Matthew 26:57-75 Part 2


We had progressed in the text up to verse sixty-three last Lord’s Day; and, as the text says, our Lord’s trial is at hand.

Now, you all know from experience how much I love to make comparisons and contrasts.  On occasion it is very effective to compare and contrast a unique Biblical event with one that has some similarities to it… but is more contemporary.

In this way I can emphasize the uniqueness of the most infamous trial in the history of the world.  After all, this is the Gospel of God which is the Power of God into salvation for those who are faithing.  We need to know all that to which God the Father subjected His Son, and why.  We need to know, in detail, who did what, and why.

Nobody seems to know very much about it.  Even though it is of infinite – even eternal – importance, nobody knows much about it.

As we compare two trials here, everybody over twenty-five knows just about everything there is to know about (what is now called) the trial of the century; but “The Trial of the Ages” is nearly unknown.

Never mind that the gross national product decreased significantly as most of the nation was held in rapt attention while a famous football player was tried on television for the murder of his wife.  What’s important here is that one trial has eternal significance for the world, and the other was relatively insignificant (that’s the trial of the football player, if you hadn’t guessed).

The one that has ultimate value for the salvation of the world was carried on in secret in the middle of the night, and broke every judicial law in God’s Law-word.  (That’s the one that hardly anyone knows anything about and doesn’t seem to care.)

The other one was held in the light of day with fifty million witnesses all emotionally engrossed in the process.  And, the procedure of the trial, and the outcome, were more judicially Biblical… even though the parties involved had no earthly idea what it means to be “BC” (that’s “Biblically Correct”).

Here in our text, as our Lord stands in bonds before Caiaphas, the chief priest of Israel and president of the Sanhedrin, there are some striking dissimilarities… not necessarily in the conduct of the trial, but especially in the circumstances of the parties.

I don’t wish to belabor the issues with regard to the more contemporary trial… that’s not our purpose here (and there have been enough doing that); but my desire is to cause the circumstances and conditions under which Jesus Christ was tried and executed to be clearly understood.  It is the concept of His guiltlessness which must be manifest – it must be clear in our minds… rising to the surface from the text of Matthew’s Gospel!

For, unless we grasp that concept – the guiltlessness and perfections of the Son of God – then we will have missed the glory and majesty of the trial and crucifixion and resurrection of Messiah!  And should that be the case, there is no hope of salvation and eternity.

So, now, what is it that we might gain from the modern-day trial (especially from an examination of the “defense” of an accused man)?  I want us to concentrate, just for a brief time, on the overall strategy of the defense team for the football player.

And the first point is that there was a defense team – six or seven of the best attorneys money could buy, and a capable staff from each of their offices.  And they were able to “stack” the jury with the football player’s peers; and they brought forth witness after witness for Mr. Simpson’s benefit.

But at the “trial of the ages”, Jesus had no advocate!  There was no one there to see to His rights; and there were no witnesses called to testify on His behalf!  He stood there alone, before a judicial body which, to a man, was predisposed to His guilt; and He had been abandoned by every witness who could speak to His innocence.  Even God the Father, the Supreme Judge, had abandoned Him!  And He stood here before the chief magistrate of Israel in bonds, being under no legal indictment!

In the trial of the century, Mr. Simpson’s attorneys had one purpose in mind… to free their client from the judgment of the law.  And they purposed to do that by any means open to them.  And they lied about the truth; they convoluted the law; they harassed, confused and intimidated the judge; they muddied the issues; and they manipulated the “baser” human instincts of their “pre-chosen” jury!

And what they purposed to do, they did.  And knowing very well that there is, among people of color, the concept of an all-pervasive “white” conspiracy to subjugate or even eliminate all “black” people, they excited the fervor of defiance… not only in the jurors, but all over America.

They won the day for their client; but the “collateral” effects may be more long-lasting and devastating to the nation than anything they may have foreseen.

But all that aside, I want to get to the parties themselves and the dissimilarities in their circumstances.  Amidst a Bible-quoting, God-praising, prayer-offering atmosphere, (family and attorneys) there is the depraved life-style of O.J. Simpson and all those around him.  The evidence of sin and evil and uncleanness is to be found everywhere:  divorce… the ripping apart of two marriages (and children in each) (confusion); constant illicit, extramarital sexual activity by both parties; reported drug use – especially cocaine; a licentious, riotous life-style with no constraints; multiple physical abuse by a husband jealous of his wife’s erotic behavior with other men; a man with a sultry seductress on the side (who, by the way, claimed to be a Christian!).

