3181. A Sermon For A Winter’s Evening

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No. 3181-56:37. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, January 20, 1910.

And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals, for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself. {Joh 18:18}

1. We note from this incident that it was a cold night when our Redeemer agonized in the garden of Gethsemane. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2767, “Jesus in Gethsemane” 2768} A cold night, and yet he sweat! A cold night, and yet there fell from him, not the sweat of a man who earns the staff of life; but the sweat of One who was earning life itself. “His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” No natural heat of the sun, or of a sultry evening, caused this, but the heat with in his soul distilled those sacred drops. His heart’s throbs were so mighty that it seemed to empty itself, and his life-floods rushed with such awful force that the veins, like overfilled rivers, burst their banks, and covered his blessed person with gory drops. On such a wintry night as this, while you wrap your garments around you, I would ask you to remember the olive garden, and the lone Sufferer, all unsheltered, entering into the dread anguish by which he won our souls from death and hell. The sharp frost may be a useful monitor to us if it makes us think of him, and remember that dark, that doleful night, when all the powers of evil met, and, even to blood, he strove with them for our sakes.

2. Now we will take you away from the garden to the high priest’s hall where the incident occurred which is recorded in the text, and we will make as good a use as we can of it. I suppose it was a large dark hall in which the soldiers, and the priests, and the rabble were gathered together. There may have been a few lamps lighting up the farther end, where Christ was with his judge and his accusers; but the greater part of the hall would have no other light than the glare of the fire which had been kindled,—a charcoal fire, around which the band of men who had seized Christ, and the servants of the high priest, gathered, to keep themselves warm. We are going to make five observations on that, and on the fact that Peter was among those who warmed themselves at that fire.

3. I. The first observation is this. THIS IS A TYPICAL INCIDENT CONCERNING MOST MEN.

4. Jesus Christ was being tried. Some were very busy about it, being full of malice and burning with rage; but a great many more were indifferent, and in the presence of a rejected and mistreated Saviour were carelessly warming their hands. It was not a matter that interested them, they did not care whether he escaped or was condemned; it was very cold, and so they warmed their hands. Now, in a land like this, where Jesus Christ is preached, it is a sad circumstance that there are individuals who oppose him and his gospel. There is the infidel, who denies the gospel altogether; there is the superstitious man, who sets up another way of salvation; and there is the persecutor, who rages at Christ and his people. Yet these active enemies are comparatively few; the great majority of those who hear the gospel are not open opponents, but like Gallio, care for none of these things. They know that there is a Christ, and they have some idea of his salvation, but it does not interest them, or awaken any sympathy in their minds. “What shall we eat, and what shall we drink?”—these are the great questions of their catechism; but as for who this glorious Sufferer is, and why he died, and what all the blessings which he bought with his precious blood, none of these things move them, and they forget, neglect, or despise the great salvation and the Saviour too. They are full of the business of warming their hands! The death of Jesus may be important to other people, it may concern ministers, and clergymen, and professors; but it is nothing at all to them, they have other matters to attend to, and their own comfort is their main concern. Around that charcoal brazier the servants of the high priest warmed their hands; and so, in their temporal comforts, or in murmuring at the lack of them, most men spend their lives. To them it is nothing that Jesus should die; a rise in their wages, a fall in provisions, or a change in the money market is far more important to them.

5. If you think of it, this is a very terrible thing. Christ comes into the world to save men, yet men do not think it worth their while to turn their gaze on him. He takes their nature, but his incarnation does not interest them; he dies so that men may not perish, and men care not one bit for his great love. One goes away to his farm, and another to his merchandise; one has bought a yoke of oxen, and goes to test them; and another has married a wife, and therefore he cannot come. They are eager for the bread which perishes, but they make light of the food which endures to life everlasting; they think much of this world, but nothing of the world to come. Jesus is over there on his trial, and they are warning their hands.

6. Please think this over for a few minutes, any of you who have been indifferent to the great realities of redemption, and see what it is and who it is whom you treat with discourtesy. It is the Son of God, the Redeemer of men, whom you neglect. Can you imitate those who rattled the dice-box at the foot of the cross, in utter hardness of heart, though Christ’s blood was falling on them as they cast lots on his vesture? Can you trifle in the presence of a dying Saviour? Can you, did I say? Alas! some have done so for thirty, forty, fifty, and even sixty years; and unless the almighty grace of God prevents, they will still continue to trifle,—to sport, and play, and seek their own ease in the presence of the bleeding Son of God, within earshot of his dying groans.

