57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58 But 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.59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’” 62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” 64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”a]”>[a]65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy.66 What do you think?”
“He is worthy of death,” they answered.
67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”
In our last devotional, we discussed Jesus’ response to being falsely accused as well as our own response to the same action. Today, let’s take a look at a slightly different perspective and a little history behind the following passage. Matt. 26:57-68 tells us that Jesus stands before his accusers at a preliminary hearing. This particular group, also called the Sanhedrin, were an ad hoc committee consisting of Caiaphas the High Priest, the Jewish elders, and the teachers of the Law . This hearing took place late Thursday night so that the trials, sentencing and death penalty could be completed before the beginning of Passover which would start at sundown on Friday evening, according to Jewish Law. Jesus was taken to the house of Caiaphas. There, they desperately tried to find evidence against Him so that they could put Him to death. They had a difficult time coming up with reasons for a death sentence. Finally, though, there was this (Paraphrased Matt 26: 63-66):
Caiaphas: “Are You the Son of God”
Jesus: “It’s you who say I am. But I tell you this. You will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Almighty and coming on the clouds of Heaven.”
Caiaphas: “Blasphemy! He has spoken blasphemy! What do you think?”
Sanhedrin: “He is worthy of Death!”
From that point on, it was all over for Jesus. The group began to slap, punch, spit at, mock and insult Him. Here’s the thing: Jesus suffered in silence. Not only did He not defend himself, He bore OUR shame, OUR suffering, OUR penalty of Death when he faced His accusers, not His own. He didn’t blaspheme, He was the Son of God! He was there for us, for our sins. Jesus didn’t retaliate, didn’t use his deity to get through His humanity, even in anguish and pain. He stood stoic for you and for me. I picture the following when I know I’ve sinned, and, for me, it’s heartbreaking:
Jesus, I’m sorry that I lied (Here comes a slap in the face!). I’m really sorry that I gossiped (Next, a punch in the stomach!). My Lord, I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry that I turned my back on you….(Now for the mockery: “Prophesy to us, Messiah, Huh? Who hit You?? “Ha!) It seems never ending.
If Jesus seemed like the “fall guy”, that’s because He was and what a fall he took! To quote Michael W. Smith’s 2001 recording,
Like a rose trampled on the ground
He took the fall
And thought of me
Papa, As I think about what Your Son has done for me, it leaves me sorrow-filled, but when You think of me, it’s thoughts of such a deep, deep love I can’t possibly understand. I thank You that Jesus’ passion and death wasn’t the end of the story but rather His Resurrection from the dead that is both the end and a new beginning, which promises all of us a new life with You. We are eternally grateful!
In Jesus I come before You,