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Arrested Development

Matthew 26:47-56

In the passage that was read Jesus is arrested and will be put on trial.
• And even though this trial took place over 1900 years ago, in a sense, Jesus is still put on trial today in many places by many different people.
• And many people are still willing to make a case against Jesus.

The question that we will be faced with this morning is, “What do you say about Jesus?”
• Will you defend Him to be who He claimed to be?
• Will you stand and say that He is worthy of all that those claims make Him worthy of?
• Or, when the pressure is on, will you deny who He is?

Let’s study starting in verse 47.

In verses 47-56 we read about Jesus’ arrest.
• And because we have read it so many times we don’t think too much about what took place.
• But let me tell you, this was an ugly scene.
• Keep in mind that this takes place late at night.
• And this mob doesn’t come all nice and polite, worried about Jesus’ civil rights.
• They come with swords and clubs…with anger and hatred.
• And there was probably some cursing…and threatening.
• This mob comes prepared to strike.

And you can imagine the fear and the threat that the disciples felt.
• They knew that threats had been made against Jesus’ life.
• And they also knew that, because of their close relationship to Him, they too were in danger.
• So they probably bristled some too.
• And besides, they had just before this sworn that they would “die themselves before they would deny Jesus.”
• This was a very scary scene.

And then Judas comes forward and He signals to the mob which one they were after by kissing Jesus.
• And it was not just any old ordinary kiss.
• The term used here is that of a “passionate, intense, emotional embrace.”

And when he does that verse 50 says that the mob, “laid hands on Him, and seized Him.”
• And for one of the disciples, that was the wrong thing to do.

They seize Jesus and in verse 51 and John 19:10 Peter jerks out his sword and he swings at the face of one of the high priest’s slave with every intention of ending his life.
• And an ear falls to the ground.

Had Jesus not picked it up and placed it back on the head of the man who was injured and healed him, there very likely would have been 4 crosses the next day at Calvary.
Look what Jesus says in verse 55: “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me, as against a robber? Every day I used to sit in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me.”

This scene in the middle of the night was so unnecessary.
• They could have arrested Him at any time.
• Why are they doing it now?

Because they are afraid of the people.
• Many of the people esteemed Christ.
• They may not have believed He was the Messiah but they did think He was a prophet.
• And these members of this mob knew that.
• And the best time to arrest Jesus to prevent an uproar from the people was in the middle of the night.

So they arrest Jesus, but I want you to notice the very end of verse 56. Jesus says: “But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.”
• One more time Jesus exposes the hearts of these men.
• He says, “What is happening here is a fulfillment of scripture?”
• They could check it out and see if it was not so.
• And if it was so, then they would know that He was truly the One God said would come.
• But they aren’t interested in the truth.
• All they want to do is get rid of Jesus.

This was an ugly, frightening scene.

In verses 57-68 you read about the trial…that is if you can call it a trial.
• Keep in mind that it is in the middle of the night.
• And if you will notice in verse 59 that the “Council” or the “Sanhedrin” is there.
• The Sanhedrin was the Jew’s highest court…it would be like our Supreme Court.
• It consisted of 71of the most powerful, educated men in Israel and they were the ultimate authority when it came to Jewish Law.

And they want to condemn Jesus so badly that in verse 59 they bring in witnesses to lie.
• But if you look at what Mark says in Mark 14:56, the witnesses testimony didn’t condemn Jesus because their testimony wasn’t consistent…it was conflicting….and no one can be found guilty on conflicting testimony.

And so in verse 62 the high priest stands up and he begins to question Jesus.
• And after hearing what Jesus says the high priest in vs. 65 accuses Jesus of blasphemy.
• And then the court condemns him to death.

And look at verse 67.
Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him, 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, You Christ; who is the one who hit You?”

This whole trial was a sham! This was a Kangaroo Court.
• This whole thing took place because this Jewish court didn’t have the right to condemn Jesus to death….only the Roman court could do that.
• But these men are determined to see Jesus punished…they are desperately trying to come up with some charge that they can take to the Romans so that the Romans will execute Jesus.
• And what they do here is a mockery to their own judicial system.

First of all, according to Jewish law, the arrest was illegal.
• According to their own law you could not arrest anyone at night.
• Secondly, the arrest is illegal because it was brought about by the word of a traitor…and you could not arrest on that basis.
• Third, the court proceedings themselves, this hearing before the Sanhedrin was illegal because a trial could not take place at night….it could not take place before the morning sacrifice.
• It was also illegal to have a preliminary hearing in private. Any kind of hearing like this had to be public.
• It was against the law for the high priest to question the witness. The high priest was not allowed to directly question the witness.
• Conflicting testimony is being accepted.
• The witness himself is condemned based on his own testimony…that was against the law.
• He was charged with blasphemy…and even though the charge was serious…under Jewish law that charge was not specific enough to condemn Him.
• Once the accused is found guilty, 24 hours had to pass before sentencing could occur. They passed sentence immediately.
• The Judges were not polled individually for their verdicts. They were supposed to ask each one individually what his verdict was.
• And under Jewish law, any verdict that was unanimous was considered invalid because they said that a unanimous verdict was clearly the action of a mob or the result of emotional fervor.

You see, this whole thing was a sham.
• Every thing they do here is done intentionally to find some kind of charge they can take to the Romans to hopefully have Jesus crucified.

But there is something here about Jesus I want you to notice.
• They bring in these false witnesses to accuse him…but that doesn’t work very well.
• So in verse 62 the high priest stands…and he comes forward to Jesus and he says, “What about all these charges? Are you not going to answer?”
• And Jesus stays silent….He doesn’t say anything.

But they have got to find something to justify their actions against Jesus….so the high priest presses Jesus in verse 63, “I adjure You (appeal to, command) by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.”
• Now look at this!
• All through the gospel of Matthew, Jesus has been hesitant to announce and reveal his identity.
• It has not been His practice to tell people this.
• When people did tell Him that He was the Son of God…He would tell them not to tell anyone.
• So it has been Jesus’ practice not to acknowledge who He is.

And now, if there was ever a time to keep silent, this is it!
• If He will just stand there and keep quiet, they will have no grounds to approach Pilate and the case will be thrown out.

But guess what?
• The one time when it is the most dangerous.
• When it is prudent not to speak.
• Jesus says, “You have said it yourself;” “Or, “It is as you say.”
• In other words, He is saying, “I am the Christ, the Son of God.”

And look what he says in verse 64: “I tell you, hereafter you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
• That is not a confession. That is a warning!
• Because anyone who comes on the clouds comes to judge.
• And what Jesus is saying to this high priest and the rest of the court is, “You try me today but I promise you, the day will come when you will see me on the bench. And you will be before the bar, and I will be the judge, and I will pass irrevocable judgment on you.”

The high priest knew he got the answer he wanted.
• And he said, “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you say?”
• And they all condemned Him to die.

And they beat Jesus with their fists, and slapped Him, and tell Him to prophesy….and they don’t even realize that as they do so, they themselves are fulfilling prophesy.

Now, let me give you 3 lessons from this story.
1. In the midst of all of this Jesus stands alone.
• Back in vs. 56, Matthew says “All the disciples left Him and fled.”
• Jesus was totally abandoned by people who earlier pledged to never deny Him.

And the point is, when you follow Christ, you too may find yourself at times, standing all alone.
• You may find yourself at some time being the only one standing up for Christ…standing up for what is right.

Jesus stands alone and His courage and His conviction does not rest on others.
• His courage and His conviction came from inside.

And if we are going to stand alone…we must do the same….we must develop a faith of our own that gives us the courage and conviction to withstand any and all charges that people might make against us because we follow Jesus.

2. Jesus told the truth.
• When the high priest asked him, “Are you the Son of God?”, what did He say? “You have said it yourself.”
• He tells the truth.
• He is not ashamed of the truth…He is not afraid of the truth.
• He doesn’t back off from the truth…
• He knows they want to kill Him…He knows that they will ridicule Him and mock Him…and still He tells the truth.

Jesus told the truth and the question is, “Will you?”
• And you may think that is a strange question…but the fact of the matter is, many people don’t tell the truth about Christ and the things He says.
• They are afraid of what people think…and what people might say….and what people might do.
• Or they are afraid of what that truth might mean to them.
• It might cause them to have to do some things differently…or not do some things they are doing.

Will you tell the truth about Christ? Regardless of how painful it might be?
• Here in this passage these men didn’t…and because they denied the truth the truth destroyed the One who told the truth.
• But the irony is, in the long run, He was raised up because He told the truth.
• And they were judged by the very truth that they denied.
• You can deny the truth…ignore it…or reject it….but be sure you cannot escape its judgment.

3. You stand on one side or the other…there is no middle ground.
• You either stand with Caiaphas or Christ.
• Line up your life with Christ…or deny him and do something else with it.

You see, that is why this story is here: For you to ask “where do I stand?”
• Are you defending Christ…or are you by your life and lip denying Him.

Two things about your verdict:
• To deny Him is to face his judgment.
• That is what Jesus told the Sanhedrin that night.
• That He is going to come back as judge.
• And when He comes there will not be many questions.
• There will be just one. And that one question will be “What did you do with Jesus of Nazareth?”
• And Jesus gives the answer in John 8: 24, “If you do not believe that I am the one that I claim to be you will indeed die in your sins.”

You see, Jesus is no longer on trial, but we are.
• To deny Him is to face His judgment.
• To defend Him and to follow Him is to accept his sentence.

Don’t miss Matthews point.
• Jesus had a lot of chances to declare his Messiah-ship.
• Chances that would have brought him fame, applause, masses and masses of fans, and He never spoke up.
• But when He had a chance to speak up and it brought him a cross, you could not keep Him quiet.
• And the point is obvious.
• If you are going to speak up for and follow Jesus Christ, don’t do it thinking you are going to get popular.
• Don’t do it thinking you are going to get applause or a big following.
• You better do it knowing that the people who speak up for Jesus might get the same sentence He got.

It might mean a cross for you too.

And so what will you do? Will you stand up with Him or will you flee.
This morning, you are on trial…He is watching you…what will your answer be?