Caiaphas slammed his hands on the podium.“Quiet! Quiet in the courtroom!”
As he looked around the room, he could feel the stress pulsating throughout popular – A late night, illegal trial was the only way they could convict him without drawing the ire of the masses.
But it wasn’t working.
Witness after witness had approached the stand. Each had attempted to pin a crime on Jesus. And each – sounded as stupid and false — as the last one.
“I saw him spit on an old man’s eyes….although I’m pretty sure the blind man was able to see after he did this.”
“I heard he performed a heist and stole thousands of loaves of bread from a local bakery to feed some hungry people.”
“I heard he beat up that demon possessed guy – Legion?” “Really? Cause I heard that he helped him.”
Not even two of the witnesses agreed on what the charges against Jesus should be and their statements were quickly devaluing into arguments.
Caiaphas was losing control. If they didn’t speed things up, it would be daylight. Then, their secret attempt at rescuing the people of Israel from this lunatic would fall apart. They crowds were surround the building. They would demand Jesus to be released. Caiaphas will have missed his moment to save his people from this foolishness.
Then two scoundrels came forward with a story that might work. “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days. (v.61) ”
Caiaphas raised his eyebrows. This could work. A plot against the community of Israel. Nevermind that the temple was made with beautiful stone ornaments making it difficult to perform such a task before the age of ‘explosives.’ Nevermind that Jesus had spent most of his days peacefully preaching and teaching in the temple. Nevermind that a few days earlier Jesus emotionally cleaned out the temple in order to bring it back to its former glory.
Caiaphas had two colluding stories. He had to use this on Jesus. But so far, Jesus hadn’t said anything in response. So Caiaphas growled at him, “Aren’t you going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?”
63 But Jesus remained silent.
Caiaphas glared at him. He stared at this sad looking carpenter. He thought of how Jesus had been single handedly ripped away following from their religious leaders for weeks, how he had called him – the high priest – out for hypocrisy, how Jesus had claimed a special connection with God. Caiaphas stopped. He smirked. That was it.
Caiaphas said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: tell us if you are the Anointed One, the Son of God.”
The crowd was silent. They knew what this meant. If Jesus admitted to being the Savior, they had him. He will have committed blasphemy. He will have claimed to be God – when they could plainly see he was not! Better yet -- this was a terrible offense in the Jewish world. An offense punishable by death.
Jesus looked up from his focus on the floor. He breathed deeply. He stared Caiaphas directly in the eyes.
“You have said so,” Jesus replied. “Yes.”
But before Caiaphas could high five the lawyers at the clever way that he had just tricked Jesus into exposing himself, Jesus continued his speech. “But I say to all of you: You will see the Son of Man, me, sitting at the right hand of the Mighty one, God and coming on the clouds of heaven, to judge you."
Caiaphas chuckled. Time for the show. He tore his clothes. He wailed out loud. “He has spoken blasphemy. Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” The jury’s response was music to Caiaphas’ ears; “He is worthy of death.”
At that pandemonium broke out. Dignified priest after dignified priest took turned slapping Jesus. They conjured up some spit in their throats and sprayed it all over Jesus’ face. They spewed forth every cruse they could think of and directed them at Jesus.
As blood fell from Jesus’ lip, Caiaphas smiled. It was only a matter of time. Soon – he would silence Jesus.
Stop for a moment and evaluate Caiaphas' decision.
Do you think it's wise to put the Son of God on trial?
Is it wise to argue with the One who controls storms?
Is it wise to condemn the one who condemns demons?
Is it wise to drive out the one who drives out disease?
But understand why Caiaphas did what he did. He did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God. Even though he had heard of the miracles -- and maybe even saw them -- he refused to believe that Jesus was the Son of God. His jealousy for Old Testament law took over. His desire to impress God with that jealousy motivated him.
He put the Son of God on trial, because he did not believe the Son of God to be the Son of God.
...what does that say about us? What does that say about us when we put the Son of God on trial knowing full well that He is the Son of God?
Now you might be thinking, “Pastor, I don’t own a gavel. I don't have a long judge robe. I don't have my own court and I don't even know where I would find the physical apparition of Jesus to put on trial. How could I put Him on trial?"
- Jesus—I love that woman. Even though she’s married to someone else, all that matters is our love. You are guilty of not understanding me.
- Jesus—I lost my job. I don’t have the money I used to make. You haven’t done a thing to help me. You are guilty of abandoning me.