7. See, he dies, and they place his body in the sepulchre; but, on the third day, according to his promise, he rises again from the dead. That risen Saviour is surrounded by the glory of promises unspeakably precious, for he has risen for the justification of his people, and as the first-fruits of those who slept,—the great pledge that all those who sleep in him shall rise as he has risen. An august mystery,—a mystery which brought angels out of heaven, the one to sit at the head and the other at the foot, where his body had lain; and yet men eat, drink, sleep, and wake as if no risen Jesus had been here. In the presence of the risen Christ many only warm their hands, for it is cold. The animal has mastered the mental; the body, which is the baser part of man, and cleaves to the dust, has subdued the soul, and so the man allows himself to trifle in the presence of Jesus risen from the dead.

8. Nor is this all, for he who rose from the dead ascended after forty days. A cloud received him out of the sight of his disciples, and he rose into glory, and now he sits at the right hand of the Father, reigning there head over all principalities and powers, King of kings and Lord of lords. Men do not generally trifle in the presence of a king; if they have petitions to present, they put on an air of reverence. In the presence of the Royal Intercessor, who pleads for us day and night, one would think there would be some interest aroused; but no, the multitude warm their hands, and think nothing of him. In his presence, they forget his redeeming love, neglect his great salvation, and remain without God and without Christ. This is terrible! As I see the worldling, merely caring for his personal comfort while Christ is in glory, I marvel, first, at the insolence of the sinner, and, secondly, at the infinite patience of the Saviour.

9. The Lord Jesus is to come a second time to judge the earth in righteousness; when he shall appear, no man knows, but he will come, and every one of us must stand before him. If we are alive and remain, we shall join in that great throng, and if we fall asleep before his coming, we shall rise from the dead, at the sound of the trumpet which proclaims his advent, and shall all be judged by the Most High. The hour of his appearing is not revealed, in order that we may always stand on tiptoe, expecting it to be today, or tomorrow, for he has said, “Behold, I come quickly.” Oh, how can you still be money-grubbing, pleasure-seeking, enjoying yourselves, living only for this world, living to get a competence, living to be what is called “respectable,” and to feed yourselves like the beasts of the field? Have you no thoughts for the Judge, and the day of his coming? Shall our immortal spirits spend all their energies on these trifling temporary things in prospect of that great tremendous day, when Christ with clouds shall come? Surely the solemnities of judgment should constrain us to think of something nobler than earth and time.

10. There was no harm in their warming their hands, neither is there any harm in our attending to the things of this life; indeed, they ought to be seen to, and seen to with care; but there is something higher, something nobler and loftier for us to do than to serve ourselves; and just as it was horrible that we should be so callous in the presence of the suffering Jews, so the wide-spread indifference of sinners is a terrible thing. I wish that the unthinking portion of those who hear the gospel might be startled out of their grovelling care for the things of this life, and each one of them be led to ask, “What have I to do with this Jesus of Nazareth? Is his blood sprinkled on me? Has he cleansed me from my sin? May I hope for salvation through him?” Oh, consider these things, and give an answer to your consciences; and may God do so with you as you shall think of Christ your Lord.


12. One does not wonder at the high priest’s servants making a fire of coals, for it was cold; and one is not surprised at their standing to warm their hands, for they knew very little, comparatively, of Christ. They had never tasted of his love, they had never seen his miracles, they had not been asked to watch with him in the garden of Gethsemane, they had never heard him say, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you”: the marvel is that Peter should stand there among them warming his hands. Why did he do so? Not because he was indifferent to his Master. Let us do him justice; it is plain that he was in a dreadful state of mind that night. He was so attached to his Master that he followed him up to the door of the hall, and stayed there until John came out, and admitted him. He went up to the fire because he thought he must act as others did, so as to escape suspicion; and as they warned their hands, he did the same, so as to appear as one of them. It so happened, however, that the light of the fire shone on his face, and lit up his countenance, so that one said, “You are one of his disciples.” Then, to get away from observation, we find Peter going into another part of the hall, where, I suppose, it was darker. The people were talking, and Peter also needed to talk, for it was his weakness to do so, and, moreover, he might have been suspected again had he been silent. Then another remarked, “You also are of Galilee, for your speech betrays you.” He was discovered again, and so made for the door, but was known there also. He was trembling all over. He did love his Master, weak as his faith was, and therefore he could not leave him, and yet he was afraid to confess him. He was worried and troubled, tossed to and fro between a desire to rush forward and do some rash thing for his Lord and a fear of his own life. He went to the fire, because no one would think that a follower of Jesus could warm his hands while his Master was being despitefully entreated.

