April 1, 2020 | by: 1 Comments|
To the casual observer, It would have seemed that Jesus’ prayer in the garden went completely unanswered. Though Jesus usually confounded the Pharisees and Sadducees at every encounter, this night was different. An armed mob that may have numbered in the hundreds accompanied Judas to Gethsemane, wielding clubs and swords. Frightened of Jesus’ power, and afraid of his popularity and influence, the priests arranged for the arrest to take place at night. The pre-arranged signal, to be given by Judas, was a kiss. The gesture should have shown respect, loyalty, and affection. But this kiss carried only dishonor, betrayal, and hatred.
The events of the arrest were quite chaotic. Peter used his sword to strike Malchus, still relying on physical strength to win the day. Jesus, meanwhile, caused the mob to fall to the ground, and healed Malchus’ ear. Neither of these miracles dissuaded the crowd, because their hearts were set on seeing Jesus arrested. Jesus modeled submission to authority, not resisting his arrest, even though it was a plot of wicked men. He didn’t trust those in authority, but the One who had sovereignly placed them there.
Jesus was taken first to Annas’ home, and then to the home of Caiaphas, the current high priest. Caiaphas quickly arranged a meeting of the Sanhedrin, and set about holding trial in the middle of the night. The Sanhedrin heard falsified, trumped-up charges against Jesus, and the witnesses that were called were bribed. No one was allowed to speak in Jesus’ defense, and the validity of his claims was not examined at all. Jesus’ trial was a mockery of justice and a disgrace to Israel.
The Sanhedrin was pressing toward a predetermined outcome. The priests wanted Jesus dead because he represented everything a high priest should be: holy, devout, chaste, honorable, and virtuous. Jesus’ very life and ministry were a constant rebuke to Annas’ corruption. Thus, he needed to be put to death. But according to Mark 14:59, the details of the testimonies did not agree. Caiaphas put Jesus under oath, and charged him to reveal whether or not he was the Messiah. Jesus’ answer gave Caiaphas a way to get around the false testimony.
Chapter Seven opens with Peter experiencing a trial of his own. Though not being tried in a criminal sense, he was being “sifted like wheat” (Luke 22:31). The details of Peter’s utter failure are included in the gospels in order to reveal God’s amazing forgiveness. As the disciples passed through this time of trial, in which they all experienced great personal darkness, the Lord was preparing them for future ministry. They would ultimately become the caregivers and teachers for all of the early Christians who experienced wicked and distressing days.
MacArthur points out that Peter’s denial of Jesus was a gradual defeat. In the time leading up to Jesus’ trial, Peter had boasted in his own strength (Matthew 26:31-35; Mark 8:32-33), prayed too little (Matthew 26:38), slept too much (Matthew 26:43-46), and acted impulsively in the Garden (Matthew 26:51). He simply was not following Christ well enough. He didn’t understand the plans that Jesus had carefully but clearly revealed to the disciples.
The greatest point of Peter’s story is that when he realized Jesus’ prophecy about his denial had come to pass, he ran away and wept bitterly. But where Judas’ remorse was only a worldly sorrow, Peter shed tears of real repentance. We know this to be true because He never denied Christ again.
The Sanhedrin had held their trial, and it had come to the desired verdict. After a recess, given so that the trial would conclude in the morning hours -rather than in the middle of the night- the Sanhedrin reconvened. Unfortunately for them, they lacked the legal authority to put Jesus to death on their own. They would need the consent of the Roman Governor in order to have him killed. That is why it was necessary for Jesus to be sent to Pilate.
At this point, Matthew interrupts his narrative with the story of Judas’ death by suicide. Judas had enjoyed the privilege of walking with Jesus personally for three years. He knew the truth about what Jesus taught and the way he lived. When Jesus was condemned to die, Judas realized that he was guilty of betraying an innocent man. As an attempt to rid himself of his guilt, he brought the money back to the Sanhedrin as restitution. Judas offered a confession to them that he was guilty, while Jesus was innocent. The Sanhedrin, of course, was no longer interested in Judas. They had arranged for him to play his part; now that Jesus was condemned, Judas was of no use to them.
MacArthur argues that Judas may have thrown the thirty pieces of silver into the holy of holies, where only the priest could enter. This final act of spite would have forced them to take up the blood money that they refused to receive back. Judas then sealed his fate by hanging himself on a tree.
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