Guilty of being God

Posted: May 19, 2013 in Matthew

Matthew 26:57-75, “Guilty of being God”

Have you ever looked at a situation and wondered, “What in the world is going on here?”  No doubt from the outside looking in, that’s what the Sanhedrin’s trial of Jesus would have appeared to be.  After all, GOD is on trial.  And not only is God on trial, He is under accusation by the very people who claim to serve Him and be His own special people upon the earth.  Everything is turned upside down, and isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.  Even when we acknowledge that the Jewish leadership did not recognize Jesus to be their God and Messiah, the people who actually do believe in Jesus still abandoned Him, with His most faithful follower vehemently denying that he even knows Jesus.  What’s going on here?  Everything is crazy!

Actually, everything is NOT crazy, though it was filled with sin.  Human nature was beginning to show the worst of its sinful inclinations against God, yet not a single thing was spinning out of control.  The Scriptures had perfectly predicted the events of this night, and God knew exactly what was going on.

Now Jesus is on trial.  This is the first of several kangaroo courts that He will endure, but it is an important rejection because it comes from the Jews.  The Messiah was first sent to the Jews, and He was first rejected by the Jews.  And of course it was this rejection that put in motion the events that would lead to the cross (and ultimately to our salvation).  What we see going on in all of this are several conflicts of purpose.  From the outset, the Sanhedrin had purposed to kill Jesus, and nothing was going to stand in their way.  Contrary to Peter’s best intentions, Peter purposed to stand on the sidelines, and he got caught up in a terrible spiritual battle and failed (exactly as Jesus said that he would).  As for Jesus – Jesus purposed to glorify God and submit Himself to the will of God the Father, and that is exactly what He did.  In the process, the innocent Son of God was found guilty of the only so-called crime He ever committed: being God.

Matthew 26:57–75
57 And those who had laid hold of Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. 58 But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest’s courtyard. And he went in and sat with the servants to see the end.

  1. When we begin to compare the history here between the various gospel accounts, there immediately seems to be a problem when we come to John’s gospel.  John tells us they led Jesus to Annas (Jn 18:13); Matthew tells us it was Caiaphas. Which was it, and which gospel writer is wrong?  Actually both statements are accurate, though the confusion is understandable.  Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, and both had the title of high priest.  Annas was the older high priest, and although the position had been passed along to Caiaphas, the title stayed with a priest until the day he died.  (Much like we call our former presidents, “President So & So.”)  As to when Jesus was taken to whom, John actually clears it up as he tells us that Jesus was taken to Annas first, and then Annas sent Jesus bound to Caiaphas (Jn 18:24).  Annas seemed to ask different questions than Caiaphas, asking about Jesus’ doctrine, whereas Caiaphas is more interested in finding a criminal conviction against Jesus.  The only real issue between John’s and Matthew’s accounts is that they record different events.
    1. As with all things, we need to give the Bible the benefit of the doubt.  Of all of the things in the life of Jesus, the event that skeptics try to cast the most doubt about are the events surrounding Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection.  After all, if someone can’t believe what the Bible says about that, they can’t believe anything else the Bible says about Jesus.  If Jesus isn’t truly the Son of God, crucified for sin & risen from the grave, then anything else we believe about Him is in vain.  It’s no wonder skeptics attack the passion week of Jesus!  Yet for all of the attacks, there is always an answer.  The arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus is the most verifiable event in ancient history, and a careful study bears up under the most intense scrutiny every time.  When in doubt, believe the Bible.  It has proven to be true in abundance!
  2. Who was there?  Everyone.  The Sanhedrin: the leadership of the Jewish council, comprised of the priests, scribes, and elders.  This was a representation of the Jewish nation as a whole.  (BTW – how can we label this as the “Sanhedrin” when Matthew doesn’t use the term?  Actually Matthew does use it; that’s the Greek word translated as “council” in vs. 55.) It’s not likely that every single member of the council was present (re: Joseph of Arimathea), but Caiaphas probably assembled as many as he could gather in the middle of the night to rush into judgment against Jesus.  The trial-by-night was itself illegal, but it was done, nonetheless.
  3. Who else was there?  Peter.  The other disciples had fled, but Peter seemingly doubled back after the initial arrest and followed Jesus to the house of the high priest.  Apparently, another unnamed disciple was present as well (perhaps John).  This disciple was known by the high priest, and was the only reason Peter was allowed into the courtyard where he waited and watched (Jn 18:16).  After the fiasco in the garden, it’s remarkable that Peter was there at all, but Matthew points out something important here: Peter followed “at a distance.”  Peter is certainly curious as to what is going to happen (“the end”), but he seems to be careful not to follow Jesus too closely at this point.
    1. When someone who claims to follow Christ starts to try to keep Jesus at arms’-length, there is already a problem.  Peter might seem at first to show a bit of courage, just by showing up – but inwardly, he’s already setting himself up for a fall. 

