A Biblical Examination of Jesus’ Trial Before the Religious of His Day
The path to the Cross finds it judgment before the religious. Matthew 26:57-68 holds truths that should shock all who read them. The Jewish religious leaders question our Lord’s authority, seek for false witnesses, mock and beat the heavenly final high priest, Jesus Christ. We read, “Those who arrested Jesus took Him to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled.” (Matthew 26:57)
There are several key truths to Jesus standing before a religious spirit which needs to be considered. Understanding these truths will keep our spiritual hearts in good order for the Easter season.
1.) Jesus was taken before an illegal trial, Jews were not to hold trials at night or during festivals. (Barbieri, L. A., Jr. (1985). Matthew. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 85). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books; Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Mt 26:57). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press; Barbieri, L. A., Jr. (1985). Matthew. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 85). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.) Jesus faced opposition from the religious. The Apostle Paul face oppositions from those in the synagogue and from Jews who claimed to be God’s children. We have just observed St. Patrick’s Day, he faced opposition from the church of his day. Martin Luther face opposition from the established church of his day. Christians will face opposition from a religious spirit of their day. Especially if their work for the Lord challenges the cancer of traditionalism produced by the will of mankind not birthed by the whole counsel of God’s Word.
2.) The religious were looking for false witnesses. “The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus…” The Gospel of Mark tells us, “Many testified falsely against Him, but their statements did not agree.” (Matthew 26:59; Mark 14:55-56) It is not uncommon to see the so called church attack those in a Christ appointed work. They search to find evidence to bring down a work that does not fit in with the cancer of traditionalism. God pronounces a truth through Hosea, The prophet, along with my God, is the watchman over Ephraim, yet snares await him on all his paths, and hostility in the house of his God.” (Hosea 9:8) God sends His message of warning and direction, yet “those who have abandon their faith in the true Christ” will reject the words sent through the watchmen of God. (The Pulpit Commentary; Craigie, P. C. (1984). Twelve prophets (Vol. 1, p. 59). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press) All through church history there has been hostility to God and His servants among those who are like the Israelites of old, a people who claim to be a people of God, yet the fruit of hostility arises as the whole counsel of God’s Word is taught. (Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F. (1996). Commentary on the Old Testament (Vol. 10, p. 81). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.)
3.) Jesus Testifies About Himself: The Gospel of Mark tells us, “…the high priest asked, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am.'” (Mark 16:61b-62a) The Jewish Church of Jesus’ time boldly proclaimed their verdict, “The high priest tore his clothes. ‘Why do we need any more witnesses?’ he asked. ‘You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’ They all condemned him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at Him, they blindfolded Him, struck Him with their fists, and said, ‘Prophesy!'” (Mark 14:63-65) The Religious have only two choices. Jesus is the Messiah: aa.) They give their entire life in adoration, worship, and service or bb.) They reject Him.
A question that should never be asked, but sadly is, “Why was Jesus despised and rejected by religious people who claim to be God’s people?” Psalm 22 is often called the psalm of the Cross, catch this heart breaking truth, “scorned by everyone, despised by the people.” (Psalm 22:6) Isaiah hold’s another truth, “He was despised and rejected by mankind…” (Isaiah 53:3)
Getting to the heart of the reason why religious people despise the true Christ. He opposes traditions of worship which are not of the whole council of God’s Word. Jesus addresses the issue clearly with the Pharisees as He quotes Isaiah, “…people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” (Mark 7:6-7; Isaiah 29:13)
A.) Churches will fight over key Biblical Christian observances, while neglecting the heart of the purpose of the observances. aa). There is the conflict of mode of baptism while neglecting the heart of baptism. bb). There is the conflict how often to observe Communion, what happens during the Communion service, while neglecting the heart of the Lord’s Supper and it purpose. cc). There is the conflict on were and how Christians should congregate while missing the heart of God’s purpose. Like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time the cancer of traditionalism blinded their eyes to what all God is doing. An elderly pastor stood before a congregation and insulted an expanded view point of preaching the Word of God which would have been a fulfillment of 2 Timothy 4:2. “Preach the Word.” The congregation was incorrectly influenced, thus the expanded vision from God’s Word had to be exercised with a different ministry. Unfortunately, the cancer of traditionalism often prevents the expansion of God’s work in the church He wants to do a work in.
