As we worship this morning we have great hope in what God is doing in our lives, and that is a hope that begins from the time we are young children. We resonate with stories of hope. We resonate with the desire about what God might do in our world and in our lives. This is something that is everyone shares together. We want to see our world restored. Growing up we read books about this such as the Lorax which stir that hope of redemption inside us. We also read books such as Winnie the Pooh which stir that desire of living in perfect community with one another and reflects how things should be.
God instills in us a desire to be restored
As we look in Matthew chapter 26, we look at this message and even as adults we have this desire within us to see ourselves restored and be made whole – the way God designed us to be. Even as we look at politics today, no matter what political party is running, the general themes and promises are about restoration and bringing people together as a whole. This desire that God instills in us is that we desire to see a better world, whatever our dream of that might be.
As we look at Matthew chapter 26, we have revealed before us God’s design for a better world. All the way back in Old Testament times we see a hunger and a hope of people wanting to see how God designed them to be. We have Old Testament promises that one day the Messiah is going to come and when He comes He is going to set things right. When the Messiah comes the King is going to rise and is going to lead us in the truth and in the right way. So there is a hope all the way in the Old Testament, but then you have this period of 400 years where there is no word from God, but then right from the beginning in Matthew we see this genealogy and this repetition of people hoping for a Messiah to come and finally make everything right. Now as we come to the end of Matthew, in Matthew chapter 26, they are still wondering, is Jesus the Messiah? Is He the hope of the world? Is Jesus the one who will restore what is broken within me? That is the question we have come to in Matthew chapter 26. Here we are 2,000 years later and we are still in a culture that is wonders is there a hope for our world, and we see it right here in the scriptures, we see that Jesus is the hope of the world!
Darkness hates light
Every time we see something God is trying to do we see some level of resistance. Every time we have this Kingdom rolled out, every time we have this truth that goes out, that there is a hope and that there is a future, there is always some level of resistance to that because darkness hates light.
Matthew chapter 26 our overall passage begins in verse 57, but we are going to read first from verse 59
As we read this we see that Jesus had been arrested and Jesus was on trial. Now this trial was the Jewish trial before he goes to Pilate. Now what they are trying to do is that they are trying to find some kind of charge that will stick against Jesus. So we are joined here in this council that has gathered in the middle of the night.
Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death,….
Matthew wants us to understand that Jesus is on trial and that very clearly Jesus is innocent. When Jesus goes to the cross for us He is innocent and these are false charges being brought against Him. He is a sinless sacrifice and that He lived a perfect life. However, this council and trial isn’t seeking the truth. They are seeking some way to get rid of Jesus. They are not concerned about whether or not what is being done is true. That is what darkness does. Darkness is not interested in truth, darkness is interested in how do we retain this power, but they need a charge. In the passage that we are looking at today, in this Jewish trial Jesus is going to be found guilty. They are finding Jesus guilty of claiming to be God and this is a true charge. Jesus is claiming to be God. But here is the problem, this Jewish court does not have the power to get rid of Jesus. They do not have the power to crucify Jesus. Only the Romans can do that since they are under Roman rule. So if they go before Pilate, which they did, and they say that Jesus claimed to be God, guess what Pilate says, “so what”? We don’t put people to death for claiming to be God, even today. We don’t put people to death for claiming to be God – so the charge they are looking for doesn’t hold up in the Roman court, so what they are trying to do is claim that Jesus is a political activist – that Jesus is trying to overthrow the Roman government. That is the charge that they are trying to get to stick even though it is not the charge that is going to be issued in the Jewish council. The charge that they are issuing in the Jewish council is the fact that Jesus is claiming to be God, but when they eventually come to Pilate they charge Him with trying to be a political activist.
Nothing is sticking that they can bring before the Romans for them to convict Jesus, but darkness doesn’t care – it only wants to drive out light.
not reach a point to where we are so used to darkness that when light shines in that we push back - even when it’s the truth that will set us free.
