the city once again. Though we can’t be sure of the exact details, I think we can presume that Jesus would have been kept under guard at Caiaphas’ house, maybe even in the same chamber where the evening proceedings had occurred. Or maybe he was taken to some sort of cell or other holding chamber for a few hours before yet another inquisition and condemnation before the full Sanhedrin. We can only imagine what was going through Jesus’ mind as He lay there bound, bruised, tired, and thirsty. Did he just lie there on the cold stone floor and sleep? Did He pray? There were only hours of His life remaining, and I can’t help but think that His heart was filled with concern for His disciples and sorrow for His chosen people Israel. Well, let’s continue in Luke 22:
"When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”"
(Luke 22:66–71 ESV)
So here we are in the morning now, and all the chief priests and the elders gathered and plotted against Jesus to put Him to death. Matthew and Mark record this as well, and this happened before they send Him away to Pilate. Again, do you see how the Gospels are complementary to one another? Luke’s Gospel has not narrated the evening inquisition, but Matthew and Mark both have. They all also say very clearly that the council gathered in the morning, but only Luke describes it. Now there were probably a couple of reasons for this second meeting. First, as I mentioned before, not all of the council members would have been able to gather the night before, simply because it was so late in the evening and the gathering was not an official one, so notice had to go out by messengers going to each house. We would probably be correct in assuming now that at this morning gathering, the entire ruling council would be there, with perhaps the exception of those who abstained because of their sympathy toward Jesus - people like Nicodemus, for example. The ones who hadn’t been there the night before now had the chance to hear Jesus’ supposed blasphemy first hand. And that’s exactly what we see Luke describing. The second reason for this morning meeting had to do with Jewish laws. It was illegal to convict someone and pronounce death upon them in only one day, and it was required that they fast and mourn the rest of the day when they did condemn someone to death. However, it shouldn’t be a surprise to us by now as we’ve seen the Jewish authorities on many occasions have absolutely no regard for adherence to the law. But by what the Gospels record for us, it seems as if Caiaphas and the others wanted to justify themselves and ensure that everyone else agreed that Jesus should be put to death. Do you see how distorted, how illegal, how unjust, and how selfish this whole thing is?
Well as I conclude today’s episode, I want to review the sequence of events that we’ve been looking at these last several episodes. First, Jesus is escorted from the Garden by the Romans and the Temple guards to the house of Annas where He is held briefly. Only John records this. Then, Jesus is escorted to the house of Caiaphas. Caiaphas didn’t know what Jesus was going to be like, so he sizes Him up to get material to indict Him before the rest of the council. Only John records this as well. And third, Jesus appears before some of the Sanhedrin in the late night or early morning hours according to our reckoning. Matthew and Mark record this, Luke just mentions it briefly, and John doesn’t say anything about it at all. Fourth, Jesus appears before the full Sanhedrin at daybreak. Matthew and Mark only mention this, and Luke records a more full account for us. And in the next episode, we’re going to look at Jesus’ appearance before Pilate. Before all is said and done, we’re going to have 7 steps in this progression, so be sure to come back for those episodes.
In the meantime, go back and watch any previous episodes you’ve missed in this series from my website, www.joshuahawkins.com/gospels. God bless, and I hope you come back next time.