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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[Mat. 26:57. Mark 14:53. Luke 22:54. John 18:13]

THE troop of soldiers and servants first led Him bound before Annas, a former High Priest, and the father-in-law of Caiphas, the High Priest of that year. Annas questioned Jesus concerning His disciples and His doctrine. Jesus calmly told him that He had spoken openly, and he might question those who had heard Him. Then one of the servants who stood by gave Jesus a blow, saying: “Answerest thou the High Priest so?” Jesus meekly replied: “If I have spoken ill, give testimony of the evil; but if well, why strikest thou Me?”

Annas sent Jesus bound to Caiphas, who had meanwhile assembled the Great Council of the Jews. Now he and the whole council would willingly have found some pretext for putting Jesus to death; but they could find none, although many false witnesses had appeared against Him.

At last there came two false witnesses who affirmed that they had heard Jesus saying He would destroy the Temple, and after three days build it up again. But they still contradicting each other, the High Priest arose and said to Jesus: “Answerest Thou nothing to the things which these witness against Thee?” Jesus was silent. Then the High Priest said to him: “I adjure Thee by the living God, that Thou tell us if Thou be the Christ, the Son of the living God?” Jesus answered: “Thou hast said it. I say to you, hereafter you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Then the High Priest rent his garments, saying: “He hath blasphemed; what further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now you have heard the blasphemy; what think you?” They answered: “He is guilty of death.”

Our Blessed Lord’s own testimony to His Divinity. In the face of death Jesus affirmed on oath that He was the promised Redeemer and the Son of God, and in the most solemn manner possible ascribed to Himself divine power and majesty! To the question put to Him on oath by the High Priest He replied, not as an accused man might address his judge, but as a ruler would address his subject, and threatened His hardened accusers with the divine judgments He would hold in His Hand when coming again in the clouds of heaven! Truly that was not the speech of a man, but of God! The members of the Sanhedrim quite understood that Jesus declared Himself to be God, for it was on this plea that they condemned Him to death for blasphemy. And later on, when they accused Him to Pilate, they said: “We have a law, and according to the law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God!” So it was on account of His own testimony that our Blessed Lord was condemned to death. As His enemies could prove nothing against Him, they turned His testimony that He was the Son of God into a crime, for which they put Him to death. He met His Death, therefore, for bearing testimony to His Divinity!

The Gentleness of Jesus. Our Blessed Lord had proved His Godhead not only by His great miracles (and especially by the raising of Lazarus, which not even His enemies could contest), but by the extraordinary holiness of His life and by His truly divine virtues. When He was brought before Annas, Jesus showed a gentleness which has never been equalled. The ruffianly servant struck the Face of the Most High, with an unjust, painful and shameful blow; and Jesus bore this horrible treatment with patience. He did not upbraid or threaten the man, but pointed out to him the injustice of his action, with calm and gentle words. “Learn of Me, for I am meek and humble of Heart!”

Sharing the guilt of the sins of others. Annas sinned in this way by not punishing, nor even blaming, his servant for his unjust and illegal treatment of Jesus.

False witness. The two witnesses sinned against the eighth Commandment; and they sinned grievously, because they gave false evidence on a very important matter.

Oaths. The example of Jesus, Who accepted the oath applied to Him by the High Priest, teaches us that it is lawful and right to take an oath when it is required of us in a court of justice, by those in authority.

APPLICATION. It was for love of us that Jesus let Himself be bound, buffetted, struck in the Face, abused, blasphemed, and sentenced to death! He suffered all this to make satisfaction for our sins, and turn away from us the sentence of everlasting punishment which they had drawn down on us. Thank your Redeemer for His unbounded love, and prove, this very day, by your patience and gentleness, that you love Him in return.

Every wilful sin we commit is, so to speak, a blow struck on the Face of our Divine Lord. Whenever you are on the point of sinning, your conscience says to you: “Do not do it! God has forbidden it!” But then, perhaps, you reply: “All the same I will do it. What is it to me that God has forbidden it!” Do you not see that to act in this way is to strike the Face of God with a blow? And if you go on to commit the sin really, those words of our Blessed Lord are in truth addressed to you: “Why strikest thou Me?” O Lord Jesus, for love of Thee, I will never more commit a wilful sin!








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