This is a lifestyle of living death.  And it all issued forth in carnage!  And the evangelical pretense surrounding the family and the trial and the attorneys and the people on the periphery is nothing short of hypocrisy of the worst kind… surpassed only by that of the Sanhedrin at the trial of Jesus our Lord.

Now, there may have been jubilation all over this country that a black man had beaten the police and the conspiratorial white European legal system; but remember just before the flood everyone was doing what was right in his own eyes.  And just before Israel was defeated and led into captivity, everyone was calling good evil and evil good.  God won’t be mocked; and He won’t suffer His Law-word to be held in disdain – especially since His Messiah has come and the Word has been preached and a new covenant/new Kingdom age has been ushered in!  If He is consistent with His prior behavior, His patience must be wearing thin; and there will be consequences.  There already are consequences.

But.  Look how dissimilar is our Lord Jesus Christ at His trial!  Not depraved and under the curse (as we are), but born of the virgin by the work of the Spirit, Jesus kept the Law and perfectly pleased the Father; The Word of God Incarnate… therefore He could not be faulted by men; He had broken no Law and had harmed no one… therefore no true witness could be brought against Him; having searched, the Sanhedrin could not find testimony which could be used to indict Him – even at a secret trial at night, and even with all of their own people there (a stacked jury if ever there was one!).

And (at verse sixty-three) the chief priest is forced to abandon the search for testimony that could be used against Him.  And with the potential for terrible embarrassment (the stated goal being to eliminate this Man; and having awakened the entire Sanhedrin in the middle of the night for a secret night-time trial, and with the possibility of losing this case), Caiaphas, with deep hatred for this Man Jesus, now desperately changes his entire strategy!

And since there was no fifth amendment in the Law by which a man, put under oath, could refuse to speak about this condition and his predicament, Jesus is now bound by Law to speak; because Caiaphas puts Him under oath (to the Living God) that He must say whether He is the Christ, the Son of God!

So the subterfuge is gone; the hypocritical attempt to find testimony which might be reinterpreted by the Sanhedrin is gone; and Caiaphas now cuts to the real issue – does this embarrassing Galilean carpenter’s son from Nazareth (of all places) with the huge, intimidating crowd following Him, and with practiced skills in the eastern magical arts (so it seemed to them)… does He claim to be Israel’s Messiah – the Anointed Son of God?  (That’s what “Christ” means – The Anointed!)

This Man had come upon the scene only in the last three years (having not been examined and brought forth by the Sanhedrin!) with thousands following Him… Who claimed that He had healed them of their blindness and deafness and brokenness, and Who had cast out demons and freed them from their bondage; and He had come into the temple and cast out the profit-making money exchange tables and the revolving “bird-sacrificing business”.

At a time of great political unrest (under Roman government), deep party splits, and international attention (the Passover), this Man Jesus had caused great concern – especially since His vast following was, upon His entrance to the city, singing Psalms having to do with the Messianic appearance!

Over a period of time the Sanhedrin had sent delegation after delegation to observe Him and to discredit Him publicly.  And now even in the temple itself Jesus had humiliated the “best” pharisee minds as they desperately sought to expose Him and to disperse the “rabble” who had fallen in behind Him!

So now the only way to avoid the terrible (perceived) consequences of letting this Man do His thing was to eliminate Him.  And, guided by guile and anger and hatred, and stymied from pursuing his initial strategy, Caiaphas now puts Jesus under oath to publicly state whether He is Messiah.

So under oath to speak, Jesus speaks the Truth: 


“Zu eipas” (You said). 

“However I say to you henceforth you shall see the Son of Man sitting from Right of the Majesty and coming upon the clouds of heaven.” (verse sixty-four)


“You said” is an answer, under oath, in the affirmative.  He is affirming that what Caiaphas just said was true.  But, you see, Caiaphas didn’t raise the issue of Jesus being the Messiah in the sense that he thought it was true… he raised it in the sense that it would be audacious and insolent blasphemy!  Therefore when Jesus said “Zu Eipas” (you said), He rubbed salt in the open wounds of Caiaphas’ hypocrisy!

And then Jesus uses a word which must be translated as an adversative:  “However….”  In other words, “Even though you said it, henceforth you shall see it!”  “You, Caiaphas, said what is true; now you (plural) shall see that it is indeed what is true!”

“To see” is used here in the sense that it will happen right before your very eyes!  (Even if you don’t assimilate it; even if you don’t understand it; even though you never will receive the Truth of it, you shall see it!)  The prophetic Word concerning the Messiah (from Psalm one hundred ten and Daniel seven) has to do with Jesus assuming His rightful position at the right of Almighty Power (that’s the Psalm one hundred ten passage) and His “Erxomenas” – The Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven (the Daniel seven passage) – a figure which always has to do with the Throne-room/Judgment-seat of God!

