THE LIFE OF CHRIST
In our last lesson we looked at how Jesus entered into the Garden of Gethsemane and how prayed and suffered with the thought of knowing what was coming. We saw how Judas betrays Him with a kiss and how His disciples flee the scene. We ended with Jesus being arrested and being taken away to Annas first, then to Caiphas’ house (Jn. 18:13; Lk. 22:54), where the chief priest, scribes, and elders were assembled (Mk. 14:53).
I will be spending most of my time in the John’s account, but I will refer to the other accounts as well. Let’s begin in:
John 18:15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. 16 But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in. 17 Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, "You are not also one of this Man's disciples, are you?" He said, "I am not." 18 Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.
Jesus’ disciples scattered at His arrest, but Peter followed Jesus from afar (Mt. 26:58). But, who is this other unnamed disciple who followed Jesus as well who was known by the high priest? Most believe that it was John. Since he was known by the high priest, he was allowed to enter where Jesus was taken, but Peter remained outside the door.
This unknown man, who was known to be a disciple of Jesus, spoke to the girl guarding the door so Peter could come in. We are not told what caused this servant girl to assume that Peter was also a disciple of Jesus, but I see at least two possibilities. First, just being a friend of John who wanted to see what was happening with Jesus could have caused her to think he was a disciple. Second, it is possible his Galilean accent caused her to assume he was disciple (Mk. 14:70). While her assumption was correct, Peter quickly denied it, which is his first denial that Jesus predicted.
Now, it was in the middle of the night and it had started getting cold, so a fire was made and Peter warmed himself by the fire with the servants and officers.
John 18:19 The high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine. 20 Jesus answered him, "I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing. 21 "Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said." 22 And when He had said these things, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, "Do You answer the high priest like that?" 23 Jesus answered him, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?" 24 Then Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
The place Jesus was taken to is believed to be the home of Annas and Caiaphas. John is the only one who records that Jesus was brought before Annas first and what took place during this event. Before we go any further, we need to understand a few things about Jewish trials.
Mr. Walker writes:
First, the individual was to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Second, the individual was not even to face trial until the evidence of witnesses could be stated and confirmed. Third, an individual could not be called on to incriminate himself. The case had to be established by witnesses. This understanding will help us when we see the response that Jesus' answer brings (Denton Lectures Electronic Version, Gospel of John).
This background information will bring more clarity to our text. Annas wants to know about Jesus’ and His disciples’ doctrine. Since Jesus was the one on trial, He only answered for Himself. His answer was simple because He had not kept His doctrine secret. He had taught it openly around the Jews and any of them could tell Annas what His doctrine was.
One of the officers did not like Jesus’ response, so he struck Him with the palm of his hand across His face. This was the usually response if someone was speaking against the high priest, and we have another example of this with Paul in (Acts 23:1-5).
However, Jesus did not deserve this form of rebuke because all He was doing was defending Himself and demanding what the Law of Moses called for. So, Jesus demanded for witnesses to be brought forth to prove that He had spoken evil thus deserving to be struck in the face. If there was a response to Jesus demands, we are not told. We only know that Jesus was sent to Caiaphas next. Now, this does not mean that He had to go a long way, but most likely He was just taken to another part of the palace.
John’s account does not record what happened when Jesus went before Caiaphas, but the synoptic Gospels do. (Mt. 26:57-68; Mk. 14:53-65; Lk. 22:66-71). I will mainly examine Matthew’s account, but I will point out a few unique things from the other accounts as well. One thing we need to keep in mind is that this secret trial they were having in the middle of the night was illegal. According to their own rules, a trial of this nature was to be done during the day. In fact, I read an article that gave 12 reasons this trial was illegal, but they did it anyway. So, let’s begin looking at our text:
Matt. 26:59 Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, 60 but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none1. But at last two false witnesses came forward 61 and said, "This fellow said,`I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.'"
These Jews wanted Jesus put to death for a long time. This is was not a trial to discover His innocence because they already considered Him guilty, but according to the Law of Moses, they have to have at least two witnesses to officially condemn Him to death according to:
Deut. 17:6 "Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness.
The problem was, there were no witnesses to be found because Jesus was not guilty of any sin and He did not deserve death, but this did not stop them because many false witness came forward, but their stories did not match up. However, two witness finally said something similar. They said that Jesus said:
‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.'
