Matthew 26 - Jesus Surrenders to His Enemy

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Turn in your Bibles to Matthew 26:57;

 

57 And those who had laid hold of Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. 58 But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest’s courtyard. And he went in and sat with the servants to see the end.

 

59 Now the chief priests, the elders,[g] and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death,60 but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none.[h] But at last two false witnesses[i]came forward 61 and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’”

 

62 And the high priest arose and said to Him, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” 63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”

 

64 Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

 

65 Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy!66 What do you think?”

 

They answered and said, “He is deserving of death.”

 

67 Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, 68 saying, “Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?”

 

69 Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.”

 

70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.”

 

71 And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

 

72 But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!”

 

73 And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.”

 

74 Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!”

 

Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.

 

May God bless the reading of His word.

 

Let us pray.

 

In the previous verses we saw the events surrounding Jesus' arrest. Now Matthew takes us to the initial religious trial of Jesus.

 

Remember, it was the the temple guard, or religious police, who arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus is to be tried for His alleged violation of God's word.

 

We shouldn't be misled into believing that this is to be a fair trial. This is nothing more than a kangaroo court that has already determined the fate of Jesus. Remember, at the beginning of this chapter we read;

 

26 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to His disciples, 2 “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”

 

3 Then the chief priests, the scribes,[a] and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, 4 and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him. 5 But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”

 

As we already saw, God has moved forward the chief priests' timetable by literally giving Jesus into their hands before the feast through the discontent of Judas.

 

So, despite their previous plans, they find themselves with Jesus in the courtyard of the high priest, Caiaphas, ready to put Jesus to death.

 

As they take Jesus to His fate, a fate preordained by the Father before the foundation of the Earth, we are told that Peter follows from a distance and that he actually went into the courtyard with the servants to “see the end.”

 

So then we see what Peter saw from a distance.

 

Jesus stands before the chief priests, the elders and the council, who we are told were seeking “false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death.” From the beginning this facade is transparent. The priests are not only not seeking the Truth, which stands before them, but they are actively seeking that which they know is against one of God's foremost commandments for His people, “Thou shall not bear false witness.”

 

But though many false witnesses came against Jesus, none was able to bring testimony that was worthy of putting Jesus to death. Finally, when all seems lost, Matthew tells us;

 

But at last two false witnesses[i]came forward 61 and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’

 

If we go back to John chapter 2 we see the actual words of Jesus and the context which they are in. John 2:18 continues after Jesus drives the moneychangers and the dove sellers out of the temple. He tells us;

 

18 So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?”

 

19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

 

20 Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”

 

21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body.

 

When we compare these words against those of the false witnesses, we see that they have clearly added to the truth in order to falsely accuse Jesus. It is obvious that Jesus did not speak of God's temple, but rather of His own body, which John explains clearly in verse 21.

 

But Jesus does not answer the charges, which infuriates Caiaphas. Matthew records his outburst, telling us;

 

62 And the high priest arose and said to Him, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” 63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”

 

Finally, the real point comes to the front. Caiaphas asks Jesus outright if He is the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Son of God. In his question the high priest shows his understanding of who the Messiah is. There is no doubt in the mind of the Caiaphas that the Christ is the Anointed One, the very Son of God. This is what Scripture teaches over and over.

 

What's more, there was an expectation that the Messiah would appear at the very time that Jesus appeared. The religious scholars understood that the prophecies of Daniel spoke very clearly of the time frame that the Messiah would appear.

 

Jesus' because of His very nature, cannot lie.

 

He has been asked a direct question, and now comes His direct answer. He tells Caiaphas;

 

“It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

 

In this exchange, we see the reaction of men who are not given faith by God, to believe the truth of the Gospel. If Caiaphas had been spiritually resurrected and able to hear the testimony of the Holy Spirit then the words of Jesus would have pierced His very soul. But the words roll off of Caiaphas who is impervious to the truth.

 

Caiaphas' reaction to the Gospel show the reaction of all men who are not saved. The truth is an affront to them and instead of believing, they mock and accuse. Matthew tells us;

 

65 Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy!66 What do you think?”

 

The charge is indeed a charge deserving of death, if it Jesus were not the Son of God. But the charge of blasphemy is unwarranted, as we know, because Jesus is the Messiah and has proven over and over again through His words and deeds that He is unlike any man who has ever lived.

 

But Caiaphas is not seeking the truth.

 

He is merely looking for an excuse.

 

And now he has it.

 

But even in this, he is looking for affirmation. Though he is the high priest, he asks the other, who are also spiritually dead and unable to believe the truth, about their thoughts on the matter.

 

Matthew records their reply to Caiaphas' question:

 

“He is deserving of death.”

 

Paul tells us very clearly in Romans 6:23:

 

the wages of sin is death

 

If this is the requirement for death, then of all people who have ever lived, Jesus is the only Man who can claim rightfully that He is undeserving of that penalty. The Gospels all record Jesus' ultimate obedience to every command and word of God. In this He is unlike any other person who has ever lived.