These are the same passages that Jesus has quoted previously with regard to the prophecy of His Messiahship (see Matthew twenty-four, for example); and in no case have they lent themselves to “end time” interpretations.  (And neither does this one, as much as many would like for it to).  Because Jesus speaks directly to Caiaphas and the rest of the Sanhedrin (you, plural), and says, “henceforth you shall see…”  “From this point it will all happen before your very eyes….”  (not two thousand years from now… you shall see it!)

The Dominion of Christ the King at the Right of God the Father; the preaching of the Gospel and the establishment of the Mighty Church of Christ in all the Gentile nations; the “tongues” of the Gentiles and the healing miracles of the apostles of Christ; the awful abandonment and demonization of Jerusalem and Israel; the “abomination of desolation” Roman army in the slaughter/judgment of the nation and the city; the termination of the entire old covenantal relationship with this nation, and the “dawning” of a New Day and a New Humanity in the New Covenant!

And the descriptive name “the Son of Man” is the nomenclature used by Jesus to signify all of that (as we’ve heard before, it comes directly out of Daniel chapter seven).

As we began working our way through the Acts of the apostles, this Theology came forth in a flood of information concerning the “Parousia” of our Lord – not only His “transcendence” at the Right of Power, but also His “immanence” – as the Spirit “proceeds” from the Father and the Son to implement the Kingdom on earth.

But having heard these things (as Matthew writes in verse sixty-five), the chief priest rent his garment!  Now, no doubt he was decked out in some kind of high priestly regalia.  Even though the official robe of the chief priest was set aside for the high, holy days and the annual ceremonies, in this case there would have been the desire to wear the emblems of his rank and position.  A priestly garment was the insignia of anointed authority from God and a means of intimidation.

But he tore it!  This isn’t an act of tearing off the robe and stripping it in pieces… what’s done is to grab the upper portion of the garment with both hands and to jerk downward, exposing the chest.

But this word isn’t the normal word for rending a garment; this one is specifically used by the translators of the Septuagint in the second and third verses of Psalm two.  And in that place the rulers of the earth counsel together against the Anointed One of God about tearing away the cords and bonds (it has to do with tearing one’s self away from sovereign control of God!).  And it says that that is vain raging that God laughs at.

So there is a specific connection here, in the language that Matthew uses, to the raging of rulers against God’s messiah in Psalm two.

And that’s exactly what Caiaphas was doing.  It’s a hypocritical performance, with melodrama and histrionic, as the chief priest intends to sweep the entire Sanhedrin along with him as he yells “He blasphemed!”  He “feigned” shock at Jesus’ statement; and as his passion and rage burst forth in accusation, all the legal requirements for convictions and execution being abrogated; and he plays it right out to the end….

“What further necessity do we have for witnesses; lo, just now you heard the blasphemy!  What pleases you?”  In other words “… Trial is over; what’s your verdict?”  Blasphemy is a death penalty offense; this Man uttered blasphemy; we don’t need witnesses because we heard Him say it!  That’s the case!  What’s your pleasure?

Matthew’s language in verse sixty-six indicates the Sanhedrin continuing the charade of pretense by spending a moment in consultation and securing the answer.  Then they all said, “He is liable for death!”

Now, the Jewish legal system, for the obvious reason of safeguards, required all verdicts in capital crimes be rendered at another session of court on another day.  The court would meet again the next day, or another day, and each member of the Sanhedrin would vote in writing; and the ballots would be taken up, separated out, and one would count the guilty votes and another those for acquittal.

But in this case all the requirements established – all the fixed procedures and formalities in the interest of justice – are summarily overthrown… all this, and not a voice raised in protest!

The hatred and passion of Caiaphas toward Jesus seemed to animate every member of the court; and the immediate “vive voce” (voice vote) was unanimous.  No waiting; no court session tomorrow; no written ballots; no refection on the execution of a man; no careful consideration of what they were doing; there was only the stink of loathing and bitter hatred – toward the Christ, the Son of God.

And what follows here is an outrage so beastly and animalistic and so brutal and sadistic as to seem almost incredible.  Our Lord was now to suffer the most ignominious and humiliating treatment imaginable at the hands of the highest magistrates in Israel – men in whom the justice and dignity and greatness and honor of this nation were to be vested.

However our time is up for now.  The next time we meet we will spend the time required on Jesus’ humiliation, and then complete our look at the text itself through the end of the chapter.