Theme: On trial in a case of life or death.
This weeks lessons show that we are the ones on trial.
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 spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him,
Was Jesus truly worthy of death? Assuming that a prima facie case of guilt had been made, as it seems to have been in spite of the evidence having been illegally obtained, what should have been the next step under law? Clearly the Sanhedrin should have begun to inquire diligently into the truth or falsity of the claim. We might think that the very nature of Jesus’ claims would have put them beyond any meaningful investigation. But that is not the case. The scribes were masters of the Old Testament. The elders were charged with the defense of anyone in danger of being put to death. They should have asked whether Jesus’ claims matched what the Old Testament taught concerning the Messiah. If they had investigated Jesus’ case fairly, they might have discovered:
1. According to the Scriptures, the Messiah was to have been born in Bethlehem, and Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Luke 2:1-7).
2. The Messiah was to be virgin-born, and Jesus was born of Mary, who was a virgin at the time (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:24-25; Luke 1:26-30).
3. The Messiah was to be of David’s line, and Jesus was descended from King David (2 Samuel 7:12-16; Isaiah 11:1-2; Matthew 1:1-16; Luke 3:23-31).
4. The Messiah was to be preceded by a figure like Elijah, and John the Baptist filled that role (Malachi 3:1; 4:5; Matthew 17:12-13; John 1:19-23).
5. The Messiah was to do many great works, and Jesus had performed the works that had been prophesied (Isaiah 61:1-2; Matthew 11:1-6; Luke 4:16-21).
6. The Messiah was to make a public entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey, and Jesus had done this just a few days before (Zechariah 9:9).
7. The Messiah was to be betrayed by a close friend, and Jesus was so betrayed (Psalm 41:9; Matthew 26:14-15; 27:3-8).
8. The Messiah was to be despised and rejected by his people and to be familiar with suffering, and Jesus was (Isaiah 53:2-3).
What about the second part of the accusation, that Jesus had claimed to be God’s Son? This was a shocking claim to those who were steeped in the Judaism of Christ’s day. It must have been deeply abhorrent. But it was not so inconceivable that the Sanhedrin could not have asked in fairness whether anything of this nature could possibly be suggested by the Scriptures. If they had done this, they might have observed that:
1. There are references in the Old Testament to precisely the kind of unique Son of God Jesus claimed to be (Psalm 2:7; Isaiah 9:6).
2. The Old Testament speaks of God becoming flesh (Isaiah 7:14).
3. There are Old Testament passages in which Jehovah is said to have appeared among men (Genesis 16:13; 18:13, 17, 26; Daniel 3:25).
These passages contain references to the appearances of God on earth in human form and suggest that Jesus met every test that might reasonably be raised to determine if he was this one. The Sanhedrin might not have been convinced; they probably would not have been. But this is still a reasonable defense, and its absence from the trial exposes the closed minds and jealous hearts of those who were Christ’s judges.
These leaders were not substantially different from millions of careless people in our day. Christ is proclaimed as God’s unique Son, but millions reject that claim and turn their backs on the defense. There is a defense. It is presented regularly in countless Christian churches, on radio and television, in books and magazines, and in other forms of communication. But they will not hear it. They will not go to church. They will not listen to Christian radio. They will not read Christian books. What shall we say of such people? Are they honest? Are they open to the truth? Are they seeking it? No more than Caiaphas.
Yet the important thing is not what they are doing. It is what you are doing. Have you considered Christ’s claims? Have you pondered his defense? If not, I challenge you to do so now. In the last analysis, it is not Jesus who is on trial. That is past; it is over. You are the one who is on trial, and the question before you is: What will you do with Jesus?
If the elders had referred to Scripture to thoroughly investigate Jesus’ claim, what would they have discovered?
What is true of those who reject Christ’s defense?
What is Dr. Boice’s challenge to you at the end of todays lesson?
Read through all the passages Dr. Boice mentioned from which the elders could have proven Jesus’ claims to be true.
You are the one who is on trial, and the question before you is: What will you do with Jesus?