13. You see the gist of my observation, that for a disciple of Christ to make his own ease and comfort the main thing is most palpably inconsistent with the Christian character. Ah, dear brethren, our Lord had nowhere to lay his head; though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor; can it be consistent for the Christian to make the getting of money the main business of life? Is such a disciple like his Master? The Master gives up everything, shall the disciple labour to aggrandize himself?

14. Some warm their hands, not at the fire of wealth so much as at the fire of honour. They want approbation, respect, esteem, and they will do anything to gain it. Conscience is violated, and principle is forgotten, to gain the approbation of their fellow men. Whatever happens, they must be respected and admired. Is this as it should be? Are they really disciples of the Nazarene? Is that their Master, despised and rejected, spit on and jeered? Is he their Lord who made himself of no reputation? If so, how can they court the smiles of men, and sacrifice truth to popularity? What can be more insistent,—the disciple warming his hands, and the Master enduring the hostility of sinners against himself? Dear brethren, every time our cheek crimsons with shame because of the taunts of the wicked, and we lower our colours because of the jeers of the godless, we are guilty at heart of the baseness of seeking to fare better than our Lord. Every time we check a testimony because it would involve us in censure, every time we cease from a labour because we covet ease, every time we are impatient at the suffering which the cross involves, every time we “make provision for the flesh, to obey its lusts,” every time we seek ease where he toiled, honour where he was put to shame, and luxury where he endured an ignominious death, we are like Peter among the ribald throng, warming our hands at the fire while our Lord is buffeted and shamefully entreated. May the Holy Spirit keep us from this!


16. Peter, if he had known it, was better off outside the door than in the hall. I suppose he had forgotten the Master’s warnings; for if he had thought of them, he would have said to himself, “Peter, you had better go home. Did not Jesus, in fact, tell you to go home, when he said to those who came to seize him, ‘If you seek me, let these go their way’?” It would seem to have been the path of humble obedience to have gone his way, and not to have pressed into the hall. Though no doubt the motives which led both Peter and John into the high priest’s house were commendable, Peter’s position among the soldiers and hangers-on around the fire was extremely full of peril, and offered no corresponding advantages. Did he not know that “Bad company corrupts good character?” Did he not know that the men who had taken his Lord prisoner were not fit associates for him? Should he not have felt that, though he might have his hands warmed, he would be likely to get his heart blackened by mixing with such company?

17. Brethren, I like to warm my hands; but if I cannot warm them without burning them, I would rather keep them cold. Many things are in a measure desirable; but if you cannot obtain them without exposing yourself to the smut of sin, you had better leave them alone. I have known professors far too anxious to mix with what is called “good society.” Now, for the most part, good society, as things are nowadays, is very bad society for a Christian. The best society in the world for me, I know, is to associate with my brethren in Christ. Title, rank, and wealth, are a poor compensation for the lack of true religion. Yet some professors covet the honours of the ungodly world, and they say, “It is not so much for ourselves, we are advanced in years; but we want to bring the girls out, and our young men, you know,—our sons—must have some society.” Yes, and for the sake of this dangerous luxury our churches are deprived of successors to godly fathers. Instead of seeing the younger members of Christian households drafted into our ranks, we continually have to begin again with new converts from the outer world. Very often, professors whom God prospers in this world train their children so that they forsake the spiritual worship of God, and turn their backs on principles for which their forefathers dared to bleed and die. I charge you, brethren, remember that, if you cannot be admitted into “society” without concealing your principles, you are far better off without society. Has not our Lord called us to go outside the camp? Are we not warned against being conformed to this world? Deny yourselves the warm place around society’s charcoal brazier, for its sulphurous vapour will do you more harm than the cold.