B.) Churches will select church officials, leaders and workers without even considering God’s Word on the Biblical qualifications of a person desiring a certain position. aa.) A Bible teacher giving a church recommendations of Bible studies on how to select elders, deacons, pastors, teachers, etc. was met with such opposition, the church eventually had a church split, of which it has never fully recovered. bb.) A Bible Scholar was teaching a group of church overseers of a key truth asking this question of candidates desiring to take on the task of church oversight, “Is the Holy Spirit moving you to be an overseer?” He was told in that meeting, “That does no bear witness with my spirit” – Someone in that meeting failed to read and study his Bible. The New Testament says, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28) The religious leaders of Jesus’ time was so focused on their traditions they insulted our Lord’s disciples, (Mark 7:1-3) on which the Lord replied. “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” (Mark 7:8)
C.) Church attendees will determine their relationship with God based on their attendance record, not on their sacrificial exercising of their Spiritual gifts which are given for the purpose of serving the Lord, other Christians and for the good of all mankind. This is the result of modern day Pharisees failing to Biblically teach all the Holy Spirit Gifts. A quality mature Bible teaching ministry will have some way of:
aa.) Teach how to Biblically determine Holy Spirit Gifts.
bb.) Teach how to Biblically mature Holy Spirit Gifts.
cc.) Teach how to sacrificially exercise those endowments.
You can find list after list of some of the Holy Spirit gifts, but to find a complete list, along with Biblical instructions on how to determine, mature and exercise those gifts, not likely.
Illustration.) A Bible teacher was visiting a church of certain denomination which is known for it’s hunger for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. When the God appointed watchman pointed out that the church as a whole around the world is guilty of not having teaching manual’s which can be handed out. The teacher did not feel as welcome as he did before he spoke up. Several places in the Bible give instructions of the importance of writing down God’s truths so they can be passed on and we are to be diligent about it. (Romans 12:6; 2 Timothy 4:1-2; 1 Timothy 4:13-15; Exodus 17:14; Isaiah 8:1; 30:8; Jeremiah 45:1; Malachi 3:16)
Application: Khole’s Kicking camps trains place kickers. There is a book they hand out to those participating in the camps. This training manual hold’s important content: 1.) Accountability, a list of several hundred of the names of place kickers who are presently kicking in college football all the way to the NFL. 2.) Key points to being a place kicker or punter. 3.) Conditioning program for kickers and punters. 4.) How to approach a potential college. 4.) They back their kickers by assisting them. They have determined, the kickers who go the farthest, are the ones who will read and make disciples of others.
Imagine what God would do with a church that takes her call seriously enough to do the hard work of Biblically teaching about the Holy Spirit Gifts, writing it down, then offering it out. Imagine what the Lord could do with a church who enables Christians to determine their gifts, develop their gifts, and challenges them to exercise their Holy Spirit Gifts under the influence of Agape love. One could only imagine what the Lord will do with such a church.
Examining the lives of the religious dead at the time of what is called passion week should cause us to pause, think and make the proper adjustments. Jesus told the religious leaders of His day, those who said they were God’s children, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and he does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” (John 8:44) When Christians make time to observe the Lord’s Supper, they are called to examine themselves, (1 Corinthians 11:28) The Communion Service was instituted when the Jesus met with His disciples, while having last supper. Jesus spoke a truth that should shake every living soul. While speaking about Judas, who was the betrayer who led the religious dead to Jesus, in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus said, “…but owe to that man whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had never been born.” (Matthew 26:24)
The Bible teaches, a true love relationship with the Lord has the heart which examines itself before partaking in the Communion Service, so one may not be guilty of participating in an unworthy manner. (1 Corinthians 11:27) The Bible holds a truth written by the Apostle Paul, a truth which should guide all Christians, who have placed their sins under the blood of Christ, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)
We should let the Holy Spirit of the resin Christ place truth within us as we take a Biblical look at the trail of Jesus before the religious spirit, the need of a disciplined heart.
