Guilty As Charged.
Matthew 26:57, 59-68; Mark 14:53, 55-65; Luke 22:54, 63-65; John 18:24
Jesus replied, “I Am. And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.” – Mark 14:62 NLT
When Jesus was finally brought before Caiaphas, the high priest, He found Himself in a room crowded with leading priests, elders and teachers of religious law. Even the high council or Sanhedrin was there. They had pulled out all the big guns for this final showdown with Jesus. There is little doubt that they intended this evening to result in the elimination of Jesus as a threat to their authority and way of life. He had been a thorn in their side for far too long, and now they were going to deal with Him. The only problem was that they needed solid accusations for which to bring this matter before the Roman authorities. They were wanting to have Jesus put to death and they did not have the authority to do so. They were going to have to convince the Roman authorities that Jesus had committed a crime worthy of death. So all these well-educated religious leaders were attempting to find any evidence that they could use against Jesus. But even when they couldn’t find any charges worthy of death, they didn’t let that stop them. They had arranged for a variety of individuals to come and give witness against Jesus, but they all ended up contradicting one another. These people were more than willing to accuse Jesus, probably for the hope of financial gain. Finally, some men stood up and claimed that they heard Jesus say that He was going to destroy the Temple. “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this Temple made with human hands, and in three days I will build another, made without human hands’” (Mark 14:58 NLT). These men were actually twisting what Jesus had actually said. What Jesus had actually said was, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up (John 2:19 NLT). Jesus had made this statement early in His ministry. It took place immediately after He had cleansed the Temple for the first time. The Jewish leaders had confronted Him, asking Him what He thought He was doing and who gave Him the authority to do it. Then they asked Him to give them a miraculous sign to prove His authority. That’s when Jesus made His statement regarding the destruction and raising of the “temple.” They obviously didn’t understand that He was talking about His own death and resurrection. They saw Jesus’ statement as ridiculous, exclaiming, “What! It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuilt it in three days?” (John 2:20 NLT).
So in the minds of those accusing Jesus, His statement came across as the words of an insurrectionist. He had claimed He was going to destroy the Temple – Herod’s Temple. Now they were getting somewhere. This was just the kind of evidence they needed to bring before the Romans. The last thing the Roman authorities would want is someone threatening the peace and security of Jerusalem. But to the obvious disappointment of the religious leaders, even the men who accused Jesus couldn’t get their stories straight. So in frustration, the high priest asked Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” (Mark 14:60 NLT). But Jesus said nothing. The charges were false and He remained silent. Then the high priest asked Him point blank, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” (Mark 14:61 NLT). This was the real issue. When all was said and done, this was the main point of contention between Jesus and the religious leaders. He had claimed to be the Messiah. That was the reason the people followed Him. It was for that reason the people welcomed Him with palm branches and shouts of “Hosanna!” when He had arrived in Jerusalem the previous Sunday. He had set Himself up as having been sent by God. Not only that, He had claimed to be the Son of God. Jesus responded to Caiaphas’ question by saying, “I Am. And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62 NLT). His statement brought an immediate reaction from the crowd because they knew exactly what He was saying. He was claiming to be God. His use of the phrase, “I Am” was intentional. It was the very same way God referred to Himself when He spoke to Moses at the burning bush. Moses had asked God what name He should give when the people ask who it was who sent him. God said to tell them, “I Am who I Am” had sent him. Jesus was clearly associating Himself with God. He was using the same language that God had used in order to refer to Himself. On top of that, Jesus claimed that He was going to be sitting at God’s right hand, a place of honor and power, and that He would be returning some day. That was all they needed. Caiaphas tore his clothes in shock. They no longer needed any witnesses. Jesus had committed the unpardonable sin: blasphemy. He had claimed to be God. In reality, it was Jesus’ words that were the problem. Blasphemy was based on injurious or disrespectful words or speech. In their minds, by saying what He said, Jesus had diminished the holiness of God. He had treated God with disrespect and dishonored His “otherness” or set-apartness. By claiming to be God, Jesus had become an offense to God – at least in their minds.
Their immediate response was violent. They began to spit on Him. They blindfolded him and beat Him with their fists. They mocked Him, telling Him to use His “divine” powers to tell them who it was who was hitting Him. The one piece of evidence they needed, Jesus gave them. And all He did was speak the truth. He acknowledged who He was. To do anything other than that would have truly been blasphemy. If Jesus had denied His deity, He would have been an offense to God. So He spoke the truth, and it set in motion everything that was about to happen. Jesus was guilty as charged. Not of blasphemy, but of being the Son of God and the Savior of the world. His crime was being God. And His punishment would be death. But it was for just that purpose He had come. God had come to die on behalf of sinful men. He had come to sacrifice His own life for the lives of all those who deserved death. It was because Jesus was spotless, sinless, and blameless that He was condemned to die. His worthiness was what led to His demise. He was guilty of being God, and nothing else. And it is for that reason that He made a perfect sacrifice. He was guilty as charged and we are innocent because of it.
Father, Your sinless Son was put to death because He was holy, righteous, and fully God. He was killed because He was who He said He was. He died because He was the only one who was undeserving of death. He was innocent, and we were guilty, but He is the one who died. All so that we might have life. What an amazing turn of events. What an incredible plan. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men