Matthew 26:57-75 Part 3

We’ve been going through the text… to see what it says.  And we’ve progressed (in the first two sermons) to verse sixty-six.  Jesus is bound and defenseless (and undefended): and He is alone – abandoned – and without help or support; and the Sanhedrin has passed sentence, late at night, in secret, in a voice vote; and Jesus has been deemed worthy of death by the nation’s highest court.

And now we see the “dignified” leaders and judges of Israel (having sentenced Him to death) now we see them leap to their feet and come at Him.  In a fury of irreverence to God, and in repudiation of all that is good and decent, and with vile and venomous savagery, they brutally attack Jesus and subject Him to every shame and humiliation.

(These are the “statesmen” in whom the glory and honor and justice of Israel is vested!)

And the secrecy and the late night and the “camaraderie” and the diabolic hatred for this Man all serve to lower any civil constraints that might normally have been in place and to erase the “shield” of hypocrisy and expose base depravity; and the evil cauldron boiled over and erupted with every vile thing.  And, as the text says, they spat in His face and savagely beat Him.  And with every contemptuous insult and indignity toward His Divine Perfections, they jeered and taunted and mocked Him.

They churned around Him – piranha-like – maddened and frenzied into an eruption of rage; they covered His face and His head with their thick, fetid spit; they pummeled Him with their hands and fists; and those who had the clubs and rods beat Him unmercifully.

And then, according to Mark, they covered His head (probably tied off at the neck), and they struck and beat Him repeatedly… (verse sixty-eight) taunting Him and mocking His Divine prophetic qualifications.  With His head covered and therefore having no sight, could He use His Messianic powers and name the ones who struck Him…?!  Mocking… taunting.

And all this continued for an undetermined length of time… certainly until the crowd tired of it; Matthew doesn’t say how long.

But with every stroke and bruise and cut… and every taunt… with every despicable act lies the unmistakable fulfillment of God’s prophetic Word.  In the prophets themselves we see lives lived out as types of the coming fullness of all things.  And the words they spoke, as they were moved of the Spirit, were pre-figurings of that which was to come.

Although we will say much more about this in the weeks ahead of us, the essence of what occurred here before Caiaphas is the punishment and humiliation of the Blameless One; “for He was bruised for our iniquity, and by His stripes we are healed….”

It was Caiaphas himself who said, written in another Gospel, that it was necessary for one to die for the nation.  Caiaphas!  But by that he meant that in the present, tenuous situation with Rome this fellow Jesus of Nazareth (Who was followed by a huge crowd of rabid fanatics) would have to be eliminated to retain political balance and save the nation (which was teetering on the brink of disaster).  And what was it but just one… small price to pay – one loathsome, insolent Galilean Jew for the nation!

But little did he know that the event taking place at his instigation was fulfillment of the prophetic Word of God through Isaiah.  For the humiliation of the Blameless One had been prophesied in Isaiah chapter fifty:


“The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned back away.  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.  For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded:  therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.”


As Isaiah set himself to speak God’s Word, he typifies and prefigures all the indignities of the Christ to come.  For our Lord did not set Himself against His calling, to turn away or remove Himself timidly from the suffering to come; but He set Himself in immoveable obedience and drew near to the shame.

He didn’t hide His face from the spit; He offered His back and head (and every other part of His body) to the stripes and bruises; and without being subdued and frightened and ashamed, He offered Himself; and He set Himself against being overcome by it all (that’s what it means when He says, “I shall not be confounded”).

As I said, we’ll be coming back to this issue again – the humiliation of the Christ – it was necessary and it was prophesied.  But potentiating its great importance is the fact that Jesus would not be “confounded” by it!  He would not be overcome by it.

Innocent… Blameless… He set His countenance like “flint” (according to the prophet); and He offered His face to the spittle, and His body to be bruised.  He offered it… knowing the requirements of the Father.

And because of this we know what it means to be humble.  There is great fear of being humiliated by the world.  We consider it too expensive to be shamed or rejected by even one person!  But that’s not humility… that’s self-exaltation!

To stand for what is right and just and holy – at the cost of being viewed as an oddity… we begin to doubt our own position and turn away from any confrontation; we get “weak-kneed” and embarrassed, and we want to “turn back away” from it.  But that’s not humility… that’s self-exaltation!

Our Lord was led like a sheep to the slaughter; and He turned His face toward the humiliation – knowing it was the Father’s will!  He set His face like “flint” on the Father’s requirements; and He refused to exalt Himself in His great humiliation.  That’s humility!

We, on the other hand, avoid one insignificant person viewing us as a fanatic for Christ – not to mention having the entire governmental structure coming down on us.  And that’s not humility… that’s self-exaltation!

And God said, “if My people would humble themselves before Me….”  Jesus Christ had the men of the highest court of the land hating Him and beating Him and spitting on Him… soon to kill Him; was He humble?  He didn’t blink; He didn’t flinch; He wasn’t astonished and overcome (confounded)….  He didn’t exalt Himself by being embarrassed.  He didn’t “turn back away” from the Father’s will.


“Who do men say Me to be,” Jesus asked His disciples.  And they answered.  “Who do you say Me to be?”  “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living One,” they said.  And Jesus responded, “Flesh and blood did not reveal it to you, but My Father in the Heavens.”


God the Father revealed it.  No matter what men say, the Truth is what God said.  Should the world say this; but God says that; before whom will you humble yourself?

Before the councils of the world, and before the scrutiny of men, will you exalt yourself by being embarrassed before men – turning back away?  Or will you humble yourself before God and “set your face” against the taunting humiliation and the shame?

It’s a certainly that the world degrades and discredits and scandalizes those who hold to the Revelation of God in Scripture.  It is senseless to them for anyone to hold to those things; any reason or argument is better than God’s Word.  Poor, uneducated trash – or simply fools – use those old, anachronistic platitudes as fundamental truth and as solutions to modern problems.  Bring “the Bible” into play and eyes roll back in dismay and embarrassment.

And we turn back away; we’re astonished and confounded (overtaken by it).  But that’s not humility… that’s self-exaltation.  It’s self-esteem.

But our Lord – the Innocent, Blameless One – turned His face toward the shame; and He offered His back to the stripes.  And He was not confounded.  He didn’t shrink from the humiliation.  Like a sheep led to the shearers He said not a word; but stayed in humble reliance upon the Word of the Father.

And the question then for us is (and always has been):  Are we better than He?  Do we exalt ourselves above Him and “turn back away” from the humiliation and shame heaped upon us by the world?  Or are we to share in His humiliation and set our faces like flint – humbly relying on the Revelation of our Father?

As I said, we’ll be coming back to this again.  But let’s go on and finish seeing what the text says.

Verse sixty-nine:


“Now Peter was sitting away in the courtyard, and there came to him one girl saying, ‘And you, you were with Jesus of Galilee.’  But he denied before all saying, ‘I know not what you are saying.’”


This brings up the account of Peter (begun back in verse fifty-eight) where he had come in (with the help of John) and sat down around the fire with the crowd.  He apparently thought, since it was late at night and dark (except for the fire), that he could get away with being there without anyone paying attention to him.

But he was mistaken!  From the Gospel of John we learn that it was the very same girl that had let him in the gate that here exposes him.  She must have recognized him from somewhere – maybe when Jesus and the disciples first came into the temple five days ago.

Now, we don’t know why she came over to Peter, who was sitting by the fire, and exposed him.  Apparently she knew John, because he’s the one who convinced her to let Peter in.  But the girl makes no issue of John being there.  And we just don’t know enough of the history here to comment on the dynamics and the personal relationships that were going on.

But was the girl afraid that it might be discovered that she let the wrong people in?  In exposing Peter in this way did she decide that she needed to cover herself and her actions?  Or was she teasing with Peter and trying to make him uncomfortable, assuming he was trying to hide his identity?

Or was it that this simple gate attendant just simply saw a way to make herself look important to a crowd of men at a significant event of state?  In any event the men in the temple complex didn’t know that right in their own midst was one of Jesus’ disciples; and he was witnessing an unlawful proceeding!  And the girl did know, and exposing Peter made her more valuable.

