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Mark 14


56. For many bare false witness against him--From their debasing themselves to "seek" them, we are led to infer that they were bribed to bear false witness; though there are never wanting sycophants enough, ready to sell themselves for naught, if they may but get a smile from those above them: see a similar scene in Acts 6:11-14 . How is one reminded here of that complaint, "False witnesses did rise up: they laid to my charge things that I knew not" ( Psalms 31:11 )!
but their witness agreed not together--If even two of them had been agreed, it would have been greedily enough laid hold of, as all that the law insisted upon even in capital cases ( Deuteronomy 17:6 ). But even in this they failed. One cannot but admire the providence which secured this result; since, on the one hand, it seems astonishing that those unscrupulous prosecutors and their ready tools should so bungle a business in which they felt their whole interests bound up; and, on the other hand, if they had succeeded in making even a plausible case, the effect on the progress of the Gospel might for a time have been injurious. But at the very time when His enemies were saying, "God hath forsaken Him; persecute and take Him; for there is none to deliver Him" ( Psalms 71:11 ). He whose Witness He was and whose work He was doing was keeping Him as the apple of His eye, and while He was making the wrath of man to praise Him, was restraining the remainder of that wrath ( Psalms 76:10 ).

57. And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him--Matthew ( Matthew 26:60 ) is more precise here: "At the last came two false witnesses." As no two had before agreed in anything, they felt it necessary to secure a duplicate testimony to something, but they were long of succeeding. And what was it, when at length it was brought forward?
saying--as follows:

58. We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands--On this charge, observe, first, that eager as His enemies were to find criminal matter against our Lord, they had to go back to the outset of His ministry, His first visit to Jerusalem, more than three years before this. In all that He said and did after that, though ever increasing in boldness, they could find nothing. Next, that even then, they fix only on one speech, of two or three words, which they dared to adduce against Him. Further, they most manifestly pervert the speech of our Lord. We say not this because in Mark's form of it, it differs from the report of the words given by the Fourth Evangelist ( John 2:18-22 )--the only one of the Evangelists who reports it all, or mentions even any visit paid by our Lord to Jerusalem before His last--but because the one report bears truth, and the other falsehood, on its face. When our Lord said on that occasion, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up," they might, for a moment, have understood Him to refer to the temple out of whose courts He had swept the buyers and sellers. But after they had expressed their astonishment at His words, in that sense of them, and reasoned upon the time it had taken to rear the temple as it then stood, since no answer to this appears to have been given by our Lord, it is hardly conceivable that they should continue in the persuasion that this was really His meaning. But finally, even if the more ignorant among them had done so, it is next to certain that the ecclesiastics, who were the prosecutors in this case, did not believe that this was His meaning. For in less than three days after this they went to Pilate, saying, "Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, after three days I will rise again" ( Matthew 27:63 ). Now what utterance of Christ known to His enemies, could this refer to, if not to this very saying about destroying and rearing up the temple? And if so, it puts it beyond a doubt that by this time, at least, they were perfectly aware that our Lord's words referred to His death by their hands and His resurrection by His own. But this is confirmed by Mark 14:59 .

59. But neither so did their witness agree together--that is, not even as to so brief a speech, consisting of but a few words, was there such a concurrence in their mode of reporting it as to make out a decent case. In such a charge everything depended on the very terms alleged to have been used. For every one must see that a very slight turn, either way, given to such words, would make them either something like indictable matter, or else a ridiculous ground for a criminal charge--would either give them a colorable pretext for the charge of impiety which they were bent on making out, or else make the whole saying appear, on the worst view that could be taken of it, as merely some mystical or empty boast.

60. Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?--Clearly, they felt that their case had failed, and by this artful question the high priest hoped to get from His own mouth what they had in vain tried to obtain from their false and contradictory witnesses. But in this, too, they failed.

61. But he held his peace, and answered nothing--This must have nonplussed them. But they were not to be easily baulked of their object.
Again the high priest--arose ( Matthew 26:62 ), matters having now come to a crisis.
asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?--Why our Lord should have answered this question, when He was silent as to the former, we might not have quite seen, but for Matthew, who says ( Matthew 26:63 ) that the high priest put Him upon solemn oath, saying, "I adjure Thee by the living God, that Thou tell us whether Thou be the Christ, the Son of God." Such an adjuration was understood to render an answer legally necessary ( Leviticus 5:1 ).

