This is Wednesday of Holy Week. The reading is Matthew 26:57-75, Jesus before Caiaphas and Peter’s denial. (If you want to listen, scroll to the bottom of that page for the audio links.)
Wright looks at the trial before the Sanhedrin and sees Caiaphas making the connection that one who would claim to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days is claiming something only God could do. It’s even more audacious than that, of course, when you hear (in John) that he was really talking about the destruction and resurrection of his own body. “When Jesus refuses to answer the question about destroying the Temple and rebuilding it in three days, the high priest moves to the natural next step. He puts Jesus on oath, and asks him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of God?'”
‘Jesus’ reply is fully in line with all that we have seen in the earlier pages of Matthew’s gospel. It all joins up. The high priest himself has said what needs to be said, but there is more: Caiaphas will see that Jesus will be vindicated by God after his suffering, that he will ‘come with the clouds of heaven’ and be enthroned at the right hand of ‘Power’, in other words, of God himself.
That’s enough! It’s blasphemy! And Jesus is condemned, mocked as a false prophet.
Meanwhile, a different sort of connection is established out in the courtyard. Peter — impetuous, blundering Peter — provides the mirror-image to Jesus. Jesus tells the truth, knowing it will condemn him. Peter tells a lie to save his skin. The stage is set. Jesus, the innocent one, will die in place of Peter, the guilty. And the rest of us, too.
One of the ‘Hosanna’s’ that we linked to earlier begins with this same image I See the King of Glory
This is probably also a good time to repeat Smitten, Stricken and Afflicted