59 Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, 60 but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. …

  1. A “kangaroo court” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted.”  If it had a picture next to the definition, it should be a depiction of the Sanhedrin’s trial of Jesus.  No doubt the righteous law of God was perverted in a twisted attempt to try to find liars that would condemn Jesus to death.  Notice a couple of things that they did here: (1) They started out with a pre-determined outcome of what they wanted to do.  They weren’t looking for the truth; they were looking for blood.  They specifically wanted Jesus to be put to death, and they were only looking for a legal pretense under which to do it.  (2) They were relying upon liars to substantiate their claim against Jesus.  Again – they had no interest in truth; they were specifically interested in liars.
  2. Think about each of those aspects on a more practical level.  People still put Jesus on trial today.  (1) They begin with a pre-determined outcome of what they’re looking for.  Jesus (in their mind) has to be false.  They don’t want to acknowledge Jesus to be the Lord God, because they want to be justified in their own sin.  If Jesus is indeed who Jesus claims to be, then that means our lives need to change!  We cannot knowingly continue sinning against God if we truly believe Jesus to be the Lord.  If Jesus is the Lord, that means we’re going to have to face God for judgment, and we will either be found in Christ & have our sins forgiven – or we are going to be found in rebellion against Christ, and we will suffer eternal punishment.  People tend not to like that idea, so they put Jesus on trial, supposedly demanding answers from Almighty God before they decide to give their allegiance to Jesus.  The problem is, that is exactly what they don’t want to do.  They don’t WANT Jesus to be the Lord, so they are looking for a reason to reject Jesus as the Lord.  And they do the same thing as the ancient Jewish council. (2) They base their skepticism on lies and liars.  There will always be people willing to lie about Jesus, and otherwise mislead people concerning the truth of the Bible.  They will quote Scripture out of context – they will twist words to make them mean things they do not – they will take righteous commands of God out of their historical & cultural context to make God look like a monster, etc.  Keep in mind that Christianity has been around for 2000 years.  There has not been a single objection raised against Jesus and the Bible that has not been thoroughly thought through and answered at some point in time.  Yet so many people today think they can throw out a flippant answer & think they’ve trumped the Bible in a couple of minutes.  Yet they haven’t done anything except recite the dishonest objection already raised by someone who knew better in the past.  There have always been dishonest liars about Jesus – the most famous of which is Satan!  The tactics people use against Christianity today are nothing that the Devil has not already used in either his temptation against Adam and Eve, or his temptation against Jesus in the wilderness.
    1. In both examples, these pseudo-skeptics are not interested in the truth.  If they were sincerely interested in truth, then they would be willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads.  To look at the evidence surrounding Jesus’ person, crucifixion, and resurrection honestly, there is only one place it CAN lead: Christ.
  3. In the case of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council had a big problem.  Even as they were looking for lying liars to condemn Jesus to death, they couldn’t find any.  Actually, if we were going to take the full Biblical account into consideration, it’s not that they couldn’t find anyone low enough to tell lies about Jesus (there sadly seemed to be plenty of those!); it’s that none of these liars could agree with one another enough to put together a legal conviction.  Jewish law was clear that only on the basis of two agreeing witnesses was it possible to condemn a person to death (Deut 17:6).  Ironically, in all of their twisting of the law to try to falsely convict Jesus, the Sanhedrin was still bound by the law in how they went about doing it.  As a result, even then they couldn’t sentence Jesus to death.  He was too innocent.  Even as people tried to lie about Him, they couldn’t do so in a way that would bring condemnation.
    1. Jesus is completely sinless!