Actions speak louder than words
You’ll notice that during the trial after many attempts of people giving false testimony that doesn’t stick, two people come forward in verse 61. This is Jesus talking about his body being God in the flesh and what He is going to do through the resurrection by raising from the dead in three days, but the high priest doesn’t care. They see this as a way to treat him as though he is a political activist.
59Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, 60but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days’.”
So the priest tries to get Jesus to answer to the claims made about Him, but we need to notice something very significant here is scripture.
But Jesus remained silent.
This is tremendously significant. All four of the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John have this event of Jesus staying silent when the charges are brought against Him. There are very few events that are contained in all four of the Gospels and they all say the same thing – they all say Jesus remained silent. This is one of them. It teaches that actions speak louder than words. We might want to say, “Why didn’t Jesus defend Himself. He is innocent!” There is no defense given for these accusations.
Lee Strobel a man with a legal background who was at that time an atheist began looking at the claims of Jesus. Lee was a lawyer and he began a legal investigation of the trials of Jesus. As he began looking at this passage, he was puzzled as to why Jesus would stay silent when these charges were brought against Him.
The reason is that Jesus remained silent because of YOU and me. Jesus remained silent because even though He was innocent, Jesus is taking our place. Jesus is willingly taking our place on the cross for the punishment that we deserve. Jesus is willingly going to be taking our sin upon Him, and Jesus is going to be willingly convicted ultimately b/c of what you and I have done.
Jesus is God!
This is the difference between any other religion and Christianity. The two major truths of Christianity:
1) That Jesus is God
2) That Jesus died on the cross for you and me
These are the two points that the world cannot stand. But these are also the greatest difficulty for us as well. Whether you are a believer or not, these are the greatest challenges that we face. When we consider that God Himself would come to this world and die on a cross for us, our sin, in our place.
Why would God die in our place? This is a truth that is hard for us to understand. That is why every other major religion tries to find some other way to explain how the world works. How restoration with God works. They try to minimize the cross and they try to minimize the fact that Jesus is God.
Last year we were on a mission trip to Thailand and they were working with mainly a Buddhist population teaching ESL and Christianity to mostly university school officials. When we were teaching the part where Jesus was going to die on the cross in our place, we had one person raise their hand and say that they had never heard that before. That they had always seen a picture of the last supper with Jesus and his disciples and been taught that Jesus had been When people deny the cross they have to come up with some other way to explain how restoration with God works – they have hard time understanding that Jesus died in our place. These people in Thailand were actually struck by this truth. You could see that they it had actually impacted their hearts to hear that God took their place to be joined back together with them.
Other religions come up with other ways to try to explain the cross
Muslim’s claim that Jesus never claimed to be God.
Mormons claim that Jesus is a god, but not the one and only God. That even you can become a god as well…..well….only the men can become one…. Ladies if you play your cards right and marry a man who is going to become a god – then you can become a god to get in as well.
The two main truths of Christianity are that Jesus did die on a cross in our place while raising from the grave as He said He would do and that Jesus is God! This is the very heart of Christianity. This is the very heart of what Jesus came to do. He is not convicted b/c of anything He has done wrong, He remains silent for you and I because we is taking our place on the cross.
Also, what we find out during this trial is amazing. That Jesus is God!
That what he is actually charged with during this trial that Jesus says that He is God. Look at trial continues here. In Matthew 26:63-66
63But 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.” 64Jesus 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.”
This is the affirmative – where people are asking Jesus a bunch of questions and He has been silent, but after they ask Jesus this question He breaks His silence and set them straight admitting that He is God. There have been times before this where people have proclaimed Jesus to be God and He has told them don’t tell anyone yet, but that time has past and now it is time for Jesus to make Himself known. This is the time where Jesus Himself says that He is God. He doesn’t want there to be any confusion about who He is, so He as been very careful not to let others say who He because there is so much confusion about who Jesus is.
