Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller


The Arrest and Trial of Jesus Christ

Matthew 26:47-68

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A staple of television drama is the court or legal show. From Perry Mason through Law and Order, The Good Wife, and many others-we have all become familiar with the procedures of evidence, the arraignment and order of a trial. What we don\'t realize is that much of the foundation of our justice system comes from the Old Testament Law and the way the Jewish courts operated, or at least were supposed to operate. The book of Deuteronomy contains several chapters outlining the legal processes-especially chapter 19 which deals with things like manslaughter and the role of both true and false witnesses.

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The idea was that Israel was to be a nation of laws, given by God, which took things like revenge and subverting justice out of the hands of man. But as we see in the latter portion of Matthew 26, the court that condemned Jesus was neither based on God\'s Law, fair, nor even legal. It was, in fact, an attempt to legitimize murder. Jesus will face six \"trials\"-three before Jewish officials and three before secular (Herod, Pilate). He will either be dismissed or condemned by all of them.

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So why, in God\'s redemptive plan for planet earth, would He allow His Son to go through such proceedings? Why should man condemn God? Let\'s find out as we study this arrest and trial of Jesus. Now, there is a second narrative that overlays this one, that of Peter and his denial of Jesus. I plan to look at that in detail next time.

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47 - 50a

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The group that approaches Jesus is made up of temple guards. These were men allowed to make arrests for minor infractions. A small number of Roman soldiers also accompanied the group to keep order (John 18:3).

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Matthew says they came from the Chief Priests and elders, Mark adds the Scribes. These three groups made the Sanhedrin, or ruling council of Israel-a council before whom Jesus would appear shortly.

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Judas kissed Jesus because He would be hard to pick out in the dark, and because Judas would be Jesus\' chief accuser (though he never followed through). A kiss was a common and informal greeting. Judas had eaten with Jesus hours earlier, now using a sign of affection and friendship, he hands Him over to those who want to murder Him.

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Jesus says \"Friend, do what you came to do.\" It can also mean \"What have you come here for?\" First, Jesus offers mercy even to the traitor Judas. By the second interpretation, Jesus may have been calling out to Judas like God did to Adam and Eve-to get them to identify for themselves the sin they are committing. By the first translation, Jesus essentially gives Judas permission. Remember: Jesus is in control here-complete control.

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Application: You can\'t cover betrayal by delivering it with a kiss.

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The leaders feared arresting Jesus in the daylight, so they come under darkness, both literally and spiritually, to arrest Jesus.

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50b - 54

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John tells us (John 18:10) that it was Peter who drew the sword and cut off the right ear of the High Priest\'s servant Malchus. I guess it was Peter\'s way of showing his loyalty to Jesus. Jesus stopped him and Luke says (Luke 22:51) healed the servant\'s ear, thus freeing Peter from accusation.

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Jesus then shows that His arrest was completely permitted. No one was \"taking\" Him, he was \"letting\" them do it. A Roman legion was 6,000 troops and 120 cavalry. More than 73,000 angels can do quite the damage, seeing that 1 angel destroyed 185,000 Assyrian troops in one night (2 Kings 19:35).

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Our efforts to secure salvation are like Peter trying to \"save\" Jesus with a sword. We think we are so powerful and able to \"help God out.\" But our efforts will only backfire (he who lives by the sword dies by the sword - probably a local proverb). Besides the fact that Peter had a terrible aim (he didn\'t really aim for the man\'s ear did he?), it would have accomplished nothing. Had Peter been able to free Jesus, he and everyone else in the world would have been condemned to an eternity in the custody of sin.

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55 - 56

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It was so ridiculous for the people to arm themselves like they were coming to arrest a dangerous man. Jesus had spent much time in the open temple where they could have arrested Him anytime, but they waited, like cowards, for the cover of darkness. But again, no weapons or handcuffs were needed. Jesus was really arresting Himself, just as we\'ll see in a moment, also puts Himself on trial and condemns Himself to die-all in God\'s plan.

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Jesus said He must fulfill \"Scriptures of the prophets\" which spoke of a suffering Savior (Isaiah 53:3, for one: \"He was despised and rejected by men\"). The disciples, who had just hours before said they would never desert Him do that very thing. Jesus had to be alone when He faced the cross and the penalty for our evil.

