Caiaphas was the high priest of the Jews; the mob led Jesus to his palace hall. The court had been convened, and all the galleries were packed with scribes and Pharisees already sworn as witnesses against the Lord. (Aquarian Gospel 165:1, 2)
Throughout history the devious and the evil have created sham dramas to bolster their power over others and make their spurious principles seem just and right. In our own time, the Stalinist trials were prime examples. People confessed to things that no one could be responsible for. One man wept on the witness stand as he confessed to causing an epidemic among the horses in the Ukraine.
Here we have the same situation when deceit and evil seem omnipotent and the intended victim seems indeed to be “brought as a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7). But in this case just the opposite is true: and this is taking place at the will of God, of Christ and of the Master Jesus. A great victory is in the future, and these terrible things are the steps that shall lead to it.
The maid who kept the palace door knew John and this disciple asked that he and Peter be admitted to the hall. The maid permitted them to enter in, and John went in; but Peter was afraid and tarried in the outer court.
The woman said to Peter, as he stood beside the door, Are you a follower of this man from Galilee? And Peter said, No, I am not.
The men who had brought Jesus to the hall sat by a fire in the outer court, because the night was cool, and Peter sat with them.
Another maid who waited in the place saw Peter and she said to him, You surely are from Galilee; your speech is that of Galilee; you are a follower of this man. And Peter said, I know not what you mean; I do not even know this man.
And then a servant of Caiaphas, one of those who seized the Lord and brought him to the court, saw Peter and he said to him, Did I not see you in the orchard of Massalian with this seditious Nazarene? I’m sure I did, and you are one of those who followed him.
Then Peter rose and stamped upon the floor, and swore by every sacred thing, that he knew not the criminal.
Now, John was standing near and when he heard the words and knew that Peter had denied his Lord, he looked at him in sheer astonishment.
Just then a cock crew loud beneath the court, and Peter called to mind the words the Lord had said, Before the cock shall crow tomorrow morn you will deny me thrice. And Peter’s conscience smote him heavily, and he went out into the night and wept. (Aquarian Gospel 165:3-16)
John went in; but Peter was afraid and tarried in the outer court. If he had not done this, perhaps no one would have questioned him about his connection with Jesus, and he would not have denied knowing him. Fear, especially cowardice, nearly always delivers us into the hands of inimical forces, persons and situations.
The men who had brought Jesus to the hall sat by a fire in the outer court, because the night was cool, and Peter sat with them. Peter is setting himself up for the denial he so vigorously denied. Through the years I have seen people setting themselves up for a fall. Looking back they may fabricate and claim their failure was the fault of some other factor or persons, but it is not true: they deliberately created the trap, walked toward it, and jumped (not fell) in. Almost always their prior conversations indicated exactly what they intended doing to themselves. In fact, most people are totally transparent, obviously intent on their eventual self-destruction. Many are outrageously brazen about it, enacting a farce that anyone can detect.
Just then a cock crew loud beneath the court, and Peter called to mind the words the Lord had said, Before the cock shall crow tomorrow morn you will deny me thrice. And Peter’s conscience smote him heavily, and he went out into the night and wept. The fact that Peter admitted his fault and grieved over it indicated that in time all would be corrected and he would be reinstated as a disciple of Jesus. The same would have happened to Judas, but by his own hands he put himself beyond any such possibility for that lifetime. But in time the healing love of Jesus prevailed.
Caiaphas sat in state; before him stood the man from Galilee. Caiaphas said, You people of Jerusalem, who is the man that you accuse? They answered: In the name of every loyal Jew we do accuse this man from Galilee, this Jesus, who assumes to be our king, as enemy of God and man.
Caiaphas said to Jesus, Man, you are permitted now to speak and tell about your doctrines and your claims. And Jesus said, You priest of carnal man, why do you ask about my words and works? Lo, I have taught the multitudes in every public place; I have restored your sick to health; have caused your deaf to hear, your lame to walk, and I have brought your dead to life again. My works have not been done in secret place but in your public halls and thoroughfares. Go ask the people, who have not been bought with gold or glittering promises, to tell about my words and works.
When Jesus had thus said a Jewish guard came up and smote him in the face and said, How dare you speak thus unto him, the high priest of the Jews? And Jesus said, If I have spoken falsely bear witness unto what I say; If I have told the truth why did you smite me thus?
And then Caiaphas said, What’er you do, do in a legal way, for we must answer to a higher court for everything we do or say. Let the accusers of this man present their charges in a legal form. And then Caiaphas’ scribe stood forth and said, I have the accusations here in legal form; the charges made and signed by scribes and priests and Pharisees. Caiaphas said, Be still, you men, and hear the charges read. The scribe took up a roll and read:
To the Sanhedrin of the Jews and to Caiaphas the high priest, most honored men: The highest duty man can render is to his nation and his own is to protect them from their foes. The people of Jerusalem are conscious that a mighty foe is in their very midst. A man named Jesus has come forth and claims to be heir to David’s throne. As an imposter he is foe, and in the name of every loyal Jew we here submit these charges which we are competent to prove; and first, he blasphemes God; he says he is son of God; that he and God are one; and he profanes our holy days by healing, and doing other work upon the Sabbath days; nd he proclaims himself the king, successor of our David and our Solomon; and he declares that he will tear our temple down and build it up again in form more glorious in three days; and he declares that he will drive the people from Jerusalem, as he drove out the merchants from the temple court; and bring to occupy our sacred hills a tribe of men that know not God; and he avers that every doctor, scribe and Pharisee and Sadducee, shall go in exile, and shall never more return; and to these charges we do set our hands and seals.
Now, when the scribe had read the charges, all the people called for blood; they said, Let such a wretch be stoned; let him be crucified.
Caiaphas said, You men of Israel, do you sustain the charges of these men? A hundred men who had been bribed, stood forth to testify; they swore that every charge was true.
Caiaphas said to Jesus, Man, have you a word to say? are you the son of God? And Jesus said, So you have said; and then he said no more. (Aquarian Gospel 165:17-47)
Jesus refused to take part in the farce enacted by Caiaphas and his henchmen. Yet they spoke the truth in spite of their intentions, for Jesus was indeed “a mighty foe” of the evil to which they were enslaved and by which they enslaved others. And he did indeed say he was a son of God, that he was one with God. He did heal on the Sabbath and rightly claimed to be a descendant of David and king of a spiritual kingdom. But whether they understood or misunderstood it was all the same: they hated him and wanted his death.
Intuiting that Jesus had the power to free people from the bondage of ignorance and evil, they realized that their power was in grave danger. Even though Jesus made clear that it was their action that would bring about the destruction of Jerusalem, they pretended that he had claimed that he would himself bring it about.
One time Yogananda told a group of food faddists that if they did not give up their crack-brain ways one of their group would die. They shouted: “You are cursing us!” as if the evil lay with him. One of their number did die, and their association was dissolved as a result. They were the cursers, and their foolishness the curse, but it was easier to blame one who told them the truth. It has always been like this when evil in power is confronted by those whose only weapon is truth.