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God on Trial (Matthew Sermon 142 of 151)

God on Trial (Matthew Sermon 142 of 151)

May 05, 2013 | Andrew Davis
Matthew 26:57-68
Righteousness of God, Incarnation, Humiliation of Christ, Deity of Christ

sermon transcript



As we come to Matthew 26:57-68, we come to a really shocking moment in the history of the world. The gospel, this indisputable fact, is standing in front of us: the eternal God, the Creator of the ends of the earth, sent his Son, his only begotten Son, into the world. He took on a human body, he lived a sinless life, never did anything wrong, never broke any of the laws of God, poured out his life to benefit and bless people whose lives were shattered and broken by sin. He healed people, he loved people, he lived a sinless life. And we, the human race, we arrested him, bound him, tried him, convicted him and condemned him and killed him without a cause. And that's what we're facing here in this account today. I think the greatest sin that has ever happened was the death of Jesus Christ. He's the only sinless man that ever lived, so everything that was done to him was undeserved. He was a perfect man. Sinless, pure, spotless lamb. And yet, we put him on trial. Can you believe that? This is an account of God on trial. How shocking is that?

Now, in the Garden of Eden, as you know, there stood a tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In Genesis 2:15, I think a good translation of that verse is that God put Adam in the garden to serve it and protect it. The Hebrew word there “protect” implies some danger, some encroaching danger. Something's going to come. We believe that by that time, Satan had already fallen into his rebellion, had already been cast to the Earth, and he was coming to the Garden. Well, why was he coming there? Well, one theologian that I read gave a plausible idea of why it was that God in his providence brought Satan to the tree.

I believe that God brought Satan, the fallen angel, the lead rebel against the law of God, brought him to the tree to be judged by Adam, the judge. It says in 1 Corinthians 6:3, “Do you not know that we will judge angels?” What kind of angels would we judge but wicked angels or fallen angels? So in the wisdom of God, he brought Satan to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that there would be a trial, there would be a court, and Satan would be condemned by man, the judge, because he had fallen to the Earth, and God had put man in charge of the Earth to fill it and subdue it and rule over it. And part of being a king, a ruler, is to be a judge.

But Satan cleverly turned the whole thing around. You know the story in Genesis 3. He initiated an encounter at the tree, not with Adam, but with his wife, with Eve, Adam's helper. He turned the entire trial in its head, and basically at that first temptation, he put God on trial. And Adam, standing quietly by his wife's side, was judging God, judging God's word. “Did God really say... “ Judging God's truthfulness in warning when he heard, “You will not surely die.” Judging God's goodness in holding out apparently some kind of blessing that would have been beneficial to us. “For God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be open and you'll be like God knowing good and evil.” And so there is Adam, our representative, and now he's not judging this wicked creature who's questioning God, instead he's judging God. God is on trial at the tree with man the judge, and so it has been ever since. 

The natural tendency of our rebellious race, we rebellious sons and daughters of Adam, is to put God on trial in our hearts and minds, especially when it comes to the painful issue of human suffering. Elie Wiesel, the Jewish survivor of the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz, said that he beheld there three Jewish men hold a trial of God in absentia for what was happening to the Jews in the concentration camp, the Holocaust, the slaughter. As a result of that, he based a 1979 play on that whole encounter called “The Trial of God.” It was set in a Ukrainian village in 1649 after the massacre of some Jewish villagers. In Elie Wiesel's play, three travelling minstrels arrive in the village intending to put on a play, but instead put on a mock trial of God for the massacre that had happened in that village. Elie Wiesel putting God on trial.

C.S. Lewis wrote a book called God in the Dock. The British way of saying “God on trial.” He said that man rather than rightly seeing himself as standing on trial before a Holy God, instead prefers to see God standing on trial before us, accountable to us, for all the hard things that have ever happened in our lives or in this world. He has to give us an account for what's happened in this world. So whenever there's a hurricane or an earthquake or a fire or the tragic death of a child, the shocking surprise of some adverse circumstance leads people again to put God on trial.