And no doubt those that heard her turned around to see, and cocked their ears when she made her assertion.  And no doubt the suddenness of his exposure, it’s public nature before the men about the fire, and the feeling that he was in danger, upset Peter and filled him with panic!  And he saw no way out except to lie out!

You see what Matthew writes.  Mark says, “I don’t know, neither do I understand what you’re saying.”  Luke says, “I don’t know Him.”  And John writes, “I am not.” (i.e. I am not one of His disciples.)

But it took only a young girl attendant to fell the mighty disciple – the spokesman for the twelve.  Gone were all the heroic protestations to Jesus that he would die with Him; gone was the courage of his heart… and from the hand that had drawn the sword in Gethsemane.  Here sits one cringing with fear and lying; denying he even knew the One whom he had called “the Christ, the Son of God the Living One.”

Peter was in mortal danger.  And in that case panic does bring out our best efforts toward self-preservation.

Now, it seems that the second recognition of Peter occurs at the end.  As verse seventy-one says,


“Having come out into the vestibule (or the entryway) another saw him (i.e. another girl) and says to those who were there, ‘This one was with Jesus of Nazareth.”  And again he denied with an oath, ‘I know not the Man.’”


Peter, now having seen the entire proceedings (the “end” of it) and having had attention called to him once, tries to sneak away unobserved.  The “vestibule” is the way back out into the temple complex proper… and then out into the streets of Jerusalem.

But this very move precipitates the second exposure!  And there must have been several attendants in the vestibule at this point because Mark mentions a man; and the first girl surely was there – and the second one (another female attendant).  Perhaps the first girl had alerted the second to the fact that she had recognized one of Jesus’ disciples.  That’s speculative.

And the second cries out “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth!”  Apparently there were a number of others who were making their way out at the same time.  And they heard it.  And now Peter’s situation was even more desperate than it was before!  And for the second time he denies that he knows “the Man.”  (He can’t even say His Name.)  And it looks as if he thought he needed to swear by it this time, for Matthew states that he denied with “an oath”.

Mark does mention here that a cock crowed.  But Peter was inside the vestibule in a very delicate situation, and he didn’t hear it.  He was too busy lying and extricating himself from this new crisis.

Now reading verses seventy-three and seventy-four:


“And after a little those standing (having come near) said to Peter, ‘Surely you are also of them, for indeed your speech makes you plain.’  Then he began to curse and to swear, ‘I know not the Man!’”


So those who were in the vestibule and had heard the second girl accuse Peter of being Jesus’ disciple came forward to accuse him.  They had heard the first one out around the fire; and now they were hearing the second one.  And they had heard Peter speak.  And they recognized the accent, or the dialect, as being Galilean!

So there has been one… now two… accusations; now a verification that Peter was certainly from Galilee, because of his accent.  Regardless of his denials, where he’s from is a fact!

And now we see that Peter, in complete panic, is ready to do or say anything to get away (he’s seen everything that happened to Jesus).  He is seen as a groveling coward who swears and calls down the Name of God to verify his lie.

Somehow (we’re not told how), he gets away without being arrested on suspicion and held for inquiry.  Perhaps after his vociferous oaths he just walked away.

In any case a cock crowed.  And he heard it.  And he remembered Jesus’ words, “Before a cock crows you will deny me three times.”  Matthew uses REMA (words), the authoritative, spoken Word of God the Son.

Luke adds that, at this point, Jesus (probably being led away) caught Peter’s eye.  Bound, and with spittle covering Him, and black and blue with contusions and cuts all over His face and head, and (as Isaiah prophesies) maybe His beard pulled form His face – He looked at Peter – Peter remembering the words.

Nothing else is said about it in the Scriptures; but I think that we can safely say that the man never forgot that face and that look.

Peter finally makes it out somehow; and he wept bitterly.  Some try to read “repentance” here.  But this is bitter sorrow.  We cannot read something the text doesn’t say.  And Matthew specifically states that he went out and wept bitterly – omitting anything else.

Nevertheless, we see the apostle Peter, fifty days later (Acts chapter on) preaching the Gospel of the resurrected Christ.

Next Lord’s Day we’ll spend some time in Theological Exegesis in connection with this text.