Before Pilate, Herod and the Crowd:
On the Path to the Cross, Jesus stood before Pilate and Herod. A Biblical examination of their dealing with Jesus will allow the Holy Spirit to give us a clear understanding of unrepentant mankind’s response to God’s redemptive work through Jesus Christ.
It is interesting that Pilates wife was given a dream which troubled her enough to send a message to him, “Do not have anything to do with this innocent man.” (Matthew 27:19) Pilate knew that it was out of envy the Sanhedrin handed Jesus over to him. (Matthew 27:18) Pilate nor Herod found no basis of accusations that would warrant Jesus being put to death. (Luke 23:4; 13, 15, 16, 20, 22) The Bible says, “Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to the [Sanhedrin]” (Luke 23:20) three different times. (Luke 23:22) Pilate said, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. After examining Him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any charges against Him. Neither did Herod, for he sent Him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by Him.” (Luke 23: 15, 22) Matthew tells us when Pilate saw he was getting nowhere he stood before the crowd, “[he] washed his hands with water and said, ‘I am innocent of this Man’s blood. It is your responsibility.'” (Matthew 27:24) The whole crowd responded, “His blood is upon us and our children.” (Matthew 27:25) The beloved John tells us when Pilate heard that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, he “even became more afraid.” (John 19:8) While Pilate spoke with Jesus he recognizes his God given authority, “Do you realize I have power to free you or crucify you?” (John 19:10) Jesus sets the record straight, “You would have no power over Me if it were not given to you from above.” (John 19:11) The Bible says, “wanting to please the crowd, Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified.” (Mark 15:15)
Thus the sin of Adam is still manifesting itself, man relinquishing his authority to please someone else. (Romans 5:12; Genesis 3 – The Fall) Just as Adam had the authority to say no to Eve, Pilate and Herod had the authority to set Jesus free. But their hard hearts caused them to be guilty of not believing in who Jesus was, thus they did not do what is right when it was evident Jesus was not guilty nor worthy of death.
God has placed mankind in places of authority, they have the power and freedom to do what is right in accordance to God’s Word, yet they let the influences of the crowd move them to please personal interest. Thus we see the legalization of shedding innocent blood (abortion), the approval of sexuality (homosexuality, transgender, fornication, multiple marriages) which pleases the view of mankind, not God. Hard hearts are embracing that which is evil, calling it good and calling what the Bible says is good, evil. There is that old falsehood which got it start with Eve, “Did God really say?” (Genesis 3:1)
The outcry of the crowd today has not changed, give us that which supports any rebellion to God’s truths and crucify any truth which is pleasing to God. Anyone who proclaims God’s truth in regard to what is misleading mankind today it at risk of public ridicule, mocking, and despising. There is nothing more pleasing to a world view than to make it difficult to preach and teach God’s Word as it pertains to mankind’s temptations and trials. Addressing these influences would bring sinful mankind to the Cross of Christ, pointing sinners to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.
We see the hardness of people who are religious, but not surrendered to Christ in their lives. So hard hearted were the Jews at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion they said, “His blood is upon us and our children.” (Matthew 27:25) A people who knew the teaching of the Old Testament, they had read of God’s chastisements time after time. God moved other nations to take them captive because of their rebellion and sins. (Warnings from Israel’s Past, 1 Corinthians 10: 1-1; Ezekiel 21:24-27 Babylon as God’s Sword of Judgment; Genesis 6:5; Deuteronomy 29:24-26; 2 Chronicles 7:19,22; Jeremiah 18:9-10) They had seen their children not follow the ways of God time and time again. (Judges 2:10-15) Now they are calling down curses upon them and their children. Even in modern times we have read of the Holocaust of the Jews (The Lexham Bible Dictionary) and there will be coming attacks on the Jewish people up until the last days. (Luke 21:25-36) Exodus 20 holding the Ten Commandments shares a frightening truth which should had been a warning to the Jews at Jesus’ trial before the unbelievers, as well as us. “…punishing the children for the sins of their parents until the third and fourth generations…” (Exodus 20:5b)
We all need to walk in a reverent fear of the Lord, we must not let our children see in us a willful disobedience to God’s Word. When we slip into a sin, our children must have an understanding that we are seeking the Lord not only for forgiveness, but also His empowerment to overcome that sin that so easily beseeches and entangles us.