Why is it that we resist the truth that Jesus is God? Maybe you are here today and you have or are struggling with the fact that Jesus is God. It’s a good struggle to have. The reason we struggle with this is because of the reality that Jesus being God means He is worthy of worship, He is King and ruler of our lives, that we are to follow Him, and that He is master and Lord of everything. He is the one who we give our lives to.
Pay special attention to Jesus’ answer in scripture. In Matthew 26:64 we see
64Jesus 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.”
This is the priest asking Jesus if He is God, and this is Jesus answering that He is in fact God, but Jesus corrects Him a little bit – and says that not only is He claiming to be God, but that definitely that He is God! Not only is He the Messiah, but He references scripture in the Old Testament of the coming Messiah prophesied. Jesus wants to make it clear that he is not the political activist – Jesus is demonstrating that He is God and that He is the one who will rule forever and ever.
1“The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”
Daniel 7: 13-14
Ultimately Jesus is charged by saying that He is God. There was no misunderstanding with what Jesus was saying and we see this in the priest reaction in verse 65
65Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy.
This finally brings us to a place of victory of hope that he desire within our souls. While in our darkness we come to a point were we realize that our sin is so great that God would have to come down and take our place. But there is a great freedom that comes when we finally get to a point where we lay all of our reservations down and acknowledge that Jesus is the One who took our place, that Jesus is God, that Jesus is the One for us to follow with our lives, and that we can finally have restoration in a relationship with God through Jesus.
We no longer walk in shame
He takes away our shame, that we no longer have to walk in shame because Jesus took our shame for us on the cross. We see this in Matthew 26 67-68
67Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, 68saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”
This gets into the part where this is not just an intellectual conversation or trial, but where this gets into the physical part where we see how Jesus took on our shame and how Jesus paid for you and me by paying with his own body and life. This is what happens to Jesus and what happens to you and me when the world can’t silence Christianity and our views the next thing they will do will try to shame us.
Now we live in a world that tries to pretend that shame does not exist. When we look at what happens in our media today and in Hollywood we see this. We are in a shameless culture where people say, “I don’t care what anyone thinks of me, I can do whatever I want” and we pretend that shame does not exist. But it does exist and we do feel remorse for our actions and what is broken within us. The solution in our current culture in dealing with our shame is to just deny that it exists and if anyone makes you feel bad it’s their problem not yours.
We wonder about how we could get to the point that you can hate someone so much that you would do this. This is what happens when you let that darkness grow, but before we criticize them too much we need to realize that we do the same thing when confronted with our sin and our darkness. They try to shame Jesus and make it so that we do not want to follow Jesus. They shame Jesus all the way to the cross by publicly beating Him before they crucify Him for our sin, but we know that it doesn’t end there – that know that actions speak louder than words. We have the benefit of knowing that Jesus rose from the grave three days later and in rising from the dead that He is completely restored. If Jesus can bare our shame bore our shame and if Jesus can bare our shame for us, just think of what He can do in our lives.
One of the main strategies that Satan uses is to shame us – tries to discredit and embarrass us.
Whenever we feel our shame we try to minimize it and hide it, but Jesus doesn’t hide our shame. He defeats it!
Mark chapter 5 – a woman has an issue with blood and she has been dealing with this for most of her life. She has been living as someone known for this and couldn’t associate with people and been living in shame most of her life. She touches Jesus in a crowd and was held instantly, but even though she was healed she still has her shame and tries to hide in the crowd. She is still known as “that woman” – who doesn’t fit in – that woman who doesn’t belong, but Jesus stops the crowd and comes up to her and restores her.
34And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
We want forgiveness of our sin and get over this sin problem and just get on with life but so often we still carry our shame. Jesus’ resurrection means that we openly lay our sin and shame before God to be healed and be restored, we acknowledge it and admit it, but we are no longer held by it. Jesus stopped the crowd and made sure she wasn’t known by her shame and restored her. Jesus offers the same restoration for each one of us.
Have you come to the cross of Jesus?
Sermon notes were taken by Nathan Roberts.