Even these two did not agree perfectly in what that said according to:
Mk. 14:59 But not even then did their testimony agree.
Though this was close enough for the opposing Jews, this testimony was false because this is not what Jesus said. He said the following several years ago:
Jn. 2:19 "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." 20 Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body.
Notice, He did not say that He would destroy the temple, nor was He was referring to the temple. He was talking about His body and His resurrection from the dead.
Matt. 26:62 And the high priest arose and said to Him, "Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?" 63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, "I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!" 64 Jesus said to him, "It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." 65 Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, "He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! 66 "What do you think?" They answered and said, "He is deserving of death." 67 Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, 68 saying, "Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?"
At first, Jesus remained silent, but then Jesus admitted that He was the Christ, the Son of God. He also appealed to a much higher court, which was the Father and how He would be sitting at His right hand and that they would see Him doing so. Luke’s account tells us that they blindfolded Jesus and mocked Him in addition to spiting in His face and beating Him while trying to get Him to prophecy who hit Him. It truly was an awful ordeal for Jesus.
What I find interesting is Luke lets us know that after this illegal trial, these Jews decide to go through the motions of what was already done that night during the day, and they repeat some of thing we just went over. Notice carefully how Luke points out that what is happening now is during the day. This way they could claim that an official trial was done during the day.
Lk. 22:66 As soon as it was day, the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led Him into their council, saying, 67 "If You are the Christ, tell us." But He said to them, "If I tell you, you will by no means believe. 68 "And if I also ask you, you will by no means answer Me or let Me go. 69 "Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God." 70 Then they all said, "Are You then the Son of God?" So He said to them, "You rightly say that I am." 71 And they said, "What further testimony do we need? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth."
Now, let’s talk more about Peter and His denial of Jesus while the trial was going on that night.
John 18:25 Now Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. Therefore they said to him, "You are not also one of His disciples, are you?" He denied it and said, "I am not!" 26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of himwhose ear Peter cut off, said, "Did I not see you in the garden with Him?" 27 Peter then denied again; and immediately a rooster crowed.
Peter has already denied Jesus once, and Mark’s account tells us that Peter would deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed twice (Mk. 14:72). When Peter, heard the roster crow the first time, it seems that Peter would realize that he was doing exactly what Jesus said he would do, but it did not stop him. When we examine all four accounts, we learn that there were multiple people asking Peter if he was a disciple of Jesus, which caused him to deny Jesus two more times. The last person who asked him was an eyewitness that had seen Peter in the garden, yet Peter still denied it, and Matthew’s account says that he cursed and swore that he was not a disciple (Mt. 26:74). Cursing and swearing here does not carry the same meaning as what we think of today. Instead, it means to swear an oath. It would be similar to someone saying, “I promise you I am telling you the truth, and if I am lying, let God strike me with lightening right now.”
When Peter denied Jesus for a third time, the rooster crowed a second time. Luke’s account gives us some additional information:
Luke 22:61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." 62 So Peter went out and wept bitterly.
If it was not bad enough that Peter denied Jesus three times and then heard the rooster crow this second time; He also did it while Jesus was near. I can only imagine how guilty Peter felt as Jesus turned and looked at him. We can only imagine what expression Jesus had on His face. Peter realized at that moment what Jesus had said to him earlier, and it caused him to leave and weep bitterly.
These events teach us a couple of lessons:
John 18:28 Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover.
The Jews decided that Jesus must die, but they could not legally kill anyone without Roman consent, which is why they were bringing him to Pilate at the Praetorium.
What is a Praetorium? Thayer explains:
1) "head-quarters" in a Roman camp, the tent of the commander-in-chief 2) the palace in which the governor or procurator of a province resided, to which use the Romans were accustomed to appropriate the palaces already existing, and formerly dwelt in by kings or princes; at Jerusalem it was a magnificent palace which Herod the Great had built for himself, and which the Roman procurators seemed to have occupied whenever they came from Caesarea to Jerusalem to transact public business.
The Jews had no problem violating multiple laws of God in convicting Jesus to death, yet they were still concerned about defiling themselves by entering a Gentile area.
