Religious Rejection of Jesus’ Authority
Good Friday: “Day of Anguish”
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Matthew 26:62-63 (AMP)
The high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Have You no answer to give? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” 63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I call on You to swear a binding oath by the living God, that you tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.”
In the Scriptural text leading up to the subject passage above, the reader will see in verse 57 that Jesus is standing before Caiaphas (Jewish High Priest) and the Sanhedrin (Jewish High Court) for an illegal court hearing:
Matthew 26:57 (AMP)
Those who had seized Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the scribes and the elders (Sanhedrin, Jewish High Court) had gathered [[a]illegally] together.
[a] It was unlawful for a criminal court proceeding to be held at night. Further, although the Sanhedrin (Jewish High Court) was granted substantial power to act by the Roman government, the Sanhedrin could not impose the death penalty on a criminal. Court cases requesting a death penalty to be imposed by the Roman government were to be held publicly in the temple. The officials of the Sanhedrin waited until morning to announce their verdict, perhaps in a token attempt to legalize their unlawful gathering.
So, the Jewish officials, these religious leaders of the Jewish people are conducting an illegal court proceeding to try Jesus as a criminal… not JUST a criminal, but a criminal worthy of death:
Matthew 26:59-60 (AMP)
Now the chief priests and the whole Council (Sanhedrin, Jewish High Court) tried to get false witnesses to testify against Jesus, so that they might [have a reason to] put Him to death. 60 They found none, even though many false witnesses came forward…
When holding an illegal court proceeding, why not bring in false witnesses to provide convenient lies, as well? Unfortunately (for the Sanhedrin), the lying witnesses could not even keep their lies straight (Mark 14:56). However, these Jewish leaders were determined to find fault with Jesus. They needed sufficient evidence of wrongdoing to submit Jesus’ crimes as worthy of a death penalty. So, the High Priest finally asks Jesus a direct question regarding His divinity:
Matthew 26:63 (AMP)
…the high priest said to Him, “I call on You to swear a binding oath by the living God, that you tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.”
When Christ verbally affirms that yes, He is indeed the Son of God, the reaction is very telling:
Matthew 26:65 (AMP)
Then the high priest tore his robes [in mock horror] and exclaimed, “He has blasphemed [by making Himself God’s equal]! What further need have we of witnesses or evidence? See, you have now heard the blasphemy.
It is extremely apparent that this “High Priest” had no interest in actually determining the truth. For if this priest wanted the truth, he could have simply sought God for an answer. You will be hard pressed to find anywhere in Scripture, though, where these leaders EVER went to God to find out if Jesus was for real.
The real crux of the situation is that, just like the subject matter of the message Pastor Sweeney gave this past Sunday, these leaders DID NOT want the truth. Though they represented a religion that spoke of a Messiah to come, these men did not actually want the Messiah to come “on their watch”. Why? Well, the Messiah would obviously be more powerful than they were. These men thoroughly enjoyed their positions of power and did not wish to relinquish power to ANYONE… even God, Himself. THAT is what pride can do to a person’s heart. Pride eats away at the moral makeup of one’s being and causes them to be blind to anything and anyone other than themselves.
Bringing this forward to today… there are some religious leaders who participate in the practice of wearing a white collar or a necklace or other religious items to publicly declare their religious status and station. To be clear, I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH THAT. However, my question is this… when donning the religious paraphernalia, what is motivation of the heart? Is it to be seen as a beacon of light (similar to a lighthouse) to be seen by those who are in trouble and need of help? Or is it to be a status symbol to show power and authority and an element of “holiness”? Is your mission as a religious leader, or even as a lay Christian, to lead the lost to Christ or to be seen as a person of means and influence? When God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, shows up in your environment, would you welcome Him and allow Him to take control? Or would you try to bring the focus back to you and your agenda of the moment?
Don’t allow yourself to be blind to God’s presence and what He is trying to do through you at any given moment.
Don’t steal God’s glory!