18. Some whom I have known have ventured very far on very dangerous ground to win the affection of a chosen object. There is no wiser precept in Holy Scripture than what commands Christians to marry “only in the Lord.” It never can be conducive to the comfort of any Christian man or woman to be unequally yoked together with an unbeliever; you had far better remain in the cold of your bachelor or spinster life than warm your hands at the fire of unhallowed marriage.

19. Not a few are tempted by the cleverness of certain literature to defile their minds with sceptical and even blasphemous writings. Such and such a “Quarterly” or “Fortnightly” is so very clever that you are regarded as a Philistine and an ignoramus if you do not read it. Yet, if you do read it, you are none the better, but very much the worse, for your pains; why then yield to its more than doubtful influence? Do you pray any the better for such reading? Do you have more faith in God after perusing such works? No; but doubts which would not otherwise have occurred to you are sown in your mind, difficulties which only exist in ungodly brains are conjured up, and the time which ought to have been spent in devotion, and in growing in grace, and in bringing others to Jesus, you waste in battling for the very life of your faith, which you have needlessly exposed to assault. I do not believe it to be essential to roll in a ditch every day for the sake of proving the efficacy of the clothes brush, neither is it worthwhile to seek out infidel doubts in order so try our logical powers on them. Some tell us that we must keep abreast of the times; but if the times run the wrong way, I see no reason why we should run with them. Rather let us leave the times, and dwell in the eternities. If I can be cheered and refreshed by good literature, and be all the better and wiser for it, I am thankful; but if I must, in warming my hands, defile them with unbelief, I will sooner let them become blue with cold.

20. Perhaps, dear friends, our liability to be injured by what renders us comfortable is one reason why God does not subject some of his best people to the trials of prosperity. Have you not sometimes wished that you were rich? I daresay you have; but perhaps you never will be. You did prosper once, but it came to an end. Once or twice the prize of wealth seemed within your reach, others seized it, and you are still working hard, and earning a bare crust. We do not know what you might have been if you had been allowed to succeed. In warming your hands you might have burned them. Many Christians have been impoverished by their wealth, and brought to inward wretchedness by outward prosperity. You have flourished best in the soil in which the Lord has kept you; anywhere else you might have run to seed. Some years since, when the first larch tree was introduced into England, the person who had brought home the specimen put it into his hothouse to grow. It did not flourish, and no wonder, for it delights in a colder atmosphere; the gardener therefore pulled up the spindly thing by the roots, and threw it on the dunghill; and there, to everyone’s surprise, it grew wonderfully. It was created to flourish under trying circumstances, and perhaps you are of the same order. Learn the lesson, and be content to be where you are.


22. Here was Peter warming his hands, and he thought that no one would know him; but his face, as we said before, was illuminated by the light of the fire, and one said, “Surely you are one of his disciples.” The fire did not merely warm, but it threw light on him, and showed him up; and so, when it comes to pass that a Christian gets into association with the ungodly, and appears with them, his sin will find him out. I have noticed, in a very wide sphere of observation, that bad men may do wrong for years, and not be discovered, and that hypocrites may contrive to carry on their hypocrisy half a lifetime without being unmasked; but a true man, a real child of God, if he shall only do a tenth as much wrong as others, will be certain to be detected. Peter tried to look uncommonly comfortable and calm while at the fire, but he could not do it; he exposed himself by the twitches of his face, and the very look of him; and when he spoke, as we have already said, the tones of his voice betrayed him. A Philistine helmet will not sit well on an Israelite, he wears it awkwardly, and is known though in disguise. Ah, Christian man, you had better stick with your own company; it is of no use for you to try to travel incognito through this world, for it will detect you. Never go where you will be ashamed to be seen, for you will be seen. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; a lit candle must be seen. A speckled bird will be noticed where no note is taken of others. Worldlings have lynx eyes with which to spy out erring professors, and they are sure to proclaim your faults, for they are sweet morsels for them. “Report it! Report it!” they say. In vain you will try to pass yourself off as a stranger to Christ, your speech will betray you, and the finger of scorn will be justly pointed at you for your inconsistency; therefore, stick with your own company, and do not walk in the way of the wicked.

