Defy, it means to openly resist. So, when you hear your pastor tell you to defy the crowd, he is telling you that the Bible’s way of living is contrary and different from the way the world desires us to lives. (27:11-23) As we return to Matthew 27, Judas has recognized his sin and returned to those who have enabled and sinned with him, only to be rejected. The world hates being told they have done anything wrong. Truly our humanity dislikes and oftentimes flatly rejects that we have erred. 

As Matthew returns to focus on Jesus, while Judas is out committing suicide. Jesus is now standing before the Roman governor Pilate as he asks in Matthew 27:11- 12~Are you the king of the Jews? You have said so, Jesus replied. When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. (ESV) Matthew 27:13-14~Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” (ESV) Pilate simply can’t believe Jesus will not try to defend Himself. 

In history books of this era, Pilate is remembered as a notorious antiSemite, who is hated by the Jews because he treats them unfairly and brutally. Pilate knows the Jews have no interest in protecting Rome. Listen to what Luke records concerning Pilate in Luke 23:6-7~On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. (NIV) Luke 23:10-11~The chief priests and the teachers of the law were vehemently accusing him. Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. (NIV)

I think we often forget all that happened to Jesus on the way to Calvary. We are all too quick to run past the questions, and ridicule as we look at the cross from a distant car window of life. To be sure these are difficult events, and the empty tomb is such a relief to us. But life is filled with questions, many of them uncomfortable. Then there is the ridicule and scorn that we face as believers for our faith in Jesus. Even forgetting that Jesus never asks us to do something that He has not already done. Remember the last words of Jesus are: It is FINISHED!

Today I want you to read the story of Jesus and His trial. (Luke 23, Mark 15, Matthew 27) Be challenged by what Jesus did for you and respond today by taking up your cross and following our Lord.

Burning Questions

When we think about the Gospels and how Jesus is tried, we often think they all tell the same story and share the same facts. However, Matthew shares nothing of Jesus’ hearing before the ex-high priest, Annas. Annas who served from about 6AD to 15AD as the high priest was deposed by the Romans. Though no longer the high priest, he continues to have considerable influence and power among the Jews. John 18:13~and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. (NIV) 

Something is rotten in the house of God. The priesthood was meant to be a lifelong calling that God ordained. However, God’s design was not for the high priest to be pushed aside like so many other things, it had become so politicized, some served only a few years. If a high priest offended a king or a Roman official, he would be removed. Annas was removed because the Romans feared he had too much power and influence among the Jews. But make no mistake it was Annas who controlled the temple money changers and those who sold sacrifices in the temple courts. History tells us these booths were called the Bazaars of Annas because he got a percentage of the income. On the night of Jesus’ arrest, Annas apparently orders Jesus to be brought to him first to give the Sanhedrin time to assemble. 

Annas hates Jesus and wants Him dead because His cleansing of the temple at the beginning (John 2:13-16) and at the end of His earthly ministry (Matthew 21:12-17) was not only an insult, but it was financially devastating to Annas. However, to get rid of Jesus, he must first devise a charge that warrants the death penalty. So, Annas questions Jesus about His disciples and His teaching. (John 18:19-20) Listen to how Jesus responds John 18:21~Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said. (NIV) 

Have you ever just ran on at the mouth when you should have said less? Many of us ought to take Jesus’ example to heart. He obviously frustrates and embarrasses Annas because, an officer strikes Jesus with his hand, saying that he is the high priest. (John 18:22-23) Well, it was, but what was the wrong thing Jesus said? He doesn’t say anything incriminating, yet Annas is evidently exasperated. John 18:24 ~Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. (NIV) With this monumental moment set as the backdrop, enter Pete stage left and witness the crumbling of the rock, as he fails horribly. When we fail the Lord and Collapse: there are 2 vital things to remember: That Jesus Suffered for us and that He forgives and restores us.