- Jesus—I’m still single. I guess you don’t care. Don’t try to put up a defense about caring more about my spiritual well being. You are clearly guilty of not caring about me.
- Jesus—have you watched the news recently? Now it’s wrong to say marriage is only between one man and one woman. I have evidence you said the opposite in here. Guess you’re guilty of being a bigot Jesus.
- Jesus! I thought my church would have more people in it by now. I have been faithful to you. I've preached lots of sermons about you. Where's is your faithfulness? I judge you as unfaithful!
That last one was easy to write. It's a thought I have all too often. Maybe you have had a similar thought or one similar to another one. GET THIS: When we do, we are doing exactly what Caiaphas did. Only worse! We had the knowledge that He is the Son of God!
II. Jesus, the Judge
Here’s why judging Jesus is a terrible idea: Remember what Jesus said at the end to Caiaphas? Caiaphas probably laughed it off. You probably just thought it sounded strange. But – look at it one more time: “You will see me sitting at the right hand of the Mighty one and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
This is truth. When Jesus returns with the ethereal clouds of heaven with a gavel of lightning and his courtroom officials that are none other than angels who fly from the front of the courtroom to back, not holding nightsticks, but swords of fire -- What do you think his reaction will be to all those who judged him and condemned him?
What do you think his reaction will be to you if you judge and condemn him?
It’s not good.
So what do you do if you have judged God? What do you do if you’ve put the son of God on trial?
1) Appeal to His Mercy.
If you ever get bored during the day, you can always check out daytime judge shows. The CW has about 8 in a row. Judge Mills Lane. Judge Judy. Judge Joe Brown. The People’s Court. Each judge has specific qualities that make them fun to watch. Some are hard-nosed. Some are intelligent. Some are funny.
What makes Jesus special as a judge? Ephesians 2:4 tells us, “God is rich in mercy.” There’s the key characteristic of Jesus. He is merciful. Even though He has all the evidence in the world to condemn you – every last sin you’ve ever done, every last sinful word you’ve ever said, and every last sinful time you’ve put him on trial – Jesus is a merciful judge.
Scripture says as much. It says, “We have been justified – that means “declared innocent” through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)
That means that when you stand before Jesus, your judge, your defense will be really simple.
Don’t say, “But this is really your fault.”
Don’t say, “But I didn’t really mean it.”
Don’t even say, “But this other guy is much worse.”
Simply say, “Because you're merciful.” I did wrong, but you Jesus, are merciful. Pardon me.
Jesus will lift his gavel. He will smile. He will slam it onto his eternal gavel stand. He will look you straight in the eye – and say, “Innocent.”
2) Think Twice about Judging Jesus.
Maybe you’ve got a friend who’s kind of a know-it-all. The thing about know-it-all friends is that after a while, you stop challenging them. Otherwise, you have to sit there patiently and wait as Google searches for and confirms that Alan Alda is indeed the name of the actor who played Hawkeye on M.A.S.H and that Saturn has officially 8 moons, if you count the curved one that falls near the bottom.
It’s not wise to question your know-it-all friend, it’s infinitely less wise to question Jesus. So when you have a dispute with Jesus – “Why don’t I have more money? Is that really a sin? Does God really love me?” Pause for a moment before you put him on trial. Because maybe – just maybe – it’s sinful you who is wrong. Not non-sinful, perfect, all knowing, loves you more than you know -- Jesus.
3) Give Thanks (a lot).
Considering what Jesus has done for us – forgiven us for our attacks on him AND freed us from an inevitable condemnation in the fiery jail cell of hell – saying thanks seems more than appropriate.
Instead of figuring out ways to complain against him, think of ways to say thanks to him.
· Start a journal and keep track of all the blessings he gives you each day.
· Send an email invite to your friends inviting them to church
· Grab one of the Preserve our Missions jars and put a few extra coins aside to say thanks.
· Resolve to love your spouse all the time
It’s in our text too! What did Jesus say when Caiaphas questioned him about being the Son of God? Jesus knew the law. He knew it better than Caiaphas. He knew that blasphemy – saying you are God when you aren’t – was punishable by death. He knew that when he admitted to being God’s Son the jury before him would not believe Him and would convict him of death.
But Jesus still said YES. He let them convict him. Even though he had stopped storms, walked on water, driven out demons, and conquered death – he let some measly, angry human beings crucify him.
Because He is merciful. Amen.