Peter's Three Denials of Jesus; Jewish Authorities Abuse and Question Jesus--Luke 22:54-71
After relating the account of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and being arrested arranged by Judas Iscariot, Luke now relates the accounts of Peter denying Jesus three times, the Jewish authorities abusing Jesus, and the authorities questioning Jesus. This appears in Luke 22:54-71, and naturally falls into three parts. There are parallels in Mark 14:53-15:1a; Matthew 26:57-27:1; John 18:13-27. The order and specific details in these four accounts are quite different, but clearly deal with the same events.
I. Peter denies his relationship with Jesus three times. Luke 22:54-62.
a. First, Luke sets the stage. The Jewish authorities seized Jesus and led him to the house of the high priest. Luke does not name this high priest, but Matthew 26:57 identifies him as Caiaphas. As this was happening, Peter followed at a distance. Apparently, the other disciples of Jesus had fled. The people outside kindled a fire in the middle of the high priest's courtyard and sat down together. Peter was in this group. 22:54-55.
b. While they were waiting and talking, a servant-girl saw Peter in the firelight, stared at him, and said: "This man [Peter] was with him [Jesus]." Immediately, Peter denied this connection, and said abruptly, "Woman, I do not know him." Of course, this is a baldface lie. But Peter was afraid of what might happen if the authorities knew he was one of the Twelve whom Jesus called and with whom Jesus worked and taught for three years. Peter's courage failed. He said he would follow Jesus, but when times became challenging, he yielded to the temptation to deny his relationship with Jesus. 22:56-57.
c. After a little while, someone else, when he saw Peter, said: "You [Peter] also are one of them [the Twelve]." Immediately, Peter snapped back: "Man, I am not!" Here Peter distances himself from both Jesus and the other members of the Twelve. 22:58.
d. Approximately an hour later, another person, sizing up Peter, finally said: "SURELY this man [Peter] also was with him [Jesus]; for he is a Galileean." Matthew 26:73 states that the people in that crowd could detect that Peter was from Galilee because of his manner of speech. In our culture, people in Boston speak differently from people in Atlanta. This fact exists throughout the United States. So, it was clear that Peter was from Galilee, and thus it was clear that Peter had a relationship with Jesus. Luke 23:6 connects Jesus with Galilee--in North Israel. Peter immediately emphatically reacted, saying: "Man, I do not know what you are talking about!" Again, making a baldface lie. "At that very moment," while Peter was still speaking, the cock crowed. Peter immediately knew that Jesus had made this very prediction a few hours earlier in Luke 22:34. 22:59-60.
e. Somewhere else in the courtyard as Jesus was talking with the high priest, Jesus turned and looked at Peter. Peter immediately remembered what Jesus had predicted: "Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times." Peter rushed out and wept bitterly. Jesus had prayed for him, not that he would not defect, but having done so and been converted would then become a support for his spiritual brothers [the other members of the Twelve]. This led to Peter's remorse, and soon he will restore his fellow-brothers. 22:61-62.
II. The Jewish Authorities Abuse Jesus. Luke 22:63-65.
a. Luke now tells his audience how the Jewish authorities treated Jesus while he was before the high priest. First, those who held Jesus under arrest mocked and beat Jesus. Jesus told the Twelve that this is what would happen--Luke 18:32, and now this is fulfilled. Isaiah 50:5-6; 53:3-5 provide good pictures of the ways in which authorities treat their prisoners or enemies. 22:63.
b. Next, Luke explains that the Jewish authorities blindfolded Jesus, and then constantly asked him: "Prophesy! Who is that that struck you?" They are attempting to do everything they can think of to show their superiority of Jesus and his helplessness. 22:64.
c. Finally, Luke tells his audience that the Jewish authorities constantly heaped many other insults on Jesus. It is very difficult for committed followers of God to comprehend the hatred of Jesus' opponents when they arrested him and proceeded to put him to death. 22:65.
III. The Jewish Authorities Question Jesus. Luke 22:66-71.
a. After going through a very dismal night, early the next morning, the assembly of the elders of the people, chief priests, and scribes, gathered together, and brought Jesus to their council. 22:66.
b. The Jewish authorities ask Jesus two very pointed questions. The first is: "If you are the Messiah, tell us." Jesus responded: "If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I question you, you will not answer." Jesus already knew that they had made up their minds. They were not open to listen and think for themselves. We can learn a great lesson from this situation. Then Jesus said: "From now on, the Son of Man [Jesus] will be seated at the right hand of the power of God." What Jesus implies here is verified in 22:71. Jesus' statement about the Son of Man is deeply rooted in Daniel 7:13; Psalm 110:1. Jesus will be exalted to the highest power--see Luke 21:27. As universal judge, Jesus will judge and thus condemn his opponents--see Luke 12:8-9. See further Joshua 4:24; 1 Chronicles 12:23. 22:67-69.
c. Second, the Jewish authorities ask another question: "Are you, then, the Son of God?" Jesus replied: "You say that I am." Then they said: We do not need any further conversation; it is very clear that Jesus has condemned him by what he has said from his own lips. The terms "Messiah" and "Son of God" are common terms in the Hebrew Bible for a king of Israel. See 2 Samuel 7:14-15; Psalms 2:6-8; 89:26-29. Yahweh the Father is the heavenly king, and Jesus is his subordinate to carry out the Father's will. 22:70-71.
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