But the truth is the exact opposite, isn't it? The truth is the exact opposite. At the end of all things, we will stand on trial before God. God is the Judge of all the earth. And on that day, on Judgment Day, we will give an account for every careless word that we have spoken, and God will judge righteously. As it says in Hebrews 9:27, “Man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment.” As it said earlier in Hebrews 4:13, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight, everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.”

What's even more amazing, as we come to our text today, the Bible makes it plain that Jesus, the Son of God, the second person of the trinity, will actually be the judge of all humanity. Every single human being will stand before Jesus Christ, Jesus of Nazareth. He is the judge of all the earth. As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done in the body, whether good or bad.” Jesus himself said this in John 5:22-23, “Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son even as they honor the Father who sent him.” And yet in our text today, we have the judge of all the Earth, Jesus, standing before wicked, sinful men to be judged by them. We have God the Son on trial. And furthermore, it's a wicked, unjust and illegal trial. What else could it be, because he was sinless? One that puts the sinfulness of the human heart on full display.

The Trials of Jesus: Jewish Justice Perverted First, Then Roman

Jesus’ Trial Had Two Major Aspects: Religious and Secular

Now, as we come to the trials of Jesus, there are two major aspects of Jesus' trial. There was a religious trial before the Jewish authorities, and there was a secular trial before secular mostly Roman authorities. Jesus was tried by Jews and by Gentiles. I believe this was part of the sovereign plan of God. Just as Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin, we're told in Romans, Jews and Gentiles alike are held guilty for the death of the Son of God. It bothers me when people out of fear, rightly in many ways, of anti-Semitism saying the Jews were in no way responsible for the death of Jesus. That is false. But it's also false to say that the Jews were solely responsible for the death of Jesus. That's false as well. Gentiles, equally responsible. God shut up both Jews and Gentiles alike in this particular sin, the condemnation of the Son of God. He orchestrated these two trials, God did, so the Jews and Gentiles alike would be guilty for condemning the Son of God.

Each of These Trials Had Three Parts

Now, each of these trials, the trial before the Jewish authorities and the trial before Pilate and Herod, had three phases. So in effect, Jesus had six trials. It's really quite staggering. Six different hearings. In every case, Jesus condemned, found guilty. In the Jewish trial, there was first a preliminary hearing in Annas' house, it's recorded for us only in John's gospel, in John chapter 18. Then second, we have the trial before Caiaphas, the then high priest, and the Sanhedrin recorded in our account here. And then third, the same group reconvened just after daybreak as recorded in Matthew 27:1. Three phases to the Jewish or the religious trial.

And then the secular trial also had three phases. First before Pontius Pilate. Then when he found out that Jesus was a Galilean and that Herod was in town, shipped him off to Herod for a trial. Herod just wanted to see a miracle, nothing doing, so he sent him back to Pilate for phase three, or really phase six at that point of his trial.

Greatest Miscarriage of Justice Before Jews and Romans Who Prided Themselves in Their Justice

And isn't it amazing that there was such a great miscarriage of justice by two people, peoples I guess, who prided themselves on justice, specifically in court trials? The Jewish nation had righteous laws that sought to defend the innocent from false accusations so that justice would be served. The Romans also prided themselves on their court trials and their proceedings.

Jewish Justice Established in the Laws of Moses

Jewish justice established in the laws of Moses: judges were selected because they were righteous and upright men who would not take a bribe, for a bribe twists the eyes and ears of the judge and perverts justice. Deuteronomy 16. The Sanhedrin itself was established originally for the purpose of justice. Any community with at least 120 men could form their own counsel, and this council came to be known by the Greek term for sitting together, “sunedrion,” we get it as “Sanhedrin.” They would sit together and try to make sure that justice was done. The goal always was that every accused person got a fair trial. Capital crimes in particular were singled out for special treatment.