As Jesus stood before Pilate, the Roman governor who authorized the crucifixion of our Lord said, “…for this reason I was born into and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone who is on the side of the truth listens to Me.” (John 18:37b) The truth (ἀλήθεια alḗtheia) relating the word of truth (God’s Word) which moves people to live a life of integrity before God and Christ which is enabled by the Holy Spirit of Christ.
(Borchert, G. L. (2002). John 12–21 (Vol. 25B, p. 243). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers; Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 378). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.) Truth is realizing a person may be academically right and theologically correct but still lack integrity in life. This is often seen among those who serve in governmental positions as well as in appointments of religious positions. (The New American Commentary)
The Bible says Pilate “retorted” (NIV) “What is truth?” (John 17:38) Here is Jesus, the full embodiment to of truth and Pilate misses the opportunity of full repentance. It is believed Pilate’s question was not genuine. The Bible does not record him waiting for an answer to his question, but he quickly walks out to the Jewish crowd. (John 18:38) Jesus has answer for those who would retort, “What is truth” – “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” (John 8:47)
Christians are called to teach and live God’s truths for all to see like Jesus did. (Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Bible; Ephesians 4:25) Where is your heart in regard to Jesus and the cost He paid for the sins of the world? Do people see in one who walks in the crowd, crucifying the truths or clinging to the whole truth of God’s Word?
The Easter Story is God taking a life which was being spent on self, the pleasures of this world, blinded by the devil, and turning it around to achieve all of His good purposes. The Word of God has some good news. The “New Creation” is living as a new man in Christ which enables you to live a “Life with Real Meaning.” The greatest tragedy in life is not death, it is to go through your entire life without knowing and living out your purpose for which God created you.
You will find the real meaning of your life as you let the same Holy Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwell within your heart. Allowing Christ to be both Savior and Lord of your life literally brings your soul, which was once dead in sin, back to life. “…If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.” (Romans 8:11) Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is also for us today, “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (Eph. 3:16-17)
One of the secrets to finding meaning in this life that satisfies the soul is to understand what God means in regard to having Christ dwell in your hearts. To “dwell” (katoikeo) means to give Christ full permission to take up full residence by His Spirit in your spiritual heart. It means to give Christ full permission to take up full residence by His Spirit to set your life in order.
The idea is letting Christ come into your heart and life that He may be a ruling master, so that He may take every part of your body and life and use it for His Father’s purposes. Your first and most important meaning of being created is that you become an inhabitation of the Lord, reflecting the likeness of Christ through all you do. You are created for His glory not your own. What God is saying is, “Let Me tell you what your purpose for living is and then you can start to enjoy your life.” This is why the Holy Spirit moved the apostle to write, “And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Cor. 5:15) Doe your life reflect a new creation in Christ Jesus?
A life connected to the “Ever-Flowing Life of Easter” is a meaningful life and it is a life “Freed by Grace.” Romans 11:6 says, “And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” Ephesians 2:8-10 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” F.F. Bruce points out, “These passages are the watchword for the reformation theology: ‘By grace alone, through faith alone, to God alone be the glory.’” When we really meditate upon it, God has “Amazing Grace.”
