12 Jul 2020

The Lamb Of God Before The Kangaroo Court [Matthew 26:57-68]


Jesus was tried before the courts. But it was no court of justice. It was a kangaroo court. It was all a conspiracy. The religious leaders were all out to eliminate Jesus in cold-blooded murder, using the judicial system as a disguise. Yet, this was also the very will of God for His Son. Why? And how is this episode in the last 48 hours of Jesus' life before the cross relevant for you and me? Check this sermon out!


Sermon Transcript

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Very good morning to all of you and welcome to Gospel Light Christian Church. We are so glad you can join us this Sunday morning. Now this is a very special Sunday morning because it is just after our country has gone through our national elections.

I want to say that I'm speaking today, a Sunday before this Sunday, which is the 12th of July. So I want you to know that I do not know the election results as yet. But I do want to say, regardless of whether the results were what you wanted or what you expected, I think as a child of God, as a follower of Jesus Christ, we ought to give thanks, we need to rejoice in His sovereign will.

The government is given by God, it's installed by God, for your good and for His glory. And I hope you remember in messages we have preached before in time past, that our responsibility after the government is elected, is installed, is that we should number one, pray, number two, obey and number three, pay. So pray, obey and pay.

We pray for them because that's what 1st Timothy chapter 2 tells us to, we obey them because that's what Romans 13 tells us to, and we pay our taxes because that's also what Romans 13 tells us to. So very easy, remember, we have to P O P, not P A P, but P O P, we have to pray, obey, and to pay our taxes. I hope that we would live out our Gospel allegiance by the way we relate to the government, by the way we speak of the government, by the way we submit to the government, it's an institution, it's an ordinance that God has set up.

So with that, I pray that we will continue this morning to focus our minds on hearing the Word of God and obeying Him. We're in this series called 48. It really looks at the last two days of the Lord's life before He will go to the cross. And we've been looking at some incidents, some exciting events already. Today will be no different. We're going to see how Jesus will be hauled up before the courts of justice to be tried.

I've entitled this sermon in a rather long way, but I hope it accurately describes what we are going to learn of. The sermon title today is the Lamb of God Before the Kangaroo Court, you say, what is that?

What's a kangaroo court? Well, I checked up a dictionary to allow you to have a clear idea of what this term really means. It is an of unofficial court held by a group of people in order to try someone regarded, especially without good evidence, as guilty of a crime or misdemeanor, or if you like, a simpler one, it's a mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted.

I think you get a sense that this is a kind of a scam, a kind of a mockery, a kind of a fake court. That's the idea. And one more, it's a court characterized by irresponsible, unauthorized or irregular status or procedures.

So today we're going to see Jesus appearing before a kangaroo court. It's, it makes a mockery of the whole justice system in Israel in those days, because the people there were not out for justice. They were not out there to find out the truth. They were not out there so that they can vindicate Jesus if He is innocent, or to sentence Him if he is guilty. They were there, basically to nail Him and to kill Him and to murder Him.

Now these are not my words, these are the words of the Gospel writer Matthew, we look at Matthew chapter 26 and verse 59. Now the chief priest and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put Him to death. You see, to them, the verdict is sealed, their decision is made. Their motive is evidenced here, they were not here for justice, they were here for murder. They wanted to kill Jesus Christ.

Now why do they want to murder Jesus Christ, what did he do wrong? Well, there's several reasons. The Bible tells us as to why they wanted to get rid of Him. The first reason I think you can easily infer is how Jesus went to the temple, at least two recorded times in the Bible to cleanse the temple, to clear the temple.

You see what has happened, is that the priests have set up a terrible system together with greedy people on how to fleece worshipers of money. They would set up the stalls in the temple courts, so that people who come to worship God will have to exchange their Roman currency with Jewish currency because they say the Roman currency has the inscription of Caesar and that is idolatry.

So of course, if you offer them the service to change their Roman coins to Jewish coins, they will have a surcharge and they lined their own pockets using that mechanism.

Also in the temple courts, they would sell the animals for sacrifice. They would be working together with a priest who examine the animals that worshipers bring in and the priest would deliberately refuse that sacrifice or disqualify those sacrifices, so that they, the worshipers have no choice but to buy animals from these merchants, who would sell them at a high price. And once again, they use the name of God to make money for themselves.

So Jesus went into the temple to clear it twice and I'm pretty sure the priests there must be upset that Jesus has come to disturb their business.

Now, the priests, the religious leaders were also upset with Jesus because He healed people on the Sabbath. And to them that is blasphemous, to them that is disobeying the 10 commandments. So they wanted to get rid of Jesus because they have always prided themselves in how they have meticulously kept to the Sabbath and their traditions.

