THE MEN who took Jesus as their prisoner were the policemen of the Temple, led by their chief. With them were some of the priests and officers, and a crowd of the lowest people, who had been gathered from the streets by the rulers. All these formed together a noisy and disorderly mob, dragging Jesus out of the Garden of Gethsemane and into the city on Mount Zion. Two of the disciples, Peter and John, followed, keeping close to the crowd, but outside of it, their hearts filled with alarm for their Master.
The Temple policemen brought Jesus, all tied with ropes and chains, to the house on Mount Zion, inside the wall of the city, where lived one of the chief priests named Annas. Arenas had once been the high priest, that is, the great priest at the head of all the priests; but the Roman rulers of the land had taken his office away from him, and made Caiaphas, whose wife was the daughter of Annas, high priest in his place. Many of the people believed that the Romans had no right to take his office away from Arenas, and still looked upon him as the true and rightful high priest. Arenas was a man of great power, feared by many; and therefore the men who had seized Jesus brought him first to the house of Arenas. In the house were met a number of the chief rulers and members of the great council of the Jews. Jesus was brought in before them all. Arenas asked Jesus to tell him what he had taught, and who were his disciples. Jesus answered him :
“My teachings have never been in secret; I have always been open and public in my words. I spoke everywhere in the churches and in the Temple, where the people go to worship. Why do you ask me what I have said? Ask the people who heard me; they know what I said.”
As Jesus spoke these words, one of the police officers standing by struck Jesus a hard blow with his hand, saying :
“Is that the way that you answer the high priest?”
Jesus answered him calmly, “If I have said anything that is not true, prove it; but if I have spoken the truth, why do you strike me?”
When Jesus was taken into the house of Arenas, John followed the crowd inside, for John knew the high priest, and he was not afraid to go into his house.
But Peter stood outside in the street. Then John spoke to the woman who had charge of the door, and asked her to let in the man standing outside, and she opened the door for Peter. The rooms of the house stood around an open court, and Peter stood in the court among the servants and policemen. It was cold, and they had made a charcoal fire in a brazierthat is an iron pan standing upon either three or four legs. Around this fire the people gathered; and Peter stood in the court among them, holding his hands over the fire to warm them. The woman who kept the door looked sharply at Peter, and said :
“Are you not one of this man’s disciples?”
Peter was alone among the enemies of Jesus, for John had gone into the room where Jesus was standing before Annas and the other rulers. Peter felt. a sudden fear come over him, and to this woman’s question, he answered :
“No, I am not!”
Poor Peter ! Already he had begun to deny his Lord !
Arenas knew that he had no right to act as judge upon Jesus. All that he could do was to examine Jesus, listen to what he might say, and try to find in his words some ground for his enemies to bring charges against him. So after a little, Arenas sent Jesus, all bound as he was, to Caiaphas, who was the high priest by law.