23. V. The fifth point is this,—and you all know it to be true,—IT IS A GREAT DEAL EASIER TO WARM YOUR HANDS THAN YOUR HEARTS.

24. A few coals in a brazier suffice to warm Peter’s hands; but even the infinite love of Jesus did not warm his heart just then. Oh sirs, what was the scene at the end of the hall? Was that not enough to set all hearts aglow? It was a bush that burned with fire, and was not consumed. It was the Son of God struck on the mouth, and vilely slandered, and yet bearing it all for love for us. Oh sirs, there was a furnace at the other end of the hall,—a furnace of love divine! If Peter had only looked at his Master’s face, marred with agony, and seen on it the mark of his terrible night’s sweat, surely, had his heart been right, it must have burned within him. One marvels that, with such a sight before him,—if Peter had been Peter,—if he had only been true to that true heart of his, he would have braved the malice of the throng, placed himself side by side with his Lord, and said, “Do to me whatever you do to him. If you strike him, strike me. Take me, and let me suffer with him.” If he might not have done that, one would not have wondered if Peter had sat there and wept until he broke his heart to see his Master treated like that. But, alas! the sight of his Lord, accused and betrayed, did not warm Peter’s heart.

25. My brethren, we sometimes wish that we had actually seen our Lord, but seeing Christ in the flesh was of little value for Peter. It happened when the Holy Spirit used the glance of Jesus as a special means of grace that Peter’s heart was thawed, and his eyes dropped with tears of repentance. Oh Lord and Master, though a physical sight of you would not warm us, if you should walk up these aisles, and should show your pierced hands in this pulpit; yet, if your blessed Spirit will come over us tonight, we shall see you by faith; and the sight will make our hearts burn within us, winter though it is. Come, sacred Spirit, shed abroad the love of Jesus in our souls, and so our love shall be kindled, and burn vehemently. Grant it therefore, we pray you, for your love’s sake! Amen.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Joh 18:1-27}

1. When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, into which he entered, and his disciples.

From our Lord’s example, we should learn, when trouble is near, to meet it with composure. Our Saviour did not sit still; but, as the hour approached for his betrayal and death, “he went out with his disciples.” The passing over the black brook of Kidron, through which flowed the filth of the temple, was very significant. King David had crossed that brook long before when he had been driven from his home by Absalom’s rebellion, and now the greater David went “over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden.” He especially wanted solitude just then, for one of the best preparations for suffering is to get alone with God. Learn this lesson also from your Lord’s example; and just as he put Gethsemane before Calvary, so if you can put an hour of prayerful contemplation before your expected suffering, it will be a great help for you.

2. And Judas also, who betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus often resorted there with his disciples.

That dark and gloomy olive garden was no pleasure garden that night. It had often been a place of retirement and of prayer for the Master. What happy memories his disciples must have had of being with him there for a time of prayer! It was a very choice privilege for them to be with him when he preached, but it must have been, if possible, an even greater privilege to be with him when he prayed. It is not recorded that his disciples ever said to him, “Lord, teach us how to preach”; but at least one of them was so struck with his prayers that he said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” We may well ask him to do that for us now. Perhaps some of you would like to be taught how you can become great; it is much more important for you to be taught to become prayerful.

3. Judas then, having received a band of men and of officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, comes there with lanterns and torches and weapons.

It does not matter much about the band of men and officers with lanterns and torches and weapons, but the dreadful part of the narrative is that they were led by one who had been a disciple of Christ, one who had been numbered with the disciples. Is Christ still betrayed by his professed friends? Yes, it is so; but may you and I never be guilty of that terrible crime! Yet why should we not unless the grace of God should prevent it? We are of the same flesh and blood as Judas; and although we might not be tempted by a sum of money, we may be tempted by a sinful pleasure or by a sinful shame. Lest we should be led astray, let us pray that we may not enter into temptation, and especially ask that we may be preserved from betraying our Lord, as Judas did.

4. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should happen to him, went out, and said to them, “Whom do you seek?”

Because of his divinity, he knew all that would happen to him, but what a wonderful manhood his was that, although he knew all that would befall him, he went out calm and composed, resigned to his Father’s will and said to those who had come to seize him, “Whom do you seek?” I think he is saying to some of us, “Whom do you seek?” We have not come here to kill him; we have not come here to fight against him, and lead him away to crucify him; yet I hope that we can truly say that we have come seeking Jesus. If this is really your heart’s desire, it shall surely be fulfilled for you.

5. They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus says to them, “I am he.”

Or, rather, “I am,” pronouncing the words with a divine dignity which had a startling effect on them.

5, 6. And Judas also, who betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said to them, “I am he,” they went backward, and fell to the ground.

It seems as if our Lord intended to let them experience something of his divine power and glory, for the utterance of that august expression, I am which is his Father’s name, staggered them, and they fell to the ground. Do you not wonder that they did not rise up, and go away and leave him, after they had fallen at his feet and asked his forgiveness? They did not act like that, for the power of fear when it is not accompanied by love is very little. There was enough power in it to make them fall down to the ground, but there was not power enough in it to make them fall at Christ’s feet confessing their sin.

7, 8. Then he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I have told you that I am he: if therefore you seek me, let these go their way”: {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2616, “Christ’s Care of His Disciples” 2617} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2368, “The Living Care of the Dying Christ” 2369}

It is very cheering for us to think of our Lord meeting all the enemies of his people, gathering up all their weapons into his own heart so that his people might go free. You and I, if we had been in such a case, would have been flurried and worried, and our fears would have made us selfish. We should have forgotten our poor friends who were with us; but Jesus did not think of himself, he thought of his poor trembling disciples, and therefore he said, “If therefore you seek me, let these go their way.”

9. That the saying might be fulfilled which he spoke, “Of those whom you gave me I have lost none.”

He had only said that just a little while before, but this verse shows us that the New Testament is as sure to be fulfilled as the Old Testament. It was a new saying, not then written, yet it had all the life and power of God in it; so it must live, and must be fulfilled.

10. Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.

Here is every prospect for a fight. Simon Peter has begun it, and the armed men will be eager to continue it. We always have our Simon Peters around,—men of emotion, men of impulse, men of impetuosity. They are not a bad kind of Christians, and I do not know what we should do without them. Our cold, frozen thinkers would not do much without our warm-hearted Peters to help to thaw them. Still, Peter was only one of the twelve apostles; and though they call him the head of the church, he made a very poor head of the church just then. He drew a sword, and began to use that carnal weapon by cutting off the right ear of Malchus. It was a great mercy that the Lord was there to heal the ear, and to forbid the use of the sword in his defence.

11. Then Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?”

Here is another helpful lesson for any of you who have a trial before you. Do not seek to set the trial aside; use no wrong means to escape from affliction; drink your ordained cup. Though Peter’s sword is handy, put it into its sheath, and do not use it. Bear and forbear, on and on and on to the end of the chapter. Drink the cup that your Father gives you. However bitter it is, it is sweetened by the fact that he gives it to you. Shall not a true son of God drink the cup that his Father presents to him? There can be no harm in it, and it must work some real good for you; so put away your sword, and lift the cup to your lips, and drink it to the dregs.

12. Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him,—

When you are bound with sickness, or bound with weakness, or bound in any other way, do not complain. Your Master was bound, and I think we ought to be willing to be anything that Christ was. What was good enough for him is good enough for us. “They took Jesus, and bound him,”—

13, 14. And led him away to Annas first; for he was the father-in-law to Caiaphas, who was the high priest that same year. Now Caiaphas was he, who gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.

Christ could not die without the question of expediency turning up. I never knew any great sin in the world, nor any great heresy, nor any great combination of men to maintain it without the question of expediency coming under consideration. Expediency is the great Christ-killer. Many nowadays say to us, “Do not preach against error; it is not expedient to do so. Do not break away from evil associations; it is not expedient.” How many there are of even good men who do certain things, not because they are right, but because they are expedient! But, believers in Jesus, in the name of your Lord I implore you to hate expediency, since it put him to death. It was a wicked expediency that would murder Christ in order to save a nation; but it did not really do so, after all, for the guilt of killing Christ brought on the nation the growing crime of deicide.

10. And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known to the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest.