We also see that in the Bible, Jesus exposed their wickedness and hypocrisy, that's found in Matthew chapter 23. He said woe to them, woe to them, woe to you, woe to you and oh, after Jesus' words against them, they must be pretty upset. And so now they, it is that time where they will deliver their retribution, their vengeance on Jesus.

So those are three reasons, but let me give you number four. The fourth reason is the Bible tells us simply that they were envious of Jesus. They were jealous that He was commanding such a big crowd, that so many people cheered Him, that when He entered Jerusalem on the donkey, children and women and men, everyone came to celebrate Jesus. So they were filled with envy and jealousy.

And of course, the last reason here, number five is found in John 11:48. This was Caiaphas, the high priest, who said, if we let Him go on like this, everyone will believe in Him and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.

So what is happening here is that Caiaphas is saying, Jesus is gaining popularity, it's getting viral, so many people are coming after Him. So many people will eventually crown Him as king, and the Romans will hear of it. And the Romans would think that Israel is staging a revolt under this man, Jesus and the Romans would come and obliterate us. So his reasoning is better to eliminate Jesus now, than to wait for the time the Romans will kill all of us.

So for all those reasons, whether it be the spoiling of the business, or the fact that Jesus performed miracles on the Sabbath, or that they were envious of Him, or that they were exposed of their sin or that they were trying to protect their own lives and their own countrymen, they decided now to seek false testimony against Jesus, that they might put Him to death.

So this is a kangaroo court. It was not convened for justice, it was convened for murder. It makes a mockery of the whole system, this is a scam. So in order for Jesus to be killed, they wanted to go through a legal process, so that the people will not revolt.

Now, this legal process can seem rather complicated for us, but I want to summarize it in two ways, or in just two stages. Essentially, Jesus would go through first a Jewish judgment, and then He will go through a Roman judgment.

You say why? Well, the Jews, they have their own laws, they have their own system, but because they were vassal state, in other words, they did not rule themselves, but the Romans ruled over them, that's why they pay taxes to Caesar. They did not have the right to capital punishment, but they wanted Jesus killed.

So in order to murder Jesus, they need to judge within themselves, in the Jewish judgment first, and then they will deliver Jesus, having concluded and decided he's guilty, to deliver Him to the Romans, to the Roman court that He might then be officially sentenced to death.

So there are two main judgments, but within each there are three stages. First, in the Jewish judgment, we read of Jesus sent first to Annas and his house for a kind of pre-trial if you like, and then He went to Caiaphas for another round of trial. And then finally, He appears before the Sanhedrin, the gathering of 70 elders, 70 leaders to be officially charged in the Jewish court.

After the Jewish judgment, they then sent Jesus to the Roman judgment who first appeared before Pilate, and then to Herod and then to Pilate. This is like a musical chair, you know how it is, you pass that parcel because you do not want to be the one that ends up with the parcel. And he will send first to Pilate, Pilate wanted to wash his hands off Jesus, sent Him to Herod. And then Herod sent Him back to Pilate. So all these are the trials that Jesus would have to face and this is what we will read in the time to come.

Today, let's look at the Jewish judgment, at least up to Caiaphas time. This judgment begins at Annas house. This is not recorded for us in Matthew. So we need to look at it in John, John 18 and verse 12. So the band of soldiers 600 of them and their captain and the officers of the Jew, Jews, arrested Jesus and bound Him and first, they led Him to Annas, for, he was the father in law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.

So Annas was still someone who wielded great power in Israel, he is no more the high priest. He has handed it over to his son-in-law, Caiaphas, but he still pulls the strings. So in Israel in those days, the high priest is a very influential and indeed lucrative job. It is something that people would even pay money for, because you know, the business that they will get in the temple courts would very handsomely reward that initial outlay.

So Annas here still holds the strings, and Jesus is brought before Annas. And this is what the Bible gives us a commentary of, it was Caiaphas, who at first or advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people. So instead of the whole nation perishing, let's get rid of Jesus.

So Annas was in agreement with his son-in-law. And so now Jesus appears, and the high priest then question Jesus about His disciples and His teaching. I want you to notice, Annas here, the former high priest, if I may add, questioned Jesus without someone bringing a charge.

Now, usually in a court of law, you appear before the judge and there must be someone who brings a charge against the accused, but there is nothing like that. Jesus just appears, no one lays a charge, but the high priest begins to interrogate and investigate and question Jesus about His disciples and His teaching.

It's almost like there is nothing but he wants to find something. He's trying to squeeze blood out of, out of stone. He's trying to dig up some dirt, some handle, so that he might charge Jesus.

Jesