Matthew 26:66 (Judged Guilty)

In the very early morning hours on Thursday of Passion week, before the sun had risen, Jesus was interrogated by Caiaphas, the acting High Priest, after being taken first to Annas, his father-in-law, who was the former high priest, and who as his elder still wielded the power of the office.  Jesus’ teaching and cleansing in the temple threatened his very lucrative temple merchandising that the Romans allowed him in exchange for his insider help in maintaining order among the subjugated Jews.  As Annas was the Roman’s puppet, so did he pull the strings of Caiaphas, whose job it now was to find grounds to prosecute Jesus to the Romans in order to make Him and the trouble arising because of Him go away.

Time was of the essence to have Jesus put to death before His followers had a chance to protest, especially since the official Passover as reckoned by the Jewish leaders would start later that day, followed by the required sabbath for Unleavened Bread on Friday and then the seventh day sabbath on Saturday.  If Jesus was not put to death that day but remained in custody over the extended religious celebration, the trouble they were seeking to avoid would surely explode.  Why was that?  See Mat 26:5 and consider that they knew that Jesus had the popular support of the throngs of people filling the city; cf. Mat 27:18.  His many followers from throughout Judea and Galilee were also there in Jerusalem for the Passover and would be gathering and conversing with friends and extended family; cf. Joh 7:12,31,40-43, 9:16, 10:19-21.  Think too: how would the God-designed purpose of the festival add to His support as those gathered there were reminded by the law and the prophets proclaimed in the synagogues and the temple of the same spirit that filled Jesus’ teaching?  What does this remind us about the infinite wisdom of God that so clearly understands not only the physical forces of the universe that account “for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years” (Gen 1:14), but also the spiritual forces of sin and darkness, and righteousness and truth, so as to use them to accomplish His own purposes, such that He could sovereignly ordain the Savior to die by the free will of men on the very day at the exact time that the religious leaders were sacrificing their Passover lambs?  See Rom 11:33.

But condemning the innocent is never easy, much less the perfect Son of God, so that only by a complete distortion of right and wrong could it be accomplished.  For even the false testimony that He would destroy the temple and build it again in three days, and that He was a threat to the Romans for stirring up trouble and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, was weak and inconsistent, and not likely to hold up to scrutiny.  And so it was that the primary charge they settled on as the strongest for their case was that He, the Christ, the Son of God, confessed to being the Christ, the Son of God!  What does this remind us about the way that sin is able to so completely distort the truth that the truth is no longer recognizable, though right in front of us?  What does it also teach us about why man’s greatest need for salvation is from sin, of which all other bondages are but a symptom?  And what does this again remind us about why if a person is not saved from sin, he is not truly saved?

Having torn his robes to visibly express his false concern for God’s honor, and announced his own verdict that Jesus had blasphemed to provide a lead to the others that he had what he was looking for to put Him to death, how did Caiaphas’ yes-men then respond?  See Mat 26:66.  What does this “leading” teach us about the way that leaders are able to abuse their positions of power to unjustly influence an outcome, and thus the importance of having safeguards in place—and following them—to  protect against such?  In what way is the leadership required in God’s kingdom so radically different that it naturally guards against such abuse?  See Mat 20:25-28.

Note that the NASB deserving of death is literally guilty of death, i.e., guilty of a crime that is deserving of death; cf. the KJV.  Thus, it was here that they pronounced their judgment upon Jesus that He was guilty of claiming to be who He in fact was, and should die as a result.  So twisted by the deceitfulness of sin was their perception of the truth that they judged the living Word of God, who is the source of all justice, guilty unto death of violating the law that is defined by His own nature; cf. Joh 5:37-40.  Although they judged Him guilty of blasphemy and deserving of physical death, by so doing in what way did they actually judge themselves guilty of the very same thing, but in a much higher court, and with much greater judgment?  See Luk 19:22, 22:65; cf. Mat 5:21-22.  Although various blasphemies and even words spoken against Jesus might be forgiven (Math 12:31-32), as were Paul’s (1Ti 1:13), why is it hardly possible that by condemning Jesus to death as a malefactor that His enemies did not also blaspheme the Holy Spirit and so incur the guilt of an eternal sin?  Cf. Mar 3:28-30, Luk 3:22, 4:1,14,18, Joh 1:32-33.  How did Jesus’ subjection to this worldly court and the very different eternal consequences both for Himself and those who cast judgment upon Him exemplify to His disciples the truth of which He spoke in Mat 10:28?  Is it possible for people today, even those who profess to follow Christ, to likewise by their deceived actions judge themselves guilty of the body and blood of Christ?  See 1Co 11:27.

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  • What is the relationship between Jesus’ sacrifice and our redemption, forgiveness and receiving an inheritance per the terms of the covenant / will that was effected by His death?
  • From what, and to what, are we saved? Is it Jesus’ death alone that saves us? What part does His resurrection have in our salvation?
  • Does the justice of God demand the satisfaction of blood before He will forgive, similar to what pagans throughout history have believed?
  • What was the purpose of the Old Testament sacrifices?
  • Does blood alone atone for sin?
  • How does Christ’s death render powerless the devil?
  • To whom was Christ’s life given as a ransom? From what are we ransomed?
  • Why did Jesus not only die, but suffer and die? If all that was necessary was His shed blood, why didn’t God sovereignly ordain a more merciful death for His own dear Son?
  • What is the relationship between a will or testament, and a covenant? What was willed to Jesus as an inheritance from His Father, and what was willed to us through the new testament in His blood?