One thing challenging about our verse is that the Jews did not want to defile themselves so they could eat the Passover. On the surface, this would suggest that Passover had not occurred yet. However, we know that Jesus and His disciples partook of the Passover meal the day before (Mt. 26:18; Mk. 14:14). So, how do we make sense of the Jews indicating the Passover had not taken place? Well, there have been several explanations given. Note the following explanations I have adapted from Wayne Jackson’s article, “Did Jesus eat the Passover Supper?”
1. Some claim the meal Jesus and His disciples ate was not the Passover, but this contradicts what the Bible teaches.
2. Some have suggested that they ate the Passover a day early and that it was acceptable because Jesus had the authority to do so. This explanation does not work because Jesus made sure that He kept the Law of Moses, and He did not change it; He fulfilled it.
3. Some claim that these opposing Jews were so busy trying to find Jesus that they did not eat the Passover on the right day, so they were going to eat it the next day.
4. Some claim that Jesus and these other Jews were using different calendars to determine when the Passover occurred.
While number 3 and 4 may be plausible, I believe the best explanation is that the word “Passover” can be used to describe the Pascal lamb itself (Mk. 14:12; Lk. 22:7; 1 Cor. 5:7), a meal that was eaten on the 14th of Nisan (Mt. 26:18-19; Lk. 22:8, 13; Heb. 11:28), and it is also used to refer to the eight-day period that included eating the Passover meal and the feast of unleavened bread (Ezek: 45:21; Lk. 22:1, 7; Acts 12:3-4). This explanation has the most evidence and many respectable scholars hold this view.
So these Jews were not referring to the Passover meal that was prepared the day before, but to the feast of the unleavened bread. If they allowed themselves to be defiled, they would not be able to participate in it.
We will conclude this lesson looking at the remorse of Judas and what he set in motion for our Messiah.
Matthew 27:1 When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death. 2 And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor. 3 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." And they said, "What is that to us? You see to it!" 5 Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself. 6 But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, "It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood." 7 And they consulted together and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. 8 Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, "And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, 10 "and gave them for the potter's field, as the LORD directed me."
This is early Friday morning when Jesus is being delivered to Pilate. When Judas saw that Jesus had been condemned to death he was remorseful. Though he was thief and greedy for money, he knew that no amount of money was worth the life of Christ. You can’t help but think that Judas may have thought that Jesus would have escaped this whole situation as He had done many times before. So, he may have thought he could have kept this money and Jesus be free at the same time, if they came to him trying to get their money back, he could say, “I did what I supposed to, you are the ones who failed.”
However, when he saw what his betrayal caused, he gave them back their money. Instead of seeking forgiveness from God, he went and hung himself. What I find strange is that the chief priest and elders did not want the blood money for the temple, yet they had no problem giving him the money in first place so that an innocent man would be put to death. However, this blood money was used to purchase a potter’s field.
We have two things that are sometimes seen as an error in these verses we just looked at. First, we see that Judas hanged himself. However, the book of Acts says:
Acts 1:18 (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. 19 And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.)
Some would ask, which is it. Was he hanged or did he fall somewhere and bust open his body in which his entrails gushed out. This is pretty easy to answer because he did hang himself as Matthew said, but apparently at some point his rope must have broke or the limb broke and then he fell on some jacked rocks perhaps or if his body was hanging long enough to decay, it would not take a huge fall to cause him to break open and for guts to spill out. So, there is no contradiction here.
The second problem is that Matthew says that Jeremiah prophesied about the 30 silver coins, but you can search high and low and not find that specific prophecy recorded by Jeremiah. However, you will find a similar prophecy stated by Zechariah 1:12-13. So, did Matthew get this wrong and use the wrong the name? While it might be tempting to say yes, there are many reasons that have been given by scholars that Matthew did not get it wrong even though you cannot find this exact quote by Jeremiah.
Instead of listing all the reasons that I have read, one reason will suffice and that is that Matthew is probably quoting something Jeremiah prophesied that is not recorded for us in the O.T., and we also have Zechariah giving us this same prophecy that is recorded for us. While man is quick to point out things that seem to be wrong in the Bible on the surface or that contradicts itself as long as there is a plausible answer to these difficulties, then no real contradiction has occurred.
In our next lesson, we will begin examining what happens to Jesus as He stands before Pilate.