This other disciple was, no doubt, John, who veiled himself as he did on other occasions.

16. But Peter stood at the door outside.

It would have been better for him if he had stayed there, he would probably have been more out of the way of temptation than he was inside the palace of the high priest.

16. Then that other disciple went out, who was known to the high priest and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought in Peter.

John doubtless acted like this out of kindness to Peter, but he was the means of bringing his friend into a place where he was not strong enough to stand his ground. You and I may act like that, perhaps, in perfect innocence, and even with commendable kindness; yet we may be unintentionally doing our friends a great wrong. I notice that John seems to have been the first of the apostles to associate with Peter after that terrible fall of his; and in his record of Peter’s denial of his Lord he does not mention his cursing and swearing as Matthew and Mark do. He appears to have felt great tenderness towards Peter; perhaps all the more so because he had been the innocent means of getting him into the place of temptation.

17. Then the damsel who kept the door says to Peter, “Are you not also one of this man’s disciples?” He says, “I am not.”

Ah, Peter! Ah, myself! If anyone is trusting in himself, he may soon utter a falsehood concerning his Lord, as Peter did. Keep us, oh God, by your grace, or else it will be so with us. It was nothing but a poor maidservant who cowed this brave Peter; the man whose sword was drawn just now in his Master’s defence is not able to truthfully answer the maid’s question, “‘Are you not also one of this man’s disciples?’ He says, ‘I am not.’”

18. And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals, for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.

While his Lord and Master was being mistreated and abused over there at the end of the hall, Peter was warming himself at the servant’s fire. Ah! he was getting cold spiritually while warming himself physically; and it sometimes happens that, when men are warming their bodies, they are at the same time cooling their hearts. I have known a man to warm himself at a very big fire through coming into possession of a large amount of property, but he has also grown very cold spiritually for these coals of fire do not warm the heart.

19-21. The high priest then asked Jesus about his disciples and his doctrine. Jesus answered him, “I spoke openly to the world; I always taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, where the Jews always resort; and in secret I have said nothing. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard me what I have said to them: behold, they know what I said.”

Our Lord’s teaching was never deceptive, he did not say one thing and mean another. He could truly appeal to his hearers concerning his teaching. It is a great thing for a preacher to be able to feel that his hearers know what he has said to them. We cannot always say that, for some of them forget, and some of them do not understand what we say. Some of them do not give sufficient attention to know what it is that is said, but Christ’s preaching was so clear and plain that he could truly say, “Ask those who heard me what I have said to them: behold, they know what I said.”

22, 23. And when he had spoken, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, “Do you answer the high priest like that?” Jesus answered him,

Not as Paul did, “God shall strike you, you whited wall.” The Master is superior to the disciple in all points. Jesus said:—

23. “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why do you strike me?”

Let us pray that, whenever we are despitefully treated, we may keep our temper, and be as composed as our Lord was; and if we must make an answer to our accusers, let it be as discreet and as justifiable as this answer of our Lord was.

24, 25. Now Annas had sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself.

So John resumes the narrative concerning Peter from the seventeenth verse: “Simon Peter stood and warmed himself.”

25. They said therefore to him.

Two or three or more of them speaking at a time said to him:—

25-27. “Are you not also one of his disciples?” He denied it, and said, “I am not.” One of the servants of the high priest, who was the relative of the man whose ear Peter cut off, says, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter then denied again:

Ah, me! those who lie once will be all too apt to lie again; those who deny Christ once will be apt to go to even greater lengths in their denial of him. May they be stopped as Peter was!

27. And immediately the cock crew.

May the cock crow for some who have been asleep up until now, and warn them that the night is far spent, and that it is time for them to awaken out of sleep, and wash their eyes with tears, and repent of having denied their Lord!

(Copyright (c) 2020, Answers In Genesis, Kentucky, United States. Permission for non-profit publishing or distribution of this sermon on paper is freely granted. Contact Answers In Genesis for permission for all other forms of publishing or distribution. Sermons updated by Larry and Marion Pierce of Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. We have not knowingly changed the meaning of this sermon. We intended only to eliminate archaic language. If you find a place where you think we have changed the meaning, please contact us so we can correct it. Contact information: email: [email protected], phone: (226) 243-6286.

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