 

But this is not taken into account by Jesus' accusers. They came into this trial with a verdict in hand. They had already determined that Jesus must die and though they professed to seek the truth, when they were confronted with it they denied it and used it as the justification for putting the One Who told them the truth to death.

 

Having been condemned, the council now goes about mocking and beating the Son of God. Our understanding is that Jesus must be blindfolded as this torture begins because we are told that they slap Him and hit Him in the face and then challenge Him to prophesy who it was that did this. Other accounts tell us of how these upstanding members of the religious community tore handfuls of Jesus' beard from His face.

 

It is only the beginning of what our Lord will endure on His way to the cross, but the frenzy and the hate help us to understand how utterly our Lord has fallen into the hands of the enemy.

 

As the trial concludes, Matthew turns our attention back to Peter. Loyal, ambitious, impetuous Peter. The one who swore that he would never forsake his Lord even if it meant his death.

 

Now it is clear that Peter's boldness is based in some part upon his confidence of Jesus to be present and to engage the enemies of God as well.

 

Clearly, though Peter and the other disciples had been warned before hand that Jesus must be lifted up.

 

Jesus has been fully handed into the hands of His captors and He will not rise up against them, in obedience to His Father's will.

 

We can imagine Peter's dismay, indeed his fear, as the Man who He trusted to help him walk on the water, and who calmed the stormy sea, now allows these men to berate Him and beat Him.

 

It is in this context that we read;

 

69 Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.”

 

Of course she is speaking of the Jesus who is being spat upon and beaten by the council mere yards away. Of course we know his reply;

 

70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.”

 

We can only imagine how Peter's confidence in His Lord waned as he rushed away from the scene.

 

71 And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

 

72 But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!”

 

Finally we are told;

 

73 And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.”

 

74 Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!”

 

Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.

 

I don't think that it is possible to even start to understand this most unique of circumstances in the history of mankind. It's no wonder that Peter's faith dwindled and he denied knowing the Man who he so faithfully tried to defend a short while before with a short sword.

 

Jesus, the Anointed One, the Son of God, was totally surrendered to those who sought His death.

 

This had not been the first time that Jesus had been sought by the Pharisees. Each previous time Jesus simply eluded them making them look like the fools that they were.

 

No matter what the adversity, demons, or nature or men, Jesus had triumphed over all, and Peter had been there. Perhaps he thought that such would be the case again, and that he would be present when His Lord unleashed His mighty power upon those who sought to do Him harm.

 

But such was not to be the case.

 

In order for God's providence to be fulfilled, Jesus must allow Himself to be put into enemy hands without protest, without recourse.

 

Never again will the King of kings and Lord of lords ever allow such complete surrender.

 

Indeed, no foe can come against Jesus, not even death itself unless He allows it.

 

If you confess Jesus as your Lord, then you only read of the surrender of Jesus to His captors. Fortunately, you do not have to experience it.

 

It is easy to criticize Peter in his moment of weakness, but how many times have we, who know that Jesus has overcome even death, relinquished and denied our affiliations with Him for little more than the favor of men or for our own selfish desires?

 

These failings are no less nor worse than Peter's. In truth, until we are glorified with our Lord we will likely know far more personal defeats than victories.

 

And yet, our Lord, Who knows all, still surrendered Himself to the enemy, that He might bear the burden for our failures, and realize His greatest triumph, His triumph over death and the grave.

 

The circumstances there in that courtyard that night are a microcosm of the reality we face in the grand world around us. The doubters, the unsaved, lash out and attack the Messiah and point menacingly at His followers. The world has nothing but contempt for God, His Son, the Holy Spirit, and those that are His sheep.

 

Let us face darkness and tribulation, doubt and failure, not with a sense of dread, but with a sense of hope. For unlike Peter, we know the end of this story. We know that Jesus overcame the world and all of His foes to one end, the redemption of His sheep, to the glory of God alone.

 

What have we to fear?

 

And if you have never confessed Jesus as your Lord, I challenge you to seriously consider the words of Jesus spoken here.

 

There are those that say that Jesus was a wise and noble teacher, but that He never claimed to be God.

 

And yet, when asked if He was the Christ, the Anointed One, the Son of God, Jesus did not deny it.

 

Either Jesus lied, or He was a lunatic, or He is truly Who He says He is.

 

The proof of His claim resides clearly at the grave.

 

If He were a liar then death would have held Him for lying is a sin.

 

If He were a lunatic, His tomb would still be full and His sheep scattered to the wind, embarrassed at having fallen under the spell of a crazy man.

 

But the tomb is empty.

 

Jesus defeated death and the grave, because He is Who He say He is.

 

Will you be like those who mocked Him and beat Him in their frenzied hate of the Son of God?

 

Or has God given you the faith to believe the Gospel, that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died for your sins, and that your only hope is to confess Him as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead.?

 

 

Let us pray.  

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