Sermon: Jesus Stands Before the Sanhedrin on Charges of Blasphemy Matthew 26:57-68

Truth Taught- Jesus stands accused of false charges and we see God’s divine decree unfolding leading our Lord to the cross

Introduction

Throughout Jesus’ ministry there has been the question of His authority.  This was the thorn in the flesh to the religious leaders of Jerusalem.  There was no doubt that Jesus did things that were supernatural.  His ministry of healing was beyond anything they had ever seen before.  His other miracles were so prevalent that it would do no good to deny them.  The question for them was by what authority do You do these things?  Even when Jesus taught, He taught with great authority.  

To keep them off balance, Jesus never really claimed much for Himself until He entered Jerusalem riding the colt.  Once He entered Jerusalem, His time was at hand so to help things along He began to make certain claims that were already true but now it was time to make them clear and make them public. 
When Jesus entered Jerusalem riding the colt, the people were declaring that He was the long-awaited Messiah. 

Matthew 21:9 (ESV)
And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 

Matthew 21:12–16 (ESV) 

12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” 

14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, 16 and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, 

“ ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies 

you have prepared praise’?” 

Matthew 21:23 (ESV) 

23 And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 

There are other places where Jesus’ authority is questioned.  Remember they were not denying His miracles but questioning His authority.  

It our text today, Jesus will finally tell them because He knows this is the issue that will cause them to carry out God’s plan.  Once Jesus speaks here in our text he will say two words to Pilate, four words in English and that will be the last words Jesus speaks until the cry from the cross.  He will remain silent as God carries out His plan. 

Here in verse 64, Jesus seals His fate by making some truth claims.  Yes, He is the Christ, the Messiah King and Yes, He is also divine.  He shares the throne of God as He will be seated at God’s right hand.  So, where does Jesus get His power and His messianic kingship from? God, the Father and nowhere else.  For this truth, He will be crucified.

There is this main point, namely, that Jesus is the Messiah, Son of David, Son of God and Son of man.  These truths will bring about His death.  They did not like Jesus being in authority, they liked the illusion that they were in charge.

So, before we look to our text for this Lord’s Day, we too must come to grips with the same thing the religious leaders did in Jerusalem.  They were not willing to acknowledge Jesus’ great authority.  Ask yourself if you accept and embrace Jesus’ authority in your life.  

The Apostle Paul understood this authority as he repeatedly referred to himself as a bondservant of Christ.  He acknowledged that he was a slave to Christ.  He was happiest as he acknowledged Christ’s authority over him and as he served Jesus.

Does Jesus reign over you or are you under the illusion that you’re in charge?

Pray…

Matthew 26:57–68 (ESV) 

57 Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. 58 And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. 59 Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, 60 but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61 and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’ ” 62 And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” 63 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.” 64 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.” 65 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. 66 What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” 67 Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, 68 saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?” 

1.  Jesus Taken to the High Priest

57 Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. 58 And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end.

John’s Gospel reports that before Jesus was taken to Caiaphas, he was led away first to Annas who was the former high priest and father-in-law of Caiaphas.  Much like Judas, Annas hated Jesus and everything Jesus said and taught.  Jesus’ authority was a real threat to Annas’ authority.  He had been in charge of the Temple including the money changers and we all know what Jesus did there.  At every step Jesus had been a threat to Annas.  He wanted more than anything to see Jesus dead.  

Annas became very rich.  He controlled the Temple moneychangers and sacrifice sellers.  No temple merchant could operate without being approved by Annas and his personnel and he received a percentage of the profits.  It was known during the reign of Annas that you didn’t enter the Temple without money.  

Annas despised Jesus because Jesus had real authority.  He threw out the moneychangers and all who would profit from the worship that took place within the Temple.  Jesus was a persistent threat to Annas’ authority and his wealth.  

John 18:19–24 (ESV) 

19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” 24 Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. 

Now Caiaphas was ready to see Jesus.  He had assembled the Sanhedrin and the other religious elite in Jerusalem.

Something we should understand is that Jesus had not been arrested on any charges.  There were no charges brought against Him…yet.  This council was entirely illegal.  Like in America, it was illegal to bring someone to trial without establishing the charges first.  They arrested Jesus bring Him to trial at night and then seek to establish something to try Him for. 

Think of it, an illegal sinful trial run by extremely evil, greedy, power-hungry men who claim to be doing this under God’s authority bringing to trial a perfectly sinless man who had always done what was right, who really was under God’s authority, who was humble and truly cared for the people.  This is the sort of trial that might happen here in America where justice for the elite and justice for the common people is entirely two different things.  We also see how God has used tyranny, greed and power to accomplish His purposes.

2.  The Sanhedrin Seeking the Death Penalty

59 Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, 60 but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61 and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’ ” 62 And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent

Notice the text here…they tried and tried to find something that they could accuse Him of.  They brought person after person with their lies trying to find something they could accuse Him of.  He was not guilty.  Even when they brought in those with their false testimonies none of it could be proven.  Jesus is sinless.  It is impossible to rightly accuse a sinless man.  Even those with lies and false testimonies could not accuse Jesus of anything.  

Try as they would they did not find any legitimate charges against Him.  

We should also note that all these false witnesses were guilty of perjury, lying under oath.  So, to seek to frame Jesus many people had to sin.  They were the guilty ones, not Jesus.

Mark 14:56 (ESV) 

56 For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. 

They were looking for anything that they could fabricate to charge Jesus with…there was nothing.

Through it all, Jesus remained silent.

3.  Caiaphas’ Question and Jesus’ Answer

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.” 64 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.”


How are they going to get the death penalty when Jesus was not even guilty of a traffic ticket.  This is what they are up against.  They have no authority to even have Jesus there under trial in the first place.  They have no authority. 

So, in a moment of desperation the high priest, Caiaphas asks Jesus if He is the Messiah, the Son of God?  

Here appealing to God, the most sacred appeal a Jew could make, Caiaphas demanded that Jesus either affirm or deny whether He is the Messiah.  His question is framed like this…

You are standing before God who knows all things and who has all authority so tell us right now if You are the Messiah and are You the Son of God?  When asked whether He was the Son of God, Caiaphas was asking if Jesus attributed deity to Himself.  


They knew that Jesus had claimed to be the Messiah and Jesus also claimed Sonship to God.

John 5:17–18 (ESV) 

17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” 

18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. 

Just a few hours ago at His arrest Jesus declared to be the I AM when all the band of soldiers fell down because of His great authority. 

John 8:56–59 (ESV) 

56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. 

Before this mockery of justice, the Jews already knew the answers to their questions.  Things are not going very well.  Jesus knows that at this rate, He will never be crucified.  So, in order to obey the Father’s will, Jesus helps them…

64 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.”


He asserts His Messiahship and His deity…with great authority.  Jesus is in charge.  Not the Sanhedrin or Caiaphas or the scribes or the elders or the chief priests…Jesus.

The One on trial with no charges that would stick now gives them a reason to kill Him on purpose.  Unless God works here, Jesus would never have been crucified.  We saw that last week and we see it again today…God is running this trial not the council.

Mark 14:61–62 (ESV) 

61 But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” 

Jesus then quotes Psalm 110:1

Psalm 110:1 (ESV) 

The Lord says to my Lord: 

“Sit at my right hand, 

until I make your enemies your footstool.” 


These evil people have no idea what they are doing.  Nor do they know what Jesus is really saying…
We might paraphrase Jesus’ response something like this…
Not only am I the Messiah and the Son of God, but one day you will see Me glorified with My Father in heaven and I will then return to earth as your judge.

Jesus has just declared that the one they are seeking to convict on false charges is the King and the Son of God and their sins will one day come back to haunt them as will Judas’.  Jesus is actually their Judge and while they could find nothing on Him, He knows their life history.
Make no mistake beloved, Caiaphas is in hell burning in the torment of eternal flames right now.  

4.  Jesus is Unjustly Condemned 

65 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. 66 What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” 67 Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, 68 saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?” 

Caiaphas is the drama queen.  So to call attention to Jesus’ statement he ceremoniously tears his robe and yells blasphemy. 

So, the evil judge has just condemned the innocent Man.  The charge of blasphemy is not true either.  Why?  Because for Jesus and only Jesus, He is the Son of God and He will be seated at God’s right hand of authority and He will return from heaven to earth and He will Judge rightly Caiaphas.  For those present that day Jesus will bring charges upon them one by one.  He won’t bring in false witnesses or need to produce any questionable evidence.  Their sins will be made known and their guilt declared and one by one they will be cast into hell and then into the Lake of Fire forever.

They declared Jesus guilty of Blasphemy for making Himself equal to God.

They began to spit on Him, strike Him and slap Him.  What court that you have ever seen when a guilty verdict is given begins to beat the accused?  This was not a real court trial but the court of evil men with greedy hearts who lusted for power.

Conclusion

This was Jesus’ divinely appointed time.  God is giving Him the strength to carry out His will.  God is answering Jesus’ prayer in the garden.  Jesus continued to trust His Father.

1 Peter 2:21–23 (ESV) 

21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 

Throughout this time of suffering Jesus’ glory shone forth.

Will you today acknowledge that Jesus possesses ultimate authority and He demands to be the Lord over you?  Jesus will be worshipped by all for who He is and what He has done.  Even Caiaphas will bow the knee to King Jesus.  For him it will be too late. 

Come to Christ today in faith and repentance and acknowledge His supreme authority over heaven and earth and over you as well.

Resources Used:

Matthew by John MacArthur

Matthew by RT France

Matthew by William Hendriksen

%d bloggers like this: