15 April 2014

BSF 2013-2014: Matthew 26:47-27:31

When we finished our lesson last week, Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. After Jesus finishes praying, Judas arrives with “a large crowd armed with swords and clubs.” Judas kisses Jesus, the sign of his betrayal.

The previously sleeping disciples are startled by the situation. Peter wants to defend Jesus, so Peter draws a sword and cuts off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus immediately stops Peter and heals the servant’s ear. All of the disciples flee. Throughout His terrifying arrest, Jesus continues to submit to God’s will.

Next the religious leaders put Jesus on trial three times. But here are six reasons why these trials were unfair and illegal:
  • The religious leaders condemned Jesus before they put Him on trial. Their goal was to put Him to death.
  • They sought false witnesses instead of true, reliable witnesses.
  • Jesus had no defense. He stood alone.
  • The trials took place at night. By Jewish law, it was illegal to conduct a trial at night.
  • Jesus was put under oath and then was condemned for what He said under oath.
  • The trials should have taken place in the Sanhedrin’s regular meeting place not in the palace.
Jesus first went to Annas, the father-in-law of the high priest, Caiaphas. The religious leaders present false witnesses about Jesus’ words and actions. Jesus remains silent. The leaders ask Jesus if He is the Son of God. He said it is true, and He references a prophecy from Daniel.

Then the leaders condemn Jesus to death. They spit at Jesus and mocked and insulted Him. Jesus still remained silent.

During this trial, Peter watches from the courtyard. Two servant girls and a crowd accuse Peter of being one of Jesus’ disciples. Peter denies knowing Jesus three times. This happens just as Jesus predicted earlier that night. Peter realizes his sin and weeps bitterly because of his failure.

Judas also is there watching the trial. He also realizes his sin. He approaches the priests and confesses his sin against Jesus. But Judas never asks Jesus for forgiveness. Instead he hangs himself.

Peter repented; Judas regretted. Peter was broken; Judas was sorry. Peter was restored; Judas died in bondage to his sin.

Both Peter and Jesus were questioned about their identities. Peter caved under pressure, but Jesus stood firm. Peter reacted impulsively, but Jesus responded after being in prayer. Jesus was ready for His trials -- literally and figuratively -- because He had been in prayer; Peter was not ready for his trials because he had not been in prayer.

While the Jewish religious leaders want to punish Jesus with death, they cannot condemn someone to death. Only the Roman government can do that. So the religious leaders create a charge against Jesus that would affect the Roman government. They accuse Jesus of opposing payment to Caesar and of being a king.

Pilate almost ignores the first accusation and latches on to the fact that Jesus claimed to be a king. Pilate asks Jesus if He is the King of the Jews. Jesus says it is true. The religious leaders present their accusations to Pilate, but Jesus remains silent.

Pilate finds that Jesus is innocent. But when Pilate learns that Jesus is from Galilee, Pilate sends Jesus to Herod, the ruler over Galilee.

Herod isn’t interested in justice. He only wants Jesus to perform a sign. But once again, Jesus remains silent. Herod has Jesus beaten and ridiculed and then sent back to Pilate.

Once again, Pilate finds no reason to condemn Jesus. Even Pilate’s wife fights for the innocent Jesus. At Passover, Pilate traditionally releases one prisoner. He offers to release Jesus or Barabbas, a revolutionary who led riots against the government. The crowd asks for Barabbas and shouts, “Crucify him [Jesus]!”

Because Pilate does not want to lose his position or his authority over the people, he releases Barabbas and condemns Jesus to death. Pilate washes his hands and says he is innocent in Jesus’ death.

Jesus is flogged, mocked and stripped of His clothes. A crown of thorns is placed on His head, and a scarlet robe is placed over His shoulders. The soldiers spit on Him and finally lead Him away to be crucified.

Do you see yourself in these verses? Jesus endured this suffering so you can be reconciled to God and be set free from the bondage of sin. As He suffered all of this, He was thinking of you! What is your response to Jesus’ humble, willing sacrifice for you?

Things to Think About
  • How do I act toward Christ with other people? Do I represent Him? Do I betray Him? Do I flee when I should stand?
  • How do I handle the treason of my heart? Do I ignore it? Am I crushed by it? Do I turn to Jesus, seeking restoration and forgiveness?