1 Jan 2016

Matthew 26:59-66

Posted by joncooper

Matthew 26:59: “Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;
60 But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,
61 And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.”

The trial of Christ was bizarre. It was clearly illegal, because one could not hold a capital trial (a trial for life) after sunset. Yet, it was held anyway. When witnesses were brought forth and proven false they should have been executed, as per the Old Testament law, and Jesus released – and yet He was not. So the trial was a sham. Yet, despite that, the witnesses were actually cross-examined, and the priests refused to convict Jesus on the basis of false witnesses. Why you would have an illegal sham trial with obviously false witnesses, and then grill the false witnesses and refuse to convict when they were proven false, is a mystery. This was seriously messed up.

The fact that they had a trial at all is rather remarkable. Apparently there must have been those in their midst who were unwilling to simply railroad Jesus. They demanded a real trial, with real witnesses and a real case. Yet their attempts to frame Jesus utterly failed, and He came very close to being let go. Even with the illegality of the trial, the illegal witnesses, and the illegal prosecution, they still could not find grounds on which to convict Him of anything.

Then it got worse:

Matthew 26:62: “And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?”

It was actually illegal for the chief priest to directly question the accused. This trial was a mockery of Jewish and Old Testament law, and yet they were so desperate to execute Christ that they pressed on anyway:

Matthew 26:63: “But Jesus held his peace, And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.”

This is something that Jesus could not ignore. In the culture of the day, when a high priest framed a question like this (“I adjure thee by the Living God”) you could not just brush it off. You had to answer it. The priest had no right to ask it, but since he was the High Priest you had to answer. And so Jesus did:

Matthew 26:64: “Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

“Thou hast said” is not avoiding the question, as it appears in English. It was just a polite way (at the time) of saying yes, I am the Messiah. And what Jesus said was absolutely true. He had not only claimed to be the Messiah, but had amply demonstrated it. He had proven that He was God. So, of course, they decided to execute God for blasphemy – just as Jesus had predicted earlier, in the parable of the husbandmen who were renting the vineyard:

Matthew 26:65: “Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.
66 What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.”

So the chief priests took the only innocent man who ever lived and put Him to death.

Now, as I said before, Jesus really did have to die for our sins; there was no getting around that. But these men did not have to play a part in it. Nicodemus was not consenting to the Lord’s death, and these men didn’t have to consent either – but they did. That act earned them the wrath of God and the utter devastation of Jerusalem.


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