Matthew 26:57-75 Part 5


 “And it shall come to pass, if you will hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord your God, to observe and to do all His Commandments which I command you this day, that the Lord your God will set you on high above all nations of the earth:  And all these blessings shall come on you and overtake you, if you shall hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God….”  (Deuteronomy 28:1,2)


“But it shall come to pass, if you will not hearken unto the voice of the Lord Your God, to observe to do all His Commandments and His statutes which I command you this day; that all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you….”  (Deuteronomy 28:15)


“Therefore brethren, we are debtors – not to the flesh to live according to the flesh.  For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”  (Romans 8:12-13)


“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ….”  (I Corinthians 10:3-5)


“Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but principalities, against powers, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having girded your waist with Truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints….”  (Ephesians 6:11-18)


“Continue in the things which you have learned and of which you’ve been assured, knowing from Whom you have learned them; and that from childhood you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work….”  (2 Timothy 3:14-17)


The Wisdom Literature of the Older Testament Scripture describes a world-view which perceives all things in terms of “cycle.”  The world rotates on an axis which is almost precisely the same as it was yesterday – and last year.  The sun rises, and then it sets.  And it rises again.  Clouds absorb water, and then release it again.  All is vanity.

The leaders of today are the slaves of tomorrow.  A present generation builds, a future one destroys.  What is a virtue today is a vice tomorrow – they exchange places with each other (and then they do it again – and again).  A man is born… and then he dies.  Nothing (or no one) is able to sustain life; and nothing is certain – there is only repetition!  It’s all vanity.

Thought and philosophy begin with thought and philosophy.  That’s the beginning point!  Later, it begins again.  The “wise” teach us “wisdom”; and tomorrow a “wiser” comes and destroys the “wisdom” of yesterday.  And life is a merry-go-round of futility.

In essence – nothing is known; yet all is seen as perfectly clear!  History explains history; life explains life; nature explains nature.  Volumes (and sets of volumes) written – the “meaning of life” is found – it’s found in life itself!  Nature is investigated in order to find the source and meaning of nature!  Life is probed and sectioned and observed and described – in order to find the nature of life!

And history simply repeats itself.  Radio waves are propelled into the universe to discover the “edge” and source and beginning – and meaning – of the universe!  It’s all so clear!  And the answers are right around the next corner… maybe in the next fact!  Maybe in the next life….  Maybe in the next “repetition.”

But all is vanity.  There is nothing new under the sun.

Man cannot “transcend” his condition.  The meaning of history cannot be discerned by probing into history; nature can’t be known by studying nature; life is an unknowable mystery should one begin with “life”; one cannot know the “beginning” and the meaning of the universe by searching the universe!  It’s all futile!

“Consider the work of God,” says the Preacher of Ecclesiastes, “for who can make straight that which He has made crooked?”  God, implies the great man, has made the world so that it can’t solve its own problems or unravel its own knots.

Man is lost in a creation, in a world, in a life, in which he sees everything clearly, and nothing truly; but in which he investigates everything under his own authority!  He perceives it all from his own perspective, and he can’t transcend his own perspective!  He posits the meaning of life because he lives; he plunges into the process of thought because he thinks.  He investigates nature because it’s absolutely clear to him that the meaning of nature is to be found in nature!  And he is his own authority.  But it is all only a circular, black hole; because if you begin with self, you end up with self!  That’s the message of the Preacher in Ecclesiastes.  And it’s futile… vanity!  There’s nothing new under the sun!

But, you see, there is an interpretation of it all.  While man (as a creature) thrashing around in his circular, repetitious universe, makes his authoritative pronouncements concerning being and reality and nature, God has spoken!

While man declares what is life and what is meaning and what is being, he does so outside the Truth… outside the pale of the Law… outside all Authority!  And it’s empty.  It’s void.  It’s “vanity.”

The Preacher saw the Throne-room/Temple/Judgment-seat of God; Moses was inside the Glory Cloud on Sinai; Ezekiel described it all precisely; John wrote His vision in the Revelation….

It is above the firmament… above nature, above the created universe, above reason.  There is no argument about Authority… or life being good or bad.  There is, simply, the Authoritative Word.  There is no discussion of whether man is the measure of good and evil – the Word which comes from the Judgment Seat is binding above all!

Nature and history and human reason and human impulse speak no absolute commands; there all things are relative, circular… … vain!  But the Glory-cloud/Throne-room/Judgment-seat of God above creation binds our hands and our feet; and it doesn’t ask whether we like it!

Nature can’t teach us to restrain ourselves from evil; what difference does your conduct make to nature?  There are no authoritative commands in history; what difference does your thought about history make to history?  There is nothing about human reason and human impulse that binds our conduct; what part of your human impulse is incriminating to your conduct?  There is no authority in subjective inclinations!  What’s good one day may not be good tomorrow!

We have no privileges in determining what is good and evil.  From His holy Temple God declares that which is.  There everything is revealed with Authority.  And that absolute Authority is binding for all, and for all times.

The Word was… from the beginning.  Logos.  He is the sole Proclaimer of Truth.  And what He says… is!  He spoke… and we are.  And without Him nothing was made that was made.  And bowing before His sovereign Authority is life itself.  “Fear God and keep His Commandments” is the solution to all, says the Preacher (echoing Moses… from whom we read earlier).

All else is circular… all else is vanity.  The meaning of nature can’t be determined by observing and studying nature; the meaning of life can’t be known by dissecting life; human reason and human impulse are not the arbiters of Truth!  Man cannot begin with self… he must begin at the beginning – with the Revelation of God!  “If you will hear and do all My Commandments… you will live.”

“And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”  (John one, verse fourteen)  And He was with God; and He was God.  And without Him nothing was made that was made.  (John chapter one)

But man, in his whole history – and by his whole nature, struggles to rid himself of this absolute Authority!  He is always in flight from the great pain of being under this Authority.

With all his reason; with all his human impulses; in every fiber of his being, he protests against that Authority; and he asserts his independence.  And he strikes blow after blow against binding Authority!  He deposes all other authority; he plagiarizes authority – he appropriates authority to himself!

He insists that he is self-sufficient and self-asserting; and that there are no boundaries and no limits and no absolutes other than his own.  In total denial of objective Truth, he religiously affirms that his own subjective appraisal is clear and competent!  Therefore he declares what is true of nature and of reason and of being and of life!  And he declares what is lawful and what is acceptable!

But the express image of God… the Fullness of the Revelation of God… the Authoritative Word of God culminates in the Christ!  As He stands at the fulcrum of history, the Glory-cloud/Throne-room/Temple of God is with men!  The Priority of all things; the One to Whom all things redound; the Beginning and the End; the One Who sits above the firmament and judges all things; THE WORD… the Absolute Authority is with men!

And as His history irrevocably progresses (in a straight line), there is one priestly family who stands at that same fulcrum of history.  That family represents the entire priestly history (fifteen hundred years), and it represents all of mankind in the usurpation of authority in the defiance of Authority.

In our text, Annas and all his sons, and now a son-in-law (Caiaphas), are really not special people!  They are not worse or better or “other” than the rest of mankind.  But in all of God’s created realm, and in all of eternity, they stand at that point (in this created thing called “time”) (that point) in which the “Fullness” of God’s Word was revealed!  The Christ!

And they represent all of mankind in its insolent appropriation of authority and its “trenchant” self-declarations of truth.  And, as I said, it was at that “fulcrum” of history in which the WORD of God was manifest among men!

And they did the only thing that was left to them.  In the void… in the emptiness… in the vanity of it all, autonomous man met the full Revelation of the Word!  And in the rage against ultimate, binding Authority they lashed out in the only way left to them!

Jesus had said, “If I have said anything other than Truth, state it openly!  If all that I have said is True, then why do you strike Me?!”

And they could find nothing other than Truth in Him.  They could not fault Him.  He was Truth in every way – the Blameless One.  Authority!  And all that was left for them to do was to attack Him physically, humiliate Him, and kill Him.

In ultimate lawlessness they slapped His face and covered Him with spittle and beat Him and struck Him again and again with rods and clubs; and they mocked Him.  Following their own impulses they sank to the lowest degree of vanity – emptiness.  “Humiliate Him; degrade Him; bruise Him; wound Him; and kill Him.  Cut the cords.  Destroy the Absolute.  Get rid of that which binds us Sovereignly.  We will not have this to rule over us.  We will be as God.”

This is the One Who made “nature” as He pleased.  This is the One Who is the Author of thought.  This is He Who called life and being into existence by the Word of His power.  This is the Originator of the Law – the Only One Who proclaims the Truth.  He is what Truth is!  He is Alpha and Omega – and all men exist because of Him.  He is their Sovereign Maker and their God!

And we are bound to Him irrevocably.  There is no escape from Him.  The Psalmist proclaims, “Wherever I go You are there….”  But we have all sunk to the lowest and emptiest and most vain means to escape that Sovereign Authority.  Therefore we are all implicated in His trial.

And this is a marvelous discovery.  It comes accompanied only with fear of God and obedience to His Word.  And here it is.  By nature we try with all our might to rid ourselves of His Sovereign Authority.  Every time we shun the blessed absolutes of His Word, we stand with Annas and Caiaphas and spit in His face and hurl insults at Him.  And He says, “If what I said isn’t the Truth, then you testify of it.”

Each time we flee from the pain of His most holy and Just Authority over us, we slap His cheeks and proclaim our own autonomy.

When we leave the absolutes of His Word and sink into the serenity of relativism and compromise, we cover His Head and mock His divinity.

Every hasty word… every foul temper… every lawless deed is a blow to His Head with the rod.

But we can’t cut the cord.  There’s no place to hide from Him.  Don’t be a hypocrite and proclaim your own autonomy – it doesn’t exist!  Don’t say you’re a believer and then live in lawlessness – you’re a liar and a hypocrite!  Don’t say you’re thinking clearly and then live in sin!  That’s hypocrisy; and it’s a provocative affront to God and His Sovereignty.  You cannot come out from under His absolute Authority!

Lawlessness is rebellion; and rebellion is rage against Him Who is your Authority!  You can’t hide; and you can’t escape.  There is no such thing as an autonomous man (one who answers only to himself).

The answer, according to the Preacher, is to fear God and submit to His Sovereign Authority.  Outside of that there is only vanity, emptiness, void.  A cycle of vicious repetition… where there is nothing new under the sun.


Our Lord Jesus was delivered up, and He gave Himself to suffering and humiliation and death in our stead.  For us!  Our response is not self-alienation and rebellion and lawlessness… but the Fear of God – which means to live in obedience to God in the full liberty of a child of God.

To “fear” God and obey Him is the essence of faith.  Faith isn’t a feeling, or a human impulse, or an assertion of the facts of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

Faith is a gift from God; and it is His peoples’ response to the life-giving Revelation of the Logos – the Word of God made flesh.  Our Sovereign Creator has provided Himself a substitute Sacrifice for our sin!  The Blameless One for the guilty and the unclean!

The Way, the Truth and the Life – the Authoritative One – Alpha and Omega – Life and Being, Beginning and End, Start and Finish, Originator and Judge, stands before depraved mankind represented by the priestly family to be judged!  The Creator is judged by the creature!  The One without Whom nothing was made that was made meets that point in His Own history where He is condemned, in space and time, by the representatives of depraved mankind… that point in time when autonomous man demonstrates for all of history that his ultimate desire is to be free of his sovereign Creator!

Here is the “insignia” of rebellion for all time and all mankind… to defame, to dishonor, to deface, to humiliate, to kill, to eternally destroy –  in other words to “cut the cords” –  forever from the One Who is their Creator, Authority and Judge.

And our Lord “set His Face toward Jerusalem” in order for them to do just that!  The Blameless One for the guilty and the unclean.  Our God’s faithfulness never fails us.  While the priestly family was representing all of autonomous mankind in its horrendous rage against God’s Authority, He was giving us the insignia (the Sign and Seal) of our incorporation into the Body of His Son, and the insignia of His shed blood.  And He “sealed” it to us that His promise is true.

That sign and seal is what we will celebrate next Lord’s Day in the Lord’s Table.  The Sign!  And the Seal that it is all true!

And as we receive the Sign – and the Seal that it is all true – we are no longer so insolent as to imagine all is vanity and empty and that there is nothing new under the sun.

For we have a Creator, Authority, Judge Who has brought being and life and Truth into existence.  And we will not rage against His Authority; but we will faithfully obey and thankfully enjoy that all is new (not cyclic and circular)!  And it all has meaning!  And we have life – and that abundantly!