They led Jesus away to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes convened. Peter followed Him at a distance, right into the high priest’s courtyard. He was sitting with the temple police, warming himself by the fire.
Peter's desire is to be near Jesus. He wants to be loyal, but he is afraid. He ran away in the garden but not entirely. He is trying to blend in and not be noticed, not have to admit he knows Jesus and maybe suffer the consequences. I feel for Peter, because how often have I wanted to blend in and let my Christianity go unnoticed. When yet another professed Christian does or says something cruel - something far outside of love - it is right about then I want to hide.
Maybe Peter was still not quite sure who Jesus was. He had professed earlier his belief that Jesus was the Messiah, but Peter is still wobbly about what that looks like. He isn't clear yet what Jesus' true purpose is.
Sometimes I get wobbly in my faith when I start to see God as we humans say He is and not as God Himself says He is. I try to make Him into what I want Him to be, rather than who He has shown me He truly is.
The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but they could find none. For many were giving false testimony against Him, but the testimonies did not agree. Some stood up and were giving false testimony against Him, stating, “We heard Him say, ‘I will demolish this sanctuary made by human hands, and in three days I will build another not made by hands.’” Yet their testimony did not agree even on this.
We are really good at lying, especially to ourselves. We see it here in the testimony of the witnesses. They don't like what Jesus has been saying and doing. All those miracles from this unsophisticated, small town guy is really getting to them. All that talk about love and mercy and the least will be greatest is not what they want in a Messiah. They want power.
So they take things into their own hands. They re-write the story, making it say what they want. They are proud and afraid and that is a scary mix. They are unwilling to see God outside of who they have made Him be. They refuse to see Him as He really is - humble, meek, honest, loving.
Then the high priest stood up before them all and questioned Jesus, “Don’t You have an answer to what these men are testifying against You?” But He kept silent and did not answer anything. Again the high priest questioned Him, “Are You the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”
“I am,” said Jesus, “and all of you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What is your decision?”
And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death. Then some began to spit on Him, to blindfold Him, and to beat Him, saying, “Prophesy!” The temple police also took Him and slapped Him.
Painful words to read. Every time.