In Deuteronomy 17:6, it's plain that no one could ever be put to death on the testimony of just one witness, there had to be two or three witnesses for someone to be put to death. False witnesses in Deuteronomy 19 were punished most severely, because if it was ever uncovered that someone broke the Ten Commandments and testified falsely, bore false witness against his neighbor, then whatever that crime was, it had a punishment, that punishment would be done to the false witness. And if it was a capital crime, the false witness would be executed. And that was the desire to uphold justice and righteousness. Furthermore, if in the end the individual was found guilty, the witnesses had to be the first to stone them, to put the individual to death, so that they stood accountable for their testimony.

Beyond the laws of Moses, rabbinical law and tradition had additional safeguards to be sure that justice was served. For example, the sentence of death could not be carried out until the third day after the trial. The council members were to fast in the intervening day. So once guilty and condemned to death, it had to be on the third day the execution happened, and in the intervening day, they were supposed to fast and pray and be sure that they were doing God's will and that they hadn't missed anything. This also gave additional time for evidence that might be used to exonerate, to set the individual free.

Witnesses, when they testified, had to give the exact time and date and location of the incident or their testimony could not be accepted. There was always the presumption of innocence, they were innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, the defense of the accused was supposed to be handled with great care. If the verdict of death was not overturned, then an officer of the council would escort the prisoner through the city to the place of execution and a herald would go ahead of the slow-moving procession declaring in a loud voice, things like this, “This man so and so” - stating the name of the convicted man - “is led to punishment for such and such a crime. The witnesses who have sworn against him are so and so and so and so. If anyone has evidence in his favor, come forward quickly.” Again, an effort to be sure that they were not condemning an innocent man. At the place of execution, the convicted man was urged to confess his crime, whether he did or not, he would be executed, but before that they would give him a sedative to dull his senses so that the pain wouldn't be extreme.

In addition to these rules, no trial could begin or continue into the night. They wanted the people who were judging to be clear-headed. In the Sanhedrin, when the vote for conviction was taken, it would proceed from the youngest member to the oldest so that the youngest wouldn't be swayed unduly by older members. If the vote was ever unanimous, and this is amazing to me, then the case was thrown out because there was an assumption that it could never be unanimous, and that there had to be some mercy, someone had a heart of mercy, and so clearly there would be a plot afoot to kill somebody. Sound familiar when it comes to Jesus?

All of This Thrown Out the Window in the Case of Christ

In all of these things, they operated under the principle, the Sanhedrin is here to save life, not to destroy it. The goal was not merely justice but, whenever possible, mercy. All of these were thrown out the window when it came to Christ. It was an unjust trial because he was innocent, and it was an illegal trial based on these rules. Jesus was basically condemned before he ever got to trial. I think if you read the gospel accounts, you know that's true. They had already decided to put him to death, all they wanted was a semblance of legality painted over this most heinous act of wickedness ever in the human race. They wanted to appear to be legal and righteous as they were condemning this innocent man.

And so Jesus was illegally tried then before first being charged with a crime, he was tried at night and in private, he had no defense counsel, there were many false witnesses, and none of them was held accountable for their false testimony. He was executed the same day he was tried and convicted, so there was no chance at appeal, no opportunity for the council to fast and pray and seek the will of God. It was hastily thrown together with the barest semblance of justice because there was no justice in it at all. Furthermore, once he was condemned, they treated Jesus with utmost disgrace, spitting in his face and smashing him with rods and mocking him, mocking his prophetic ability. Things that should never have been done in any case. Why? Why this hatred?

The Jealousy and Greed of the Jewish Enemies of Jesus (vs. 57-59)

Key statement: vs. 57, 59

Well, in Verses 57 and 59, we begin to get an idea of why. We see the jealousy and the greed of the Jewish enemies of Jesus. Verse 57, it says, “Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled.” Verse 59, “The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death.” I mean, this is not a trial, this is a plot, this is murder is all it is, by means of the court.

So they're trying to kill him. Now, in the pre-trial at Annas', which is again recorded only in John 18, Jesus calls them on it to some degree. If you know what to look for, Jesus calls them on the illegality of his trial. He's not wondering what's gonna be the outcome, but he wants to have it stated for the record how unjust and how illegal this whole thing was. So they brought him to Annas, Annas' house. Why to Annas? Because he's the real high priest, the real power behind the throne. I look on him like The Godfather in one of those mafia stories, a thoroughly evil man. Caiaphas was his son-in-law, a bit of a puppet, not just under the Romans, but under Annas himself.

And it says that the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. That's illegal to be asking the accused these kinds of questions. So Jesus answers this, he said, “I've spoken openly to the world. I always taught in the synagogues or at the temple where all the Jews came together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me.” What is Jesus asking them to do? Produce witnesses, right? “It's illegal for you to be asking me directly. Where are your witnesses, Annas?” Well, when he said that, do you remember what happened? One of the officials standing near Jesus struck him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” He demanded. Jesus said the same thing, “If I have said something wrong, then testify to it. But if I've said nothing wrong, then why did you strike me?” It's the same thing, “Where are your witnesses? This is not how we do a court trial.”

Why Were the Jews Determined to Kill Jesus… Even With Such Prejudice and Wickedness?

So why were the Jews determined to kill Jesus even with such prejudice and wickedness? Well, a lot of reasons. It's strange because of the perfection of Jesus, Jesus, the only perfect man that ever lived perfectly filled with love for God and love for neighbor at every moment, poured out his life in service to sinners, never refused any of them anything they came and asked him for. Even if it was inconvenient, he would come immediately and care for them. The only man that ever perfectly obeyed the law of Moses.

The people gave this summary in Mark 7:37, “He has done everything well.” Think about that. Scripture gives this testimony in 1 Peter 2:22, “He committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate. When he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” Jesus was sinless, so why the hatred?

Pilate Saw It Clearly… Scripture Testifies As Well

Pilate, in the next chapter, in Matthew 27:18, says very plainly why. It says, “He knew that it was out of envy” - out of jealousy - “that they had handed Jesus over to him.” So they were jealous of Jesus. It's a deep spiritual principle.

Jealousy of Christ’s Righteousness, Popularity, and Power

They were jealous of him in the same way that Cain was jealous of his brother Abel. Do you remember? Jesus was perfectly righteous and they were completely wicked, and darkness hates the light and will not come to the light it says in John 3. Proverbs 29:27 says, “The wicked detest the upright.” There was a hatred there. Annas, Caiaphas were completely evil, corrupt individuals. And it says in 1 John 3:12-13, “Do not be like Cain who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.” So they hated Jesus because he was light, and they were darkness.

Secondly, they hated Jesus because of his popularity. Jesus was immensely popular with the crowds. As he rode into Jerusalem, almost the whole city was out there to greet him. “Hosanna,” they're shouting. “Hail to the King of the Jews,” they're shouting. And the Jewish leaders were filled with jealousy. Now, we don't have any direct statements other than Pilate's statement about envy or jealousy, but we definitely have it in the book of Acts concerning the apostles. In Acts 13:45, it says, “When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying.” So they're jealous of Paul when they saw huge crowds. How much more jealous would they be of Jesus?

They were also jealous of his power, thirdly. He had supernatural power, he could do things they couldn't do. Remember when they ascribed his miracles to Beelzebub, the prince of the devils, remember? And Jesus asked them this question, “If I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons drive them out?” It's a very interesting question. Do you think their sons were driving out demons? I don't think so. In other words, “I can do things you apparently can't do.” They knew that very well. Now, they missed the point of the miracles. The point was, this is God's son. Instead, they tried to kill Jesus, the wonder-worker, and even kill Lazarus who was raised from the dead to try to kill the evidence.

