God Tried by Men—Men Tried by God
St. Mark XIV. 53 to XV. 15.
T RY to be very solemn and sympathetic in teaching the sufferings of the Lord. Pray very earnestly that God will touch the children's hearts deeply by the story.
Recapitulate last Lesson—Gethsemane, Betrayal, Midnight Arrest. Now at midnight the Court of Sanhedrim assembled—summoned together in the night to be ready when the band came in from Olivet with the prisoner.
§ 1. God Tried by Men
Most astonishing sight on
earth. The Judge of Mankind at the judgment bar of men!
The Saviour of Mankind about to be killed by those
whom He came to save! Think what a mockery. His judges
are the men who hated Him for rebuking their sin, the
men who sent out spies to trap Him, the men who tried
to kill Him. Was there likelihood of fair play? Could
these men, with their spite and cant and hypocrisy and
self-seeking, form any true judgment as to character of
the loving, self-sacrificing Christ? No more than a bat
could judge the sunshine. They called witnesses—for
what? to find out the truth?
Picture scene—The palace of high priest probably
thus—(1) First the porch, with pillars and porter's
lodge. (2) From this doors opened into the court
§ 2. Man Tried by God
But another trial going on in
the courtyard. What? Peter being tried. Poor
Peter—found it much easier to be religious and
confident in the upper room
Did you ever tell a
lie when suddenly asked, and you had not time to
decide? So Peter now. A sudden temptation like that is
a good test of us. Cultivate habit of bold, transparent
truth, always, and then you will never be taken
unawares. Then he tried to escape this girl; out into
the porch where the groups of people waited. But the
girl followed Him and repeated charge. What happened?
How did the third suspicion come? Galilean
accent—country brogue. Peter now utterly terrified. What a
So God's testing of Peter was over. Peter had utterly, shamefully failed. Oh, how could he! With the Master who loved him being persecuted to death, and all the world against Him, would it not be better to suffer anything than desert Him? And in a minute he saw this himself. In the cold, grey dawn outside he heard the cock crow, and just then they were hurrying out the Lord, condemned to death. And as He passed out He gave Peter that one look of unutterable pain that nearly broke poor Peter's heart.
Could Christ ever forgive such a sin? Such sorrow as Peter's will always bring forgiveness. St. Clement tells that Peter never forgot this sin—that whenever he heard a cock crow he would get out of his bed and cry again to the Lord in shame and tears. See how sweetly the Lord forgave him. Even on the cross and in the Hades world He was thinking of poor Peter. Think of the touching message He left with the angels for the women at the tomb: "Go and tell my disciples and Peter—Peter, who has denied Me—Peter, who is breaking his heart, and thinks I have cast him out for ever—tell him especially." Oh, no wonder Peter so fond of Him. No wonder that burst of eager, passionate devotion: "Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee!"
(If there is time, there is a very interesting study of
another "man tried by God," in Pilate's case
(1) Is it possible for us to deny Christ?
(2) What Christ deserves from us: