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Legal aid and legal murder (2)

Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered…… Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build a house in three days.’ ” And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (XXX) Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” Then they spat in his face and punched him. And some slapped him, saying, “Declare to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?” Matthew 26: 57-68
 
Last week we thought about a kangaroo court in AD 30 Jerusalem, in the walled garden of the house of Caiaphas, the high priest - not the court room. The Sanhedrin – the real court authority was there but they weren’t in session. It’s past midnight on the day on which Jesus was crucified. He’s on trial.

Those who wish to get rid of Jesus – which means pretty well all those who are anybody – have found only two false witnesses. Intriguingly these two told the truth. But it was truth which was totally unacceptable to this kangaroo court. 

The false witnesses testified with these words, “This man said, ‘I have the power to throw down the temple of God, and to build a house in three days.’”  

 
The Temple was a religious building. The people were relying on the building and on being religious when inside it. The Romans destroyed it in AD 70. Jesus would rise from the grave after three days. He, as the house of the living God, would protect and save those who would come to him.

‘One Almighty is more than all mighties.’ (William Gurnall, Writer, 1616-1679) 
Is it possible that some Christians have gone in the same direction as the AD 30 Jerusalem people?  Is their Christianity confined to a church? Or to an institutional structure? Externals only? Not alive?

Caiaphas now stands up and addresses the captive Jesus. He’s the Jerusalem custodian of religious truth, and of legal justice, and of God’s righteousness. He says, “Have you no answer to make?" The gist of this is that the high priest wants Jesus, having heard what he is said to have said, there and then to deny it or confirm it. Jesus does neither.

He continues, “What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent, and the high priest then said to him, “I put you under oath by the living God, that you tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God!” So, the high priest, without the prisoner’s agreement, has placed the prisoner under oath to the living God – by his word alone. That done, he tells the prisoner to declare either that he is or that he is not the Messiah, the Son of God. 

Is this the real reason for setting up this kangaroo court? Is this the basis on which the prisoner must die – or be left to live? Can you sense the serious tension here? If Jesus is really the Messiah, he will have to say so and die. If he wants to live, he will have to say that he is not the Messiah. The kangaroo court wants him to continue to say that he is the Messiah so they can condemn him to death. What should Jesus say?

 
Jesus replies, “You have said it. Moreover,” he continued, “moreover I state to you, that from now on you will discern the Son of Man seated at the right of power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” What did he mean? 

‘Nothing whatever surprises God; all things that happen are absolutely certain from all eternity because they are all embraced in God’s eternal plan.’ (J Gresham Machen, University Professor, 1881-1937)
He’s confirmed that he’s indeed the Messiah the Son of God. He will now have his life taken from him. But what does his “moreover” mean? Is it that those who take his life will, from that day forward, discern that he by his death and resurrection is part and parcel of the power of heaven? Is it that those will now see that he comes to people with heavenly life – not to take life away?

At this, see (XXX) in bold above, the high priest tore his robes and all said, “He deserves death.” What do you think? Is the heavenly power of self-giving love strong enough to destroy death?


 
Sinner Syvret

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