But they were jealous of the apostles concerning this same thing in Acts 5. It says, “Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed. And then the high priest and all of his associates who were members of the party, the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy and they arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail.” They're jealous of Jesus because of his miracles.

Greed for Their Position

But they also had a position to protect. They were corrupt because they were making huge money on the animal sacrificial system. We've talked about this before, I won't belabor it. But every animal that was brought to the temple to be offered as a sacrifice had to be inspected by Annas' guys. I wonder if they figured out in terms of business, what percentage they had to accept through. I think they would like to have failed all 100 percent of the sheep that the pilgrims brought, but they figured that's bad for business. They gotta be clever. So they probably failed like 70 percent of them, and then confiscated those animals and sold them to pilgrims the next day at a slightly elevated price. 

And by the way, you couldn't use your money, whatever money you had out in your outlying districts, you had to use the temple shekel, and there's some money changers over there who will be happy to exchange money for you for a fee. Josephus tells us a quarter of a million lambs were sacrificed at the time of Passover. Do the math. I won't do it, I know you're thankful for that. But huge, huge profits rolling in. Annas and Caiaphas, very much like the Mafia, it was very corrupt, but it was corrupt in the name of religion.

And you know that twice, at least, Jesus drove out those wicked people from the temple. In John chapter 2, he made a whip of cords and drove out the money changers and drove out and overturned the benches of those selling doves and drove out all of the animals, and he was filled with the fiery indignation and zeal. “Take these out of here,” he said. “How dare you turn my Father's house into a marketplace?”

Politics: The Triumphal Entry Had Aroused the Attention of the Romans

Oh, Jesus made some very powerful enemies there, very powerful enemies. And so they were afraid that the Romans would come with Jesus' leadership here, the Romans would come and take away both their place and their nation, they said. They were afraid of losing their gig, so to speak, afraid of losing all of the money that they were making.

So, Before the Trial Even Occurred, Jesus was Guilty

And so even before the trial occurred, they were convinced that Jesus was guilty. So in verse 59, they “were looking for false evidence against Jesus so they could put him to death.”

Peter Is Following… and Getting Into Trouble… More Next Week

Now, an aside, verse 58, we'll deal with it more next time, God willing, Peter is following at a distance. See that in verse 58. “Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.” We'll talk about that, God willing, next week. But Peter should have been home, should have escaped. He wasn't ready for what he thought he was ready for. I don't know what his motives were, maybe partly loyalty to Jesus, partly pride for his statements early in the evening, partly curiosity just sitting down there to see the outcome. Never lifted a finger to help Jesus on his trial. But there he was. We'll get into that next week.

The False Witnesses (vs. 59-61)

The Sanhedrin Not Looking for Truth… Because the Truth Was Against Their Evil Purpose

Then come the false witnesses. Look at 59-61, “The chief priest and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so they could put him to death, but they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally, two came forward and declared, ‘This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’” So again, clearly, they're not looking for truth.

They Orchestrated False Witnesses… Probably Bribed Them; But They Did a Terrible Job

They're orchestrating false witnesses, but they've done a very shabby job. I don't know if there was a false witness school, but these folks were not graduates of it. It just wasn't working well. So they wanted some semblance of justice, but a better semblance than that. It was pathetic. These guys' stories just weren't jiving at all, it just didn't work. The best they got were the ones that were recorded here. “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days.’”

The Testimony About the Temple

Now, basically, this is a charge of blasphemy against Moses and against the temple, this is the very thing that they're going to use later to kill Stephen. So it's a weighty charge, but it's not the real charge. We'll get to what the real charge was in just a moment. It really didn't have to do with this statement. And frankly, they got it wrong. They were false witnesses and they got the statement wrong. Jesus, as far as I can tell, never said, “I am able to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days.”