62. And Jesus said, I am--or, as in Matthew ( Matthew 26:64 ), "Thou hast said [it]." In Luke, however ( Luke 22:70 ), the answer, "Ye say that I am," should be rendered--as DE WETTE, MEYER, ELLICOTT, and the best critics agree that the preposition requires--"Ye say [it], for I am [so]." Some words, however, were spoken by our Lord before giving His answer to this solemn question. These are recorded by Luke alone ( Luke 22:67 Luke 22:68 ): "Art Thou the Christ [they asked]? tell us. And He said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe: and if I also ask [interrogate] "you, ye will not answer Me, nor let Me go." This seems to have been uttered before giving His direct answer, as a calm remonstrance and dignified protest against the prejudgment of His case and the unfairness of their mode of procedure. But now let us hear the rest of the answer, in which the conscious majesty of Jesus breaks forth from behind the dark cloud which overhung Him as He stood before the Council.
and--in that character.
ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven--In Matthew ( Matthew 26:64 ) a slightly different but interesting turn is given to it by one word: "Thou hast said [it]: nevertheless"--We prefer this sense of the word to "besides," which some recent critics decide for--"I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sit on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." The word rendered "hereafter" means, not "at some future time" (as to-day "hereafter commonly does), but what the English word originally signified, "after here," "after now," or "from this time." Accordingly, in Luke 22:69 , the words used mean "from now." So that though the reference we have given it to the day of His glorious Second Appearing is too obvious to admit of doubt, He would, by using the expression, "From this time," convey the important thought which He had before expressed, immediately after the traitor left the supper table to do his dark work, "Now is the Son of man glorified" ( John 13:31 ). At this moment, and by this speech, did He "witness the good confession" emphatically and properly, as the apostle says in 1 Timothy 6:13 . Our translators render the words there, "Who before Pontius Pilate witnessed"; referring it to the admission of His being a King, in the presence of Cæsar's own chief representative. But it should be rendered, as LUTHER renders it, and as the best interpreters now understand it, "Who under Pontius Pilate witnessed," &c. In this view of it, the apostle is referring not to what our Lord confessed before Pilate--which, though noble, was not of such primary importance--but to that sublime confession which, under Pilate's administration, He witnessed before the only competent tribunal on such occasions, the Supreme Ecclesiastical Council of God's chosen nation, that He was THE MESSIAH, and THE SON OF THE BLESSED ONE; in the former word owning His Supreme Official, in the latter His Supreme Personal, Dignity.

63. Then the high priest rent his clothes--On this expression of horror of blasphemy, see 2 Kings 18:37 .
and saith, What need we any further witnesses?

64. Ye have heard the blasphemy--(See John 10:33 ). In Luke ( Luke 22:71 ), "For we ourselves have heard of His own mouth"--an affectation of religious horror.
what think ye?--"Say what the verdict is to be."
they all condemned him to be guilty of death--or of a capital crime, which blasphemy against God was according to the Jewish law ( Leviticus 24:16 ). Yet not absolutely all; for Joseph of Arimathea, "a good man and a just," was one of that Council, and "he was not a consenting party to the counsel and deed of them," for that is the strict sense of the words of Luke 23:50 Luke 23:51 . Probably he absented himself, and Nicodemus also, from this meeting of the Council, the temper of which they would know too well to expect their voice to be listened to; and in that case, the words of our Evangelist are to be taken strictly, that, without one dissentient voice, "all [present] condemned him to be guilty of death."

The Blessed One Is Now Shamefully Entreated ( Mark 14:65 ).

Every word here must be carefully observed, and the several accounts put together, that we may lose none of the awful indignities about to be described.

65. some began to spit on him--or, as in Matthew 26:67 , "to spit in [into] His face." Luke ( Luke 22:63 ) says in addition, "And the men that held Jesus mocked him"--or cast their jeers at Him.
to cover his face--or "to blindfold him" (as in Luke 22:64 ).
to buffet him--Luke's word, which is rendered "smote Him" ( Luke 22:63 ), is a stronger one, conveying an idea for which we have an exact equivalent in English, but one too colloquial to be inserted here.
began to say unto him, Prophesy--In Matthew ( Matthew 26:68 ) this is given more fully: "Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote Thee?" The sarcastic fling at Him as "the Christ," and the demand of Him in this character to name the unseen perpetrator of the blows inflicted on Him, was in them as infamous as to Him it must have been, and was intended to be, stinging.
and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands--or "struck Him on the face" ( Luke 22:64 ). Ah! Well did He say prophetically, in that Messianic prediction which we have often referred to, "I gave My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not My face from shame and spitting!" ( Isaiah 50:6 ). "And many other things blasphemously spake they against Him" ( Luke 22:65 ). This general statement is important, as showing that virulent and varied as were the recorded affronts put upon Him, they are but a small specimen of what He endured on that dark occasion.

Peter's FIRST DENIAL of His Lord ( Mark 14:66-68 ).

66. And as Peter was beneath in the palace--This little word "beneath"--one of our Evangelist's graphic touches--is most important for the right understanding of what we may call the topography of the scene. We must take it in connection with Matthew's word ( Matthew 26:69 ): "Now Peter sat without in the palace"--or quadrangular court, in the center of which the fire would be burning; and crowding around and buzzing about it would be the menials and others who had been admitted within the court. At the upper end of this court, probably, would be the memorable chamber in which the trial was held--open to the court, likely, and not far from the fire (as we gather from Luke 22:61 ), but on a higher level; for (as our verse says) the court, with Peter in it, was "beneath" it. The ascent to the Council chamber was perhaps by a short flight of steps. If the reader will bear this explanation in mind, he will find the intensely interesting details which follow more intelligible.
there cometh one of the maids of the high priest--"the damsel that kept the door" ( John 18:17 ). The Jews seem to have employed women as porters of their doors ( Acts 12:13 ).