…But at last two false witnesses came forward 61 and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’ ”

  1. Finally they find a charge that seems like it will stick – but even here, it doesn’t fit the legal requirements.  Matthew alludes to it by labeling these guys as “false witnesses,” and Mark puts it even more plainly when he writes, “But not even then did their testimony agree.” (Mk 14:59)  Apparently these guys were able to cobble together just enough of a similar story to allow the high priest to jump on it.  It was by no means a solid case, but it was the best that he had.
  2. Even what these guys said was blatantly untrue.  Not once did Jesus either claim to be able to destroy the temple of God, nor threaten to destroy the Jerusalem temple (which is the implication).  What DID Jesus say?  John records it for us.  Jesus had come to Jerusalem early in His ministry & cleansed the temple by overturning the tables of the money-changers & driving the crooks out of the temple courtyard.  The priests had allowed a corrupt system of “pay-to-play” regarding worship in that no sacrifice anyone brought in was truly good enough; they had to purchase the “approved” animals provided by the priest.  Oh, and by the way, the temple didn’t take regular money for the transaction, so people had to exchange their Roman money for the temple money (for a slight fee, of course).  It was corrupt to the core & it rightly incensed Jesus & He threw them out.  The priests were upset with Jesus about it & demanded a sign from Him that would demonstrate His prophetic authority to do such an act.  John 2:19–21, "(19) Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (20) Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” (21) But He was speaking of the temple of His body." [] Nowhere was Jesus threatening to destroy the temple renovated by Herod.  Even if people misunderstood His symbolism, at least that much is clear.  Jesus HAD said that the temple would indeed be destroyed.  As He left the temple for the last time, He said that not one stone would be left upon another that would not be thrown down (Mt. 24:2).  Yet He never once claimed to be the One who was going to do it; He merely prophesied that it would be done.  So even this one charge brought forth by the witnesses was spurious.
    1. BTW – don’t miss what Jesus DID say would happen in three days’ time.  (That’s the one thing the false witnesses got right!)  When the temple of His body was destroyed by the Jews, Jesus would raise it up again (by His own power!) in three days’ time.  That is a direct prophecy of His resurrection.
    2. How important it is to keep the resurrection in view as we look at the events of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion.  Yes, Jesus did suffer.  Yes, Jesus was rejected & He was sentenced to death.  But death was not the end for Jesus; Jesus would be raised from the dead. …
  3. Although the charge is bogus & didn’t even agree, that was all the high priest had, so he went with it.  See vs. 62…

62 And the high priest arose and said to Him, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” 63 But Jesus kept silent. …

  1. The high priest has nothing & he knows it.  Jesus knows it too & doesn’t answer.  Here and in some of His other trials, Jesus refuses to be intimidated into answering to Man.  He isn’t going to play the games – He isn’t going to jump through the hoops that were demanded of Him.  He had set Himself to submit to the will of God & that’s what He was going to do.  He didn’t need to offer any defense of the false charges against Him.  If He had, He surely would have freed Himself because He was being wrongly convicted.  Instead, Jesus was silent – thus fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah. Isaiah 53:7, "He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth." []  Jesus HAD to be silent, because He was a willing sacrifice.  To defend Himself meant that He would have rebelled against the plan of God the Father to send Him to the cross, and Jesus was not about to do that.  He willingly submitted Himself to the lies and despising of men because He was willingly submitted to the plan of salvation of His loving Father.
  2. Jesus had a single purpose, and He wasn’t about to deviate from it one bit – no matter how much the high priest goaded Him about it.