What he did say in John chapter 2 is when they asked him for what authority, what sign he would give for the right to knock over all these benches and drive all the animals out, what sign did he give to show the right of his authority to do these things? Jesus said these words: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” So who's doing the temple-destroying in Jesus' statement? Not him, his enemies. “You destroy, I'll raise up.”

But the temple he had spoken of was his body. Very deep, not gonna get into it, but there's a connection between the physical temple and Jesus' body. And so even his disciples didn't understand it at that time, but afterwards, after he was raised in the dead, they remembered this statement and they remembered the words that he had said, and they understood the statement, “Zeal for your house has almost literally destroyed me.” It was because of his zeal for the house of God that he was consumed, that he was killed.

False Witnesses Getting them Nowhere, So Caiaphas Takes Matters in His Own Hands

So the false witnesses were getting them nowhere, so the high priest takes matters boldly into his own hands, and this reaches a whole new depth of illegality here. This is the judge in the trial, stands up, directly addresses the accused - you're not supposed to be condemned out of your own mouth - but directly addresses him basically saying in effect, “These false witnesses are getting us nowhere. Let's see if we can deal with this directly.”

Jesus’ Confession Before the High Priest (vs. 62-64)

This Was Illegal at Many Levels

Verse 62, “Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, ‘Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony these men are bringing against you?’” So this is illegal at many levels, it should never have been done, but this is what happened.

Jesus’ Silence a Fulfillment of Prophecy

Jesus was silent, and we'll talk more about his silence when we get to the trial before Pilate, but this was in direct fulfillment of Scripture. Jesus, it says in Isaiah 53:7, “was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” He kept quiet. He's not saying anything.

The High Priest’s Solemn Charge

Therefore, in verse 63, the high priest gives him this solemn charge, and this is an incredibly important moment in redemptive history right here, verse 63-64. The high priest at this point represents the Jewish nation as a whole. He says, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Now we get to the real issue here. You know what Jesus is being tried for? Blasphemy - not in reference to the temple - blasphemy in reference to the incarnation, that he claimed to be God.

That's what the issue was here. Jesus was making a clear claim to deity in claiming to be the Son of God. In John 5:18, remember how they accused him of working on the Sabbath? And Jesus gives this incredible answer in John 5. He says, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working. My father's working and I'm working. We're both working.” As though Jesus had no idea what an incendiary statement that would be. He knew exactly how they would hear that. But it says in John 5:18, “For this reason, they tried even harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath” - according to them - “but he was also calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” That's the issue here. That's the issue.

Jesus’ Clear Answer

So, “I charge you under oath by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” In our text, it says, “Yes, it is as you say.” Mark has a simpler statement. He just says, “I am.” Do you realize the significance of that? That's the name of the Angel of the Lord in the burning bush. That's God's name, that's Yahweh's name. So he says, “Are you the Son of God?” And he answers, simply, “I am.”

The Appeal to Daniel 7

But he doesn't stop there. Remember last week I talked about Jesus' incredible commitment to Scripture? He then reaches in the 39 books of the Old Testament, of all of the prophecies that he could have reached for, all of the prophecies concerning this key issue, in effect, he's saying, “You're clearly struggling with incarnation, let me help you. You're struggling with, how could I be both Son of God and Son of man? How could I be both human and divine? Let me point you to the key text of Scripture in the entire Bible on that issue,” and he reaches for Daniel 7. Daniel 7:13-14. He appeals to it. This is what he says in Matthew, “I say to all of you: In the future, you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Again, he's not directly quoting Daniel 7, he's alluding to it, but he's making it a prediction. “In the future, you will see.” Remember, everything Jesus says is true. So they will see him in the future, and they'll see him as God. He will be at the right hand of the Mighty One, he'll be coming on the clouds of heaven, and he will be coming for judgment and for wrath.