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57 - 68

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Basically two things are happening simultaneously here, like a movie cutting between two scenes happening at the same time to increase the sense of action. The first is the meeting of the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of Israel, made up of the chief priest, the elders, and the scribes. The other is the trial of Peter-which we\'ll get to next time.

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1. The Trials

John (John 18) tells us that Jesus was brought first to Annas, who was the father in law to the high priest and had served in that position until deposed by the Romans. They may have shared a courtyard with Caiaphas. Annas questioned Jesus about His teaching but Jesus simply answered that he should ask those who had bothered to listen (obviously Annas was not one of those). One of the soldiers struck Jesus and then sent him on to Caiaphas.

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The Sanhedrin was in a hurry - a real rush to judgment. Why? Because they needed to have this all done before the Sabbath, when all such activity would cease. They were in such a rush that the held the \"trial\" at night, despite it being illegal. Here are just a few ways this first trial was a sham:

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1.????? It happened at night (capital trials could happen only during the day according to Mishna \"Sanhedrin\" Vol 1)

2.????? His judges were also the ones who wanted him killed (they were not impartial)

3.????? Those would have acquitted him were not present (like Joseph of Arimathaea)

4.????? The arrest was the result of a bribe (Exodus 18:21)

5.????? His accuser was not there (Judas had given up and hanged himself)

6.????? The trial took place in a home, rather than the court of law (Chamber of the Hewn Stone)

7.????? The charge was supported by false witnesses (Deut 19:18)

8.????? The charge was switched from blasphemy to treason before Pilate (blasphemy was actually only speaking God\'s personal name)

9.????? The merits of Jesus\' defense were not considered (Deut 13:14)

10.? The Sanhedrin itself was not allowed to originate charges.

11.? The outcome was presupposed (no \"innocent until proven guilty\")

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They had plenty of witnesses but no two could get their story straight. Even though in verse 61 it seems they had two witnesses who agreed, in Mark 14:59 it says they did not. Numbers 35:30 says you needed two witnesses to put someone to death. Destroying temples was illegal even under Roman law. But Jesus had simply said \"destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up\" (John 2:19) - not \"I will destroy this temple ...\"). He was referring to Himself, not the temple, but it was enough to get the High Priest all up in arms.

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Jesus was silent because it was not for this saying that He wanted to be convicted, but for being the Messiah. Isaiah 53:7 tells us that Jesus would be silent \"as sheep before her shearers is silent\". So Caiaphas comes out and openly asks Jesus THE question-are you the Messiah? He puts Him under oath (Lev 5:1) and so Jesus must answer, so he simply affirms Caiaphas\' own words.

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So Jesus lets it all out. Using prophecies for the Messiah contained in Psalm 110:1 and Daniel 7:13-14 He declared to Himself to be God, plain and simple. Blasphemy was punishable by death, but only if it was untrue.

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Next the Sanhedrin acted like common thugs. Like unstopping the bottle of pent up hatred, they start spitting at Him (the worst possible insult) and striking Him while blindfolded. This was apparently a test for who was the Messiah that comes out of Isaiah 11:2-4 which they interpreted to mean the Messiah would know what was going on without sight.

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Conclusions

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So why condemn Jesus?

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Jesus had to die alone (no one else could take His place)

Jesus had to bear our wrath and God\'s alone (the stone the builder\'s rejected)

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Those that put Jesus to death rejected Him as the Messiah and that\'s what it all comes down to-is He God or not? It\'s what eternity turns upon. The charges were not real but the hatred

certainly was.

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Jesus had to save us alone (no one else was capable)

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Our efforts to save ourselves are as comical as Peter wielding a sword!

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Romans 8:3-5 By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

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Quite simply, he was condemned so you wouldn\'t have to be.

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References:

http://www.biblestudy.org/basicart/twelve-reasons-why-arrest-conviction-of-jesus-was-illegal.html

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About the Mishna and the trial: http://www.oztorah.com/2010/03/the-trial-of-jesus/

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Translation of the Mishna Senhedrin: http://sacred-texts.com/jud/tsa/index.htm

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