Luke 22:54-71 - Peter's Sorrow and Jesus' Declaration
54Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. 55But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. 56A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, "This man was with him."
57But he denied it. "Woman, I don't know him," he said.
58A little later someone else saw him and said, "You also are one of them."
"Man, I am not!" Peter replied.
59About an hour later another asserted, "Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean."
60Peter replied, "Man, I don't know what you're talking about!" Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times." 62And he went outside and wept bitterly.
63The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. 64They blindfolded him and demanded, "Prophesy! Who hit you?" 65And they said many other insulting things to him.
66At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. 67"If you are the Christ," they said, "tell us."
Jesus answered, "If I tell you, you will not believe me, 68and if I asked you, you would not answer. 69But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God."
70They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?"
He replied, "You are right in saying I am."
71Then they said, "Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips." (NIV)
1. When it comes to the matter of being faithful to Jesus, His disciples have no grounds for self-confidence.
Contrast Peter's cockiness ("I am ready to go with you to prison and to death" - 22:33) with his inability to stay awake (v. 40, 46), and, of course, his three-time denial that he knows Jesus (vv. 56-60).
It was not Peter's spoken desire to suffer with Jesus that was problematic; after all, the Apostle Paul says to the church in Rome that in order for them to share in Christ's glory, they must be willing to share in His suffering (Rom 8:17). The problem, rather, was that Peter thought he was capable, in and of himself, of doing so. He failed at this time to understand what the Apostle Paul would later realize - that only God can give His people what He requires of them:
"...We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead." (2 Cor 1:8-9, emphasis added)
"we are (not) competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God." (2 Cor 3:5, emphasis added)
Reflection question: Do I often find myself thinking that I can do God's work in my own strength? What consequences have I experienced as a result of such thinking, and how have these served to teach me humility and dependence on the LORD?
2. What the LORD predicts comes to pass.
What Peter did was exactly what Christ had predicted back in verse 34: "Jesus answered, 'I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.'"
Although this truth is illustrated in a sobering way here, with the fall of Peter, it should be cause for great encouragement for us - especially as it relates to what Jesus says about His soon-to-be rule at the right hand of God (v. 69) and, as a result, His coming in glory (Matt 26:64).
3. By accepting His shameful treatment at the hands of the guards, Jesus shows His great love to sinners, and leaves an example for His people of what it means to submit to authority.
Regarding how verses 63 to 65 show Jesus' love to sinners, J.C. Ryle comments:
"Our Lord's calm submission to insults like those here described, shows the depth of His love towards sinners. Had He so willed, He could have stopped the insolence of His enemies in a moment. He who could cast out devils with a word, could have summoned legions of angels to His side, and scattered those wretched tools of Satan to the winds. But our Lord's heart was set on the great work he had come on earth to do. He had undertaken to purchase our redemption by His own humiliation, and He did not flinch from paying the uttermost farthing of the price. He had undertaken to drink the bitter cup of vicarious suffering to save sinners, and "for the joy set before Him He despised the shame," and drank the cup to the very dregs. (Heb. 12:2.)" (Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Luke)
Regarding the example that Jesus leaves for His followers in these same verses, the Apostle Peter himself elaborates on this in one of his letters to the church: "Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God....To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 'He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.' When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly." (1 Pet 1:21-23, emphasis added)
Reflection question: What are some modern-day possibilities, in our culture, of how we as Christians might experience unjust suffering from those in authority? How can we show submission when this happens?
4. Jesus confirms that He is the Christ, the Son of God, and the Son of Man.
The following quotation expresses well what titles of Jesus we are reminded of when He and the council communicate with each other from verses 66 to 71:
"'Son of God', 'the Christ' (the Messiah; v. 67), and 'Son of Man' all refer to Jesus, emphasizing different aspects of his person and role. 'Son of God' points to Jesus' unique relationship to God and (when rightly understood) his equality with God the Father in his very being. The term 'Christ' indicates that Jesus claimed to be the Son of David, the Messiah. 'Son of Man' points to the person identified in Dan. 7:13–14, who will rule the kingdom of God." (ESV Study Bible, pp. 2008-09)
Reflection question: Why is it important for us to know the meanings of these titles for Christ, and take them to heart?
Reflection question: What other names are given to Jesus throughout Scripture? How does each of these names/titles encourage you?
Next week: Luke 23:1-24
Posted by Sean McCausland at 1:37 PM