…And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”

  1. Finally, we get to the heart of the issue!  No more liars – no more games – no more legal loopholes.  What cut the high priest & other Jewish leaders to their quick was whether or not Jesus is the Christ.  THAT was the issue.  All of these petty lies and excuses was all done to get to this point.  They needed to write Jesus off from being Christ.  If Jesus is the Christ, then Jesus is the Son of God – Jesus is their rightful King.  If Jesus is the Christ, then they owe Him their allegiance and worship, and the Sanhedrin simply couldn’t do that.  They couldn’t give up their own power to this Person who turned so many of their legalistic traditions and interpretations on their head.  They couldn’t risk the wrath of the Romans coming in and taking away their power over the people because of another King in their midst.  They couldn’t give up the comfort of what they had simply because Jesus claimed to be the Christ.  They needed Him to admit it so that they could deny it and deny Him.
    1. That’s the same way it is with so many other people.  They simply CAN’T have Jesus be the Christ.  If He is, then everything in their life has to change.  They can’t bear the thought of giving up the comfort of their sin (despite the fact that their sin is poison and leading them to death).  They can’t bear the idea of God being Lord of their life, instead of themselves.  They need an excuse to deny Jesus, to claim that He and His followers are crazy and deluded – all so that they can keep up their own delusion, thinking that they are just fine without Him.
    2. Of course the problem is that we are NOT fine without Jesus.  If we were able to live righteously on our own, Jesus would never have come.  If we were able to give ourselves the one thing that is most important in existence, then Jesus’ ministry has no point – certainly the cross would be needless.  The most important thing in life IS life.  Life that lasts throughout eternity is the one thing that everyone needs, but no one can achieve or earn.  People exercise & eat right to live longer – people spend thousands of dollars on surgeries and hospital care to live a few more years – people inherently understand the value of their own life.  After all, when someone wants to end their life, we label that as a mental illness.  People may not value the lives of others, but we certainly value our own.  And yet we cannot do a single thing to extend it beyond our last heartbeat.  That is something that is beyond the reach of medicine, morality, and willpower.  That is something that can only be granted by God, or it will not be granted at all.  And that is why Jesus came.  Our sin means that the moment we face physical death, we face death for all eternity.  Jesus came so that we may have life, and life more abundantly (Jn 10:10).  We have to be honest about the reality we face without Him – and then we need to come to grips with who Jesus actually is: the only God and our only hope.