67. And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him--Luke ( Luke 22:56 ) is here more graphic; "But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire"--literally, "by the light," which, shining full upon him, revealed him to the girl--"and earnestly looked upon him"--or, "fixed her gaze upon him." His demeanor and timidity, which must have attracted notice, as so generally happens, leading," says OLSHAUSEN, "to the recognition of him."
and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth--"with Jesus the Nazarene," or, "with Jesus of Galilee" ( Matthew 26:69 ). The sense of this is given in John's report of it ( John 18:17 ), "Art not thou also one of this man's disciples?" that is, thou as well as "that other disciple," whom she knew to be one, but did not challenge, perceiving that he was a privileged person. In Luke ( Luke 22:56 ) it is given as a remark made by the maid to one of the by-standers--this man was also with Him." If so expressed in Peter's hearing--drawing upon him the eyes of every one that heard it (as we know it did, Matthew 26:70 ), and compelling him to answer to it--that would explain the different forms of the report naturally enough. But in such a case this is of no real importance.

68. But he denied--"before all" ( Matthew 26:70 ).
saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest--in Luke ( Luke 22:57 ), "I know Him not."
And he went out into the porch--the vestibule leading to the street--no doubt finding the fire-place too hot for him; possibly also with the hope of escaping--but that was not to be, and perhaps he dreaded that, too. Doubtless by this time his mind would be getting into a sea of commotion, and would fluctuate every moment in its resolves. First Denial.

Peter's SECOND DENIAL of His Lord ( mark 14:69 mark 14:70 ).

There is here a verbal difference among the Evangelists, which without some information which has been withheld, cannot be quite extricated.

69. And a maid saw him again--or, "a girl." It might be rendered "the girl"; but this would not necessarily mean the same one as before, but might, and probably does, mean just the female who had charge of the door or gate near which Peter now was. Accordingly, in Matthew 26:71 , she is expressly called "another [maid]." But in Luke ( Luke 22:58 ) it is a male servant: "And after a little while [from the time of the first denial] another"--that is, as the word signifies, "another male" servant. But there is no real difficulty, as the challenge, probably, after being made by one was reiterated by another. Accordingly, in John ( John 18:25 ), it is, "They said therefore unto him, &c.--"as if more than one challenged him at once.
and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them--or, as in Matthew 26:71 --"This [fellow] was also with Jesus the Nazarene."

70. And he denied it again--In Luke ( Luke 22:58 ), "Man, I am not." But worst of all in Matthew--"And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man" ( Matthew 26:72 ). This was the Second Denial, more vehement, alas! than the first.

Peter's THIRD DENIAL of His Lord ( Mark 14:70-72 ).

70. And a little after--"about the space of one hour after" ( Luke 22:59 ).
they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilean, and thy speech agreeth thereto--"bewrayeth [or 'discovereth'] thee" ( Matthew 26:73 ). In Luke ( Luke 22:59 ) it is, "Another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this [fellow] also was with him: for he is a Galilean." The Galilean dialect had a more Syrian cast than that of Judea. If Peter had held his peace, this peculiarity had not been observed; but hoping, probably, to put them off the scent by joining in the fireside talk, he was thus discovered. The Fourth Gospel is particularly interesting here: "One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman [or kinsman to him] whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with Him?" ( John 18:26 ). No doubt his relationship to Malchus drew his attention to the man who had smitten him, and this enabled him to identify Peter. "Sad reprisals!" exclaims BENGEL. Poor Peter! Thou art caught in thine own toils; but like a wild bull in a net, thou wilt toss and rage, filling up the measure of thy terrible declension by one more denial of thy Lord, and that the foulest of all.

71. But he began to curse--"anathematize," or wish himself accursed if what he was now to say was not true.
and to swear--or to take a solemn oath.
saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.

72. And the second time the cock crew--The other three Evangelists, who mention but one crowing of the cock--and that not the first, but the second and last one of Mark--all say the cock crew "immediately," but Luke ( Luke 22:60 ) says, "Immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew." Alas!--But now comes the wonderful sequel.

The Redeemer's Look upon Peter, and Peter's Bitter Tears ( 14:72 , Luke 22:61 Luke 22:62 ).

It has been observed that while the beloved disciple is the only one of the four Evangelists who does not record the repentance of Peter, he is the only one of the four who records the affecting and most beautiful scene of his complete restoration ( John 21:15-17 ).

And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept--To the same effect is the statement of the First Evangelist ( Matthew 26:75 ), save that like "the beloved physician," he notices the "bitterness" of the weeping ( Luke 22:62 ). The most precious link, however, in the whole chain of circumstances in this scene is beyond doubt that "look" of deepest, tenderest import reported by Luke alone ( Luke 22:61 ). Who can tell what lightning flashes of wounded love and piercing reproach shot from that "look" through the eye of Peter into his heart!

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