The Son of Man Vision

What is he alluding to? He's alluding to Daniel 7:13 and 14. There it says, “In my vision at night, I looked and there before me was one like a Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days,” that's God the Father, “and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power. All peoples, nations, and men of every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed or pass away.” That's what he's alluding to.

It's the clearest text in the Old Testament on the deity and the humanity of the Messiah. Matthew 7:13 and 14. The key thing is that he is called Son of Man, so he's human, and he is worshipped as God in the presence of God. This can only be the incarnation.

Jesus Condemned and Degraded by the Jews (vs. 65-68)

The Official Rejection of Jesus as Son of God and Son of Man by the Jewish Nation

Well, as a result of this, the high priest tears his robes and says, “‘He has spoken blasphemy. Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy, what do you think?’ ‘He is worthy of death,’ they answered. Then they spit in his face, and they struck him with their fists. And others slapped him and said, ‘Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?’”

This is a key moment. This is the rejection of the Messiah, the official rejection of the Messiah by the Jewish nation. John 1:11, “He came to his own, but his own people did not receive him.” Luke 19:44, Jesus wept over Jerusalem, he said, “because you did not recognize the time of God coming to you.” He was condemned by the Jewish nation.

The Sanhedrin Called on to Condemn Jesus by Acclamation: No Vote Needed

And interestingly, the high priest doesn't wait for a vote, no secret ballot, he calls for a verdict by acclamation. “Hey, everybody, what do you think?” Which is completely unjust and illegal. And they all cry out what they're supposed to cry, “Guilty, worthy of death,” these kinds of things. And then they start to mistreat him.

Jesus Degraded and Humiliated

They spit in his face. That's one of the most denigrating, disgusting, dehumanizing things that could ever be done to a person, to spit in someone's face. In every culture, it's a symbol of overt disrespect, usually it would lead to a fight. And they hit him, and they go beyond that to mock him. They blindfold him, like it's kind of a game of blindfold bluff. “Who hit you? Prophesy to us.”

Guys, remember, he never stopped being God. Jesus, the Son of God, read people's minds. He knew everything about them. Remember the Samaritan woman, who, at the well, and Jesus said, “You've had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.” Remember that? She runs into the village and said, “Come see a man who told me everything I ever did it.” A bit of an over-statement, but she was quite impressed by Jesus' ability to know her. Remember what he said to Nathaniel, “While you were still under the fig tree, I saw you. That's how I know that you're a true Israelite in whom there's nothing false.”

Blindfolded Jesus could have picked out any one of those people and told them what they were thinking that moment, secrets from their lives, all their skeletons in their closet. Jesus knew everything. “Oh, Lord, you have searched us and you know us. You know when we sit and when we rise. Before a word is on our tongues, you know it all together.” That's who they were blindfolding and spitting on and hitting, the Son of God. And they condemned him to death, and to death he would go.


Come to Christ!

So what applications can we take from this text? Well, all of scripture is written, everything in scripture is written for one purpose: To make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Jesus went through this trial for sinners like you and me. He was innocent, he was perfect, sinless. We are guilty. And Jesus came to stand in our place, to be tried in our place, to be condemned in our place, to suffer and die in our place. “All we, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. And by oppression and judgment, he was taken away.” He went through that for sinners like you and me.

So the best thing I can ever do is preach the gospel of this Savior, of him who stood in our place and who was condemned in our place as the hymn says, “Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned he stood. Sealed my pardon with his blood. Hallelujah, what a Savior.” Is that true of you? Do you know by faith in your place condemned, he stood? All you need to do is trust in him, believe what I'm saying is true, that he was God the Son, died on the cross for you, and you will be forgiven.

Marvel at the Wickedness of the Human Heart

Secondly, marvel at the wickedness of the human heart. Marvel. This is the low point, I think. This whole trial, the condemnation of Jesus, and his death is the low point of the human race, the wickedness of the human race. And as I've said to you before, so I say again, whenever you find evidence of wickedness in the scripture, see yourself. Look in the mirror of God's perfect law and find out who you are. It's not the righteous that Jesus came to save, it's not the healthy that he came to heal. We're sinful too. And if you say, “I would never do what Annas and Caiaphas did and all that,” just understand that's not the conclusion that scripture wants you to have. What scripture wants you to say is, “We are wicked. We are broken sinners. Thank God there's such a Savior as Jesus.” Behold the wickedness of the human heart.

Understand the Tendency to Put God on Trial

And be aware of the tendency that we have to put God on trial. Have you ever done that? Have you ever tried God? Have you ever put him on a stand and cross-examined him? Have you ever said, “God, what are you doing to me?” Scripture says no one can say to him, “What are you doing?” But we do it a lot. When you go through a trial, don't put God on the stand. Remember that he's the King, he is God. Submit to what he's doing in your life. Humble yourself under God's mighty hand. Don't fight his disciplines, don't fight his judgments, humble yourself under his judgments, and say that he is righteous all together.

And understand non-Christians are putting God on trial all the time, we're called to be witnesses at the trial. Does that sound good? “You'll receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses.” So testify to the goodness of Jesus. Testify to the power and the love of Jesus to his death, his resurrection. Be witnesses at Jesus' trial. Amen. None of his disciples were there at that time, but now by the Spirit, we can do that, we can be witnesses at the trial of Jesus.

And if I can say this to you in terms of imitation, bear injustice more patiently than you do. You know what I'm talking about? Have you ever said out loud or at least in your heart, “That's not fair”? You started saying it when you were a child and one of your siblings got something you didn't get, and oh, the injustice of it. And it's grown inside your heart so that more and more you see things that are done that are unfair, people who have disrespected you, people who have treated you falsely or wrongly. And frankly, the more you get involved in evangelism and missions, the more this is gonna happen to you. People will hate you without a cause. 

The more you stand up for righteousness in our increasingly wicked culture, the more people are gonna pound on you and treat you unjustly. 1 Peter 2 covers that. When we are pounded unjustly, we are to imitate Jesus who handled himself so beautifully in this trial. It says again in 1 Peter 2, “He committed no sin, there was no deceit in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate. When he suffered, he made no threats.” So that's how we're supposed to bear patiently injustice. People being unfair to us. And again, it's not just the big ones, it's when someone cuts you off in traffic, when you're standing in line, and then people circumvent you at the food line, and something rises up in your heart about the injustice of it. Now, you've got good manners not to say anything about it, but it's in there, isn't it? You know what I'm talking about. Go to Jesus' trial and say, “He was silent, he was humble, and he had never done anything wrong. How much should I bear patiently anything that happens to me?”

Understand the Son of Man Prophecy: Jesus is Coming Again to Be Worshiped and to Judge the Earth

And then finally, understand the Daniel Son of Man prophecy. It is, along with Isaiah 53, the two most significant prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament, in my opinion. Isaiah 53 clearly explained substitutionary atonement, you heard me quote it earlier, but this one clearly explains the incarnation and the worship that Jesus is going to get from people from every tribe and language and people and nation. And that's awesome. Daniel 7 says, in the future, the entire human race is going to see Jesus coming back on the clouds of heaven. And it says in Revelation 1:7, “Every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him.” You know why? Because it'll be too late then. Now we have to see him with eyes of faith. Jesus is coming back. He's coming back. It's the next thing. He said, “Behold, I am coming soon.” Let us be faithful until he returns.

Close with me in prayer. Father, we thank you for the account of Jesus' trial. We thank you for how he was willing to bear patiently the false accusations of wicked people so that he could affect our atonement by his death. It was unjust, it was illegal, it was wicked, and Jesus bore it patiently to set us an example that we should follow in his steps and also to atone for us that we might worship him forever and ever. We thank you for Jesus. It's in his name that we pray. Amen.

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