64 Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

  1. Finally Jesus speaks.  He would not answer the libelous false charges against Him, but this one was true.  The words of high priest in accusation were the same words of Peter’s confession of faith, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” (Mt 16:16)  Jesus doesn’t evade it or try to hide it; He agrees with the high priest plainly. There is no doubt that Jesus claimed to be the Christ, the Son of God – He doesn’t even need to repeat, clarify, or add to anything the high priest asked of Him.  The high priest said it all.
    1. Jesus is indeed the Christ.  The anointed One – the One on whom all the hopes and promises of Israel sat.  The Christ/Messiah is the One who would be the fulfillment of all of the national covenants of Israel: of Abraham (in whom all the world would be blessed), of Moses (who would fulfill the righteous requirements of the law), and of David (who would reign over the kingdom of God that stretched out over all the world).  The Messiah is the expected One – the One set aside by God and anointed with the Holy Spirit to do the work and the will of God.
    2. Jesus is indeed the Son of God.  The Messiah is the Son of God by promise – this is exactly what God promised to David when God promised David an everlasting kingdom. “I will be His Father, and He shall be My Son” (2 Sam 7:14)  The Messiah is the Son of God by supernatural means – He is Immanuel, born of a virgin (Isa 7:14).  The Messiah is the Son of God by His very existence from eternity – the Word was with God and the Word was God (Jn 1:2).  The Christ/Messiah is no mere man…He is the God/Man, co-equal with God the Father, but come to earth as a real human being as the Creator to live among His created.
    3. This is who Jesus is, and He wasn’t about to deny it!
      1. When we proclaim Jesus to our neighbors & the rest of the world, this is who we proclaim: the Christ, the Son of God!
  2. As Jesus agrees with the high priest, He says something else to everyone else listening.  Yes, He is the Christ, and even though it may not look like it now, they will soon see the Christ in all of His glory.  Jesus may be on trial by the Jews, but the Jews do not have the upper-hand on the Lord God.  Jesus will receive all power and glory from God, and the Jews will see this for themselves.  Jesus’ words actually echo a vision that Daniel had received of the glory of the Messiah at His coming.  Daniel 7:13–14, "(13) “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. (14) Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed." []  If there were any prior doubt that the Christ is no less than Almighty God who will rule the world, that is exactly what Daniel saw in his vision, and what Jesus has taught concerning His 2nd Coming!  The Son of Man (the Messiah) will come with all the glory of God and God will give Him rule over all the earth.  Every knee will bow & every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!
  3. The question is: how will the people who are listening to Jesus see that?  Jesus tells them, “you will see…”  The 1st thing we need to understand is that Jesus is no longer talking to the high priest only.  It doesn’t come across in modern English translations, but the number of people in “you” changes in the Greek. (This is one thing that is preserved in the KJV: “you” vs. “ye”)  Jesus was speaking directly to the high priest regarding his accusation, but now Jesus is addressing the entire room that is present.  And who was there?  The Sanhedrin: the priests, scribes, and elders of the people.  This was a representation of the nation of Israel as a whole.  The people in the room would not physically live to see the 2nd coming of Christ, but the nation of the Jews would endure until that day – and that is exactly what WILL happen the day that Jesus finally sets foot upon the earth again.  The Jews (and all the world) will see Jesus coming in great glory upon the clouds, and the specific nation of Israel will bear witness to Jesus setting foot upon the Mount of Olives, and they will look upon Him who they pierced (Zech 12:10).
  4. Practically speaking for the Sanhedrin as individuals, as well as for all of us, there is something that every man & woman needs to be mindful of: we WILL see Jesus.  Jesus spoke of His 2nd Coming to the Sanhedrin, and not everyone will live to see that day – but everyone WILL see Jesus one day.  The members of the Sanhedrin stood as a judge over Jesus that night, but one day they would look into the eyes of the Glorified King Jesus and know that HE is the judge.  The same is true of everyone…we will see Jesus.  As believers in Christ (those who knowingly & fervently trust Him as our God & Savior), we look forward to that day with joy & anticipation.  Yet even those who hate Christ will one day see Him.  They will look into His eyes as they receive their judgment from Him, and Jesus will be the last person they see before they are forever cast into eternal punishment.
    1. Jesus gives us this opportunity now to receive of His love & grace.  May we not waste it!

65 Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! 66 What do you think?” They answered and said, “He is deserving of death.”

  1. Obviously the high priest did not receive Jesus’ answer.  He rejects Jesus’ claim as the Christ outright & he finally has the capital felony charge that he was looking for (without the liars): blasphemy.  Jesus had claimed to be God, and the priest & council found Him guilty as charged.
  2. Interestingly, the punishment of death would have been legal & right according to the law of Moses (Lev 24:16)…but only if Jesus were wrong.  And that was the issue.  Jesus was right.  If you or I claimed to be the Son of God, we would either be lying or deluded.  Those are our only two options.  Either we know what we are saying to be a lie from the pit of hell as we try to lead people astray, or (as CS Lewis puts it) we are of the same mental quality as a poached egg.  There is no way that WE could claim to be God and be truthful.  But we aren’t Jesus.  Jesus claimed to be God, and He was telling the truth!  He lived a life completely free from sin – He taught the word of God with absolute authority – He did incredible miraculous acts, giving sight to the blind, cleaning lepers, and bringing people back from the dead.  And even beyond all of those signs of authority, Jesus did something that topped it all: He raised Himself from the dead.  Jesus’ own resurrection is the definitive proof that He is indeed God – exactly as He claimed to be.  The conviction according to blasphemy was false because Jesus’ claim of deity was absolutely true.

67 Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, 68 saying, “Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?”

  1. Seemingly justified in their contempt of Jesus, the council unleashes their hate upon Him.  The Jews abused their Messiah King, spitting in the face of our Lord and physically assaulting Him with their hands.  Who did it?  Matthew doesn’t specifically say – it could be the temple guard who likely would have been guarding Jesus at the time.  The text leaves open the possibility that the elders, scribes, and priests did it personally.  They poured out their hatred upon their King and God, mocking Him and throwing all of their sinful rebellion in His face.  Luke tells us Jesus was blindfolded as they beat Him, and they taunted Him to prophesy and use His power.
  2. The suffering of our Lord is immense here – but so often we tend to forget about His restraint.  Think of it: Jesus could have responded in righteous anger.  The prophet Elijah called down fire on soldiers who had not even yet arrested him – just think what Jesus could have done in an instant!  Yet He does none of it.  Jesus knew exactly who struck Him.  He knew how many hairs were on that man’s head, how old he was, who his parents were, and every single thing about him from birth-onward.  Jesus had known that man from before the foundations of the world.  Jesus was about to go to the cross and die for that man.  Neither that man, nor any of the others beating and abusing Jesus deserved an ounce of what Jesus was about to do for them, but Jesus did not restrain them, nor blink them out of existence.  He endured their abuse, loving them through it all, suffering the hateful tantrum of their sin, still purposing to die for them at the cross.  That is grace unimaginable.
    1. Jesus did it for them, and Jesus did it for you & me, too.  We did not physically strike our Lord in the face, but no doubt we spiritually spit in His face in our rebellion. …
  3. Through all of this, Peter has been outside, watching and listening as much as he could.  Keep in mind, the walls were not exactly soundproof, and it’s doubtful that the windows were covered up too much.  Peter had come to watch and see what was going to happen, and no doubt he was getting awfully nervous as he saw how the national leaders were treating Jesus.  Jesus had warned Peter earlier that Satan wanted to sift Peter like wheat (Lk 22:31).  He had told Peter specifically that he would deny Jesus three times, which Peter vehemently denied (26:35).  Peter had panicked in the Garden of Gethsemane, and now his own time of trial was at hand.  Would he stay loyal to His Lord, or would he stay on the sidelines?

69 Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.” 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.”

  1. Here’s the 1st denial.  So shaken was the disciple at this point, that a little girl was enough to shake the confidence of the big, toughened fisherman.  Peter had said that he was willing to die for Jesus earlier, but now he couldn’t even admit his proximity with Jesus to a little servant girl.  At this point, Peter is pleading ignorance: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”  This is his way of trying to deflect the question without actually coming right out and lying.  Of course he is, and there’s no real way to hide it.  He leaves that conversation and tries to move on.

71 And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!”

  1. Peter can’t escape the conversation.  Matthew tells us another came up to him (“another” being the feminine form of the word, which is why our Bibles say “another girl”), Mark tells us that the servant girl had seen him again, Luke shows Peter addressing a man in response – likely all of that happened at the same time during this 2nd denial.  Jesus’ arrest was a big deal.  There had been a multitude of people that went to the Mount of Olives to arrest Him in a riot, and no doubt quite a number of those people did the same thing as Peter.  Many of them went to hang out at the high priest’s house to see what would happen.  In any case, the attention turns to Peter again, and he is correctly identified as being someone who was with Jesus.  This time, Peter doesn’t pretend that he doesn’t understand; he comes right out with a bald-faced lie, and used an oath on top of it. (Breaking two laws at once!  Sin is contagious…)
  2. It’s interesting that the crowd knows so much about Jesus.  First, the girl knew Him as “Jesus of Galilee,” and now the other knows Him as “Jesus of Nazareth.”  In a bit of irony, the crowd isn’t claiming ignorance about Jesus at all, but Jesus’ closest disciple is.

73 And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.” 74 Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” …

