Lighthouse Notes 06 26 2011 – Matthew 26: 47 – 75 (Pastor Joey Rountree)
Until now, the plot between the religious leaders and Judas has been behind the scenes. The disciples are unaware of what is taking place. Now we see the first outward display against Jesus. Today’s text covers the arrest and trial of Jesus. From man’s perspective, it looks as though Jesus has lost control of the situation. However, He is not a victim. He is in complete control. As the text will show, He is purposeful in every event leading up to the cross. He alone decides what He will do and what He will not do. He is going to the cross intentionally. During these events we will see Jesus and Peter face trials. Jesus will stand… Peter will crumble.
Jesus’ Arrest v 47 – 56
While Jesus was saying, “My betrayer is at hand,” Judas and a great multitude approach Him and the disciples. The Bible goes out of its way to hi-lite the treachery of the betrayal. Judas was not an enemy outside the camp. He walked in close proximity with Jesus for 3-1/2 years. Judas is accompanied by a great crowd carrying swords and clubs. It is a small army. Why? The religious leader’s interpretation of the Messiah caused them to anticipate a battle. They expect Jesus and His followers to draw their swords to fight. Judas’ kiss adds to the treachery. It is the kiss of betrayal.
To Judas: Jesus addresses Judas as friend. Even at this moment of betrayal, Jesus displays His love. He states, “Friend, do what you have come to do.” Jesus is never caught off-guard. He is here by divine commission; according to the will of the Father.
To the disciples: At this moment, were the disciples thinking, “wow, we really should have been praying?” Peter draws his sword and cuts off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus rebukes Peter. As believers, it is our responsibility to share the Gospel, not to retaliate against authority.
Jesus declares more than twelve legions of angels were readily available to dispatch. Imagine; Michael, standing on the threshold of heaven with sword drawn, thinking, “all we need is the word, one word.” Peter is rebuked because his reaction is wrong and unnecessary. Jesus is determined. Every event and action is in place to deliver Him to the cross. “…Scripture be fulfilled… verse 54.”
To the multitude: Jesus scolds them. He has taught among them for years. Now they come with swords and clubs.
“Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.”
Jesus’ Trial v 57 – 68
After His arrest, Jesus is taken before Caiaphas. The trial is not legal. It is a mock display that adheres to none of the religious leader’s own laws. It is night, there are no official charges (they will be made up), no trial could be conducted in one day, and the accused required counsel. The Jewish High Court, the Sanhedrin, was already convened (at night?)
Peter is following behind.
The verdict of death had already been decided. Now they needed a charge. “Many came forward to testify, to no avail. This is a testimony of Jesus’ sinlessness. They are struggling to find a charge. Then two false witnesses claim Jesus said He would destroy the Temple. It is a false witness because Jesus never made that claim. He said, “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). He was of course speaking of His own body, but the instruction was, “you destroy this temple.”
The high priest confronts Jesus with their accusation, and Jesus is silent. Did Jesus see the situation as futile? Is that why He didn’t speak? Consider how many times during His earthly ministry Jesus has put the religious leaders in their place. It would have been easy to do so now. But it would have severed the pathway to the cross. Therefore, He remained silent.
Anger is brewing in the hearts of the religious leaders. They hate this man.
Jesus is put under oath, demanding that He respond. He is ordered to answer a question. “Are you the Messiah; are You the Son of God?” Jesus answers, but His message is concealed. He responds, “It is as you said,” or “That’s your way of putting it.” Unlike what is going through Caiaphas’ mind (earthly military leader), Jesus continues to describe His kingdom. Jesus describes Himself as ruling from the “right hand of Power,” and “coming on the clouds of heaven.” That is all it takes. Jesus is accused of blasphemy. The people declare before the high priest, “He is deserving of death!” It is impossible to imagine what takes place in verses 67 and 68. We are told they spit upon Him, mocked Him, and beat Him. But these too were already things prophesied by Isaiah, and Jesus Himself (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 16:21, 20:19).
A Second Trial of Sorts v 69 – 75
While Jesus stands and endures the wrongful abuse and shame, Peter crumbles. Peter is approached by a servant girl who accuses him of being with Jesus. Peter denies her accusation and backs to the edge of the crowd. He is accused again, this time taking an oath, denies knowing Jesus. By now, Peter’s heart must be pounding. Then he is accused a third time, but with more persistence. His accuser says his accent gives him away. Peter curses and swears, calling God to validate his words. This would not mean Peter used curse words as we think of them today. He is asking God to pour a curse on someone if he is guilty of their accusations. His words could be rendered, “May God curse this Jesus; I do not know Him!” As the words left Peter’s mouth, the rooster crowed and Peter remembered. We are told, “he went out and wept bitterly.”
What an excruciating picture of our God and our frailty. Peter did what we do; crumble. But Jesus stood. He stood and endured and died on a cross for His people’s sins. To provide the only path of reconciliation between God and man — the cross of Jesus Christ.