“Grace” (charis) means that we are justified freely by God’s own hand, nothing done by us. The application is we have free forgiveness through Christ’s sacrificial death on the Cross and thus we have reconciliation to a holy God. It is impossible to achieve victory over sin merely by striving to do things. All salvation is by God’s grace. It is unmerited divine help that even causes even a sinner to have a desire to want to seek the Lord, to inquire about the Christ and then have the ability to live a life pleasing to Him. If you know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord or if you have been given the opportunity to consider what you will do with Christ, then it is by God’s grace alone. Without Him there would be no drawing to Christ or ability to respond to the gospel and live it out. (John 16:5-15)
God is willing and wanting to give us all grace. The Holy Spirit moved the apostle Paul to write about this powerful truth, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” On the Cross of Calvary Jesus Christ paid the only payment that could purchase your freedom from the bondage of sin. Robert Lowry wrote, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
Let the Holy Spirit of Christ keep you from the cancers of “Traditionalism,” “Denominationalism.” “Legalism,” and “Faddism,” trust only in God’s grace in Christ. Does your life express the grace of God upon it?
When Jesus was crucified on the Cross, and was raised again on the third day, He got victory over sin and death and that purchased the abundant life in Christ which is available to all who will surrender to His Lordship.
The Apostle Paul, moved by the Holy Spirit wrote a powerful truth that should govern the lives of all Christians who desire to enjoy the “Ever-flowing Life of Easter,” “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
Easter has a whole lot more for you than just a special Sunday for family meals. Easter is about coming alive. The heart that understands what Jesus accomplished on the first Easter births forth a “Life Filled with Meaning,” and “Life Freed by Grace.” We live in an area that if we are willing to work hard we can enjoy pleasure, money, acceptance, recognition, position, possessions, and recreation. Compared to many parts of the world, we really do have the good life. “The Good Life” has a way of hiding the truth for a while. Life is not supposed to work unless it is Christ-centered. A Christ-centered life is lived by allowing the Holy Spirit of God to move you to live in a way that shows God’s grace upon your life. A Christ-centered life reflects a heart that is concerned about the testimony of Jesus among those who claim His name.
The Christian life that has a good testimony for the Lord is a new creation in Christ, is freed by grace and accepts the Gift, Jesus Christ from God. Your life can be an expression of the truths of the Easter story by allowing the Holy Spirit to place this truth within your spiritual heart, “And if Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you. He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.” (Romans 8:11) Does your life reflect a life that is surrender to the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead?
The apostle Paul wrote about this redemptive work of Christ upon the Cross and victory that is available to the children of God through the resurrection of Christ. He writes, “So you are no longer a slave…” (Galatians 4:7) Jesus said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (Jn. 8:36)
On the Cross of Christ the price was paid in full for your freedom so you can be freed from the bondage to sin. There is a Biblical term for this freedom that the Lord purchased for those who have Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. The term is “redemption.” “Redemption” (apolutrosis) here means to let go free for a ransom. There are many forms of this word for “redemption” in the New Testament. “Lutroo,” is “The recalling of captives to set them free, referring to sinners set free from captivity, the bondage of sin, by the payment of a ransom for them through Christ’s death.” It is important to note that in a least four passages of Scripture sin is presented as slavery. (John 8:34; Romans 6:17,20; 2 Peter 2:19) Another form of the Greek word for “redemption” (lutron) means “Deliverance on account of the ransom paid” as spoken of the deliverance from the power and the eternal consequences of sin which Christ purchased by laying down His life as a ransom for those who believe. Redeemed (lutroo) by the highest cost possible, through the shed blood of Christ. Redeemed, (agorazo) literally set free from the slave market of sin, death, and hell. Redeemed, (exagorazo) literally delivered out of the enslavement to sin. In the first century, whenever the Greek Word (lutron) for “redemption” was used, people would naturally know that it was referring to the price being paid to free slaves.
Because of the redemptive work of the true Easter story, the child of God has been set free and is at liberty to live a life of real meaning, freed from the sinful passions that destroy fellowship with the Lord and devastates lives. True born again Christians have been delivered of sins and are enjoying the empowerment of the Holy Spirit of Christ to overcome sin. For example, those once hooked on drugs or alcohol have been set free. Those bound by adultery or steeling are set free. The redemptive work of freedom from sin goes on and on for those who truly enjoy the “Ever-flowing Life of Easter.” Live a life that reflects that Christ redeemed you!