  1. Peter’s oath couldn’t placate the crowd.  Like any other country, different regions had different accents, and a Galilean accent from the north would have stood out as obvious to this crowd of Jerusalem in the south.  Peter could deny with his lips all he wanted, but it was his own lips that gave him away.  Just as each prior denial had been a little more intense than the last, Peter goes all out with this denial, cursing and swearing how he did not know Jesus.  Peter didn’t even have the courage to even use the name of his Lord, and was more than ready to speak all kinds of blasphemies in the process.
  2. Peter had intended to stay on the sidelines, and panicked when he realized it couldn’t be done.
  3. Before we come down too hard on Peter, we need to remember how easily ANY of us could fall into this same trap.  We live among a world that absolutely hates our Lord & Savior, and there are some times that it is simply easier not to be known as a Christian.  Sometimes we just want to blend into the crowd, and not have anything about us that is going to rock the boat & give away our true identity as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Maybe it’s at our workplace, with our boss who is just vile in manners, and hates everything to do with God.  Maybe it’s as we travel, and we just want to blend in with everyone else who seem to be enjoying themselves in activities we might otherwise consider sinful.  Maybe it’s around certain family members, and it’s just easier not to bring up the subject at all.  Whatever it is in your case (and mine!), all of us can fall to the same thing Peter fell to.  We might be able to claim we would never deny Jesus if someone came right out and asked us, but we might not give anyone a reason to think we believe in Jesus in the first place.  At least Peter was already known for being associated with the Lord.
    1. The thing is this: we can’t really hide it – and we shouldn’t try.  Jesus said we’re the light of the world & the salt of the earth (Mt 5:13-14) – Paul writes we are the aroma of death leading to death and the aroma of life leading to life (2 Cor 2:16).  We’re going to stand out as belonging to Jesus Christ – that is what He has made us to be, and that is what He desires to do.  Since we ARE going to be associated with Christ, the better question might be this: how is it that we are going to represent our Lord?

… Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.

  1. All of us have had that moment of shock where the reality of life hits us, and we know exactly what it is we have done.  It’s unlikely anyone has experienced this quite to the extent as Peter did.  Judas would also later realize his sin, but he never seemed to come to grips with Whom he had sinned against.  Peter knew it exactly.  Judas was either apostate or a false convert; Peter failed but he never gave up faith.  Peter remembered the words of Jesus earlier that night, which had sadly proved to be 100% accurate.  If there were any single time that Peter had wanted Jesus to be wrong, that would have been it.  Peter had failed miserably.  That he “wept bitterly” seems to be a terrible understatement.  Words likely cannot express the grief he felt at that moment.
  2. The good news here is that Peter’s failure did not last forever.  Peter did indeed fail, but he was later restored by the grace and love of the Lord Jesus.  Any of us can fail, but failure doesn’t mean we have to forever turn away from Jesus.  What is most needed in our failure is true repentance, where we run back to our loving God who awaits us.

Conclusion:
It was a terrible night, and everything was upside-down.  Almighty God had been placed on trial by His own people, and He was found guilty of simply being who He is.  The trial was illegal, and it was only convened for one purpose: Jesus had to be rejected and sent to death.  The high priest and the rest of the council saw to that, as they vented their hatred upon the one Person they owed their worship.  So much was the disgrace against Jesus that Peter lost all semblance of courage, and his strength left him.  Peter crumbled in the face of a few simple questions, as he tried to hold his Lord at a distance.

Only Jesus remained calm and steadfast through the ordeal.  The Son of God had submitted Himself to the will of His Father, and the Judge of all the earth endured the humiliation of being judged by the sinful people of the earth.  He was indeed guilty – not of blasphemy, but of truth.  Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God – and that is something that must be reckoned with.

The issue for us is how we are going to deal with this fact.  We could try to be ambivalent about it, like Peter did that night.  The problem is that it’s impossible to do.  We cannot ride the fence with Jesus; eventually we’re going to have to pick a side.  Without the power and faith that comes from God, we’re going to fail horribly if we attempt to stay on the sidelines. 

Or like the Sanhedrin, we could reject Jesus outright.  They were not interested in truth, and neither are multitudes today.  They claim to have an open mind with Jesus, but when presented with the evidence that Jesus is exactly who He claims to be, they force themselves into a position of rejecting Him.  They cannot abide the idea of God actually being GOD, so they knowingly and willingly continue in their rejection.  The problem here is that they are still going to see Jesus as the Lord one day, but on that day of judgment it will be too late to do anything about it.

The third option is by far the best one.  It is to join the conviction of the Sanhedrin with the faith earlier shown by Peter prior to his failure.  It is to recognize Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and to rejoice in the gift of His love and salvation.

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