The reflection from Churches Together in North Baddesley for Wednesday is given by Neil Jones from Baddesley Baptist Church.
Hello. Welcome to this, day three, of the Holy Week reflections hosted by the ministers of North Baddesley. My name’s Neil and I’m the minister at the Baptist Church, if you didn’t know that already. Today we’re going to be having a look at Jesus before the Sanhedrin and I will read from Matthew’s Gospel chapter 26, verses 57 to 68.
Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome. The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any though many false witnesses came forward.
Finally two came forward and declared, “This fellow said ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’” Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent.
The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the Living God; tell us if you are the Messiah, the son of God.” “You have said so.” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: from now on you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”
“He is worthy of death.” they answered then they spat in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said “Prophesy to us, Messiah, who hit you?”
This is God’s Word.
Jesus is now in the hands of those who want him dead. So far, we’ve heard the story of the Last Supper and how Jesus shared with his disciples and gave the new institution of the bread and the wine as symbols of his body and his blood. Then Jesus makes his way to Gethsemane with some of the disciples; but he goes away to pray by himself. He is then betrayed by Judas Iscariot who comes with an army of people to arrest him and eventually Jesus ends up here, at the Council of the Sanhedrin, before these people who want him dead.
These people have been plotting and looking for an opportunity to kill Jesus for a long time and eventually now they have it. He is in their hands; they have succeeded in what they wanted to do. This group of people, late at night, they were already ready; they knew what was going to happen – this was all planned and prepared by these men who wanted Jesus dead. They had many false witnesses lined up too – I wonder if some of these were people who just a few days before had cheered “Hosanna, Hosanna”. Their testimonies, though, didn’t match up until finally to do seem to agree – they say that he spoke about tearing down the temple of God and rebuilding it in three days. If we look in John’s Gospel chapter 2 verse 19 we see Jesus did talk about this but he was saying if you tear down this then I will rebuild it in three days; he was talking there about his body.
Jesus, in front of these people, remains silent, reminiscent and fulfilling Isaiah chapter 53 that talks of him being silent like a sheep before his shearers. This is clearly agitating the high priest who suddenly blurts out, forcing Jesus to reveal his identity, “Are you the Messiah? Are you the son of God?” “You have said so” – Jesus’s way of letting somebody know that they have got the answer right. Maybe we would say bingo or something like that. Jesus then reveals that he will be coming on the clouds and sitting at the right hand of the mighty one – talking from Daniel chapter 7, where he sees this image of the Son of Man coming on the clouds. The high priest instantly understands Jesus’s reference – that Jesus is himself calling himself God and at one with God. He tears his clothes, says “Do you need to hear any more? We know what to do don’t we? What shall we do?” “Kill him” they said. The scene ends then with an act of violence as people beat him slap him in the face, spit on him; Jesus very much in the hands of those who want him dead.
This encounter reminds me of one of the verses in “In Christ alone” that very famous modern hymn. This song is all about the crucifixion and what it means for us followed by the resurrection but the verse 2 says this:
“In Christ alone who took on flesh
fullness of God in helpless babe
this gift of love and righteousness
scorned by the ones he came to save.”
The Sanhedrin, along with many Jews of Jesus’s day, were longing for the Messiah, their rescuer, to appear, to come and to lead them. Yet when he did appear they scorned him, they wanted to kill him and now they have their opportunity as he is arrested and put before them. They have their opportunity to kill him.
We are also those that Jesus came to save. We have a choice of how to respond. We can choose to scorn him or we can choose to follow him. We can choose to deny him, say this isn’t for me, I want no part in this or we can choose to follow him, to obey him, to learn from him, to spend time with him. If those people of the Sanhedrin, nearly 2000 years ago, if they had followed Jesus, he would have lived. If we follow Jesus, he will live in us and we will truly live.
Thanks be to God