We must understand that Jesus Suffered For Our Failures (26:57-68). Caiaphas, the current high priest, is meeting before dawn with the scribes and elders who compose the Sanhedrin. They gather to formulate a capital charge against Jesus. All the disciples flee when Jesus is arrested, but Peter follows at a distance. He is now in the high priest’s courtyard, sitting with the guards and waiting to see what happens to Jesus (26:57-58). 

Inside, Jesus is taken to an upper floor of the palace, probably for privacy. There, the Sanhedrin tries to line up false testimony against Jesus, so they can condemn Him to death Matthew 26:59~Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death (ESV). If they find Him guilty of a capital offense, they must release Him to the Romans to carry out the sentence. 

According to Mosaic Law, for a person to be condemned to death, there must be the agreement of at least two witnesses. Deuteronomy 17:6~On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness. (ESV) Therefore, since no two false witnesses agree with each other, the Sanhedrin can’t use any of their testimony. However, these leaders and experts in Jewish law are violating the ninth commandment found in Exodus 20:16~You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (ESV) Including social media.

Finally, two men testify that Jesus said He can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days Matthew 26:60~but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward (ESV) Matthew 26:61~and said, This man said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days. (ESV) This is a distortion of what Jesus said concerning His own body. What did Jesus really say we turn to John 2:19, 21~Jesus answered them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. But he was speaking about the temple of his body. (ESV) 

Today, did you know that Jesus died and three days later was resurrected for you and me, and all of humanity? The purpose of Jesus coming to die for us is to restore us by forgiving us of our sin and suffering in our place for our failures. Oh, the atonement of Jesus Christ was violent as He who knew no sin, took on our sin, that we might receive His righteousness. I bet you know someone who needs to hear that Jesus died for them, for their failures, and shortcomings. Jesus died so that they might live. Ask God to whom He would have you share the good news, the greatest of news with today. Then respond as the Lord uses you.

Calm & Collected

Today, we return to Matthew to discuss Collapse. Collapse—to fall down, to give in, to give way. When we first come to the Lord, we are broken. Our lives have been misplaced and misled. The Lord then fixes our spiritual condition and sets about working on our person. Today, we paint a picture, then expand the picture, before focusing in on the redeeming qualities found in the picture. Let’s begin with who here can remember the Christian mantra taught to children, and if we are not careful, as adults, we will forget that the Holy Spirit is still working on us, no matter how far we feel we have progressed. The truth is every believer is in danger of faltering and failing in the faith. 1 Peter 5:8~Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (NKJ) The first thing Pete says is Be. 

Remember our pericope today (Matthew 26:57-75) holds Pete as a centerpiece, which demonstrates a great collapse in faith and how the Lord responds. It will be decades later when Pete, a great father of the faith says to his readers, just Be. Be who God created you to Be. For Be is found at the beginning, for we cannot Believe in Christ and practice faith as God desires, without Being. Being fully present before the Lord and responding with our whole Being. As Pete writes in his first epistle, he says to us, Be he sober, (napho, pronounced like the Ft Mill High School NAFO) it means calm and collected in spirit. 

When we spend our time and energy worrying, we run around like chicken little. Who is prevalent in missing the mark (by definition that word is sin). We may have some of the facts, but often there are holes and the information is wrongly ordered. Next, this seasoned saint who has lived what He is preaching says to us to Be vigilant. (γρηγορέω grēgoreō) Meaning to watch, attentive, cautious, active. For there is a very real enemy who desires to creep into our lives and wreak havoc. Saints, in the next few moments we will walk out the doors of our seeming safety and foray out into a world where sin is crouching, desiring to rule over us. (Genesis 4:7) 

What are you going to do when you fail the Lord? Jesus who has transformed the Passover meal into the Lord’s Supper and foretold of Pete’s denial will be accosted, arrested, by the betrayal of Judas’ not so holy kiss. Where He stood trial on our behalf. We must understand that Jesus is here to help. When we fail, we must turn to Jesus. Today, is there a place or area in your life where you have failed? Consider that for a moment, as you allow the Lord to speak to you through the power of His Holy Spirit. Then, respond to Jesus. Confess, ask for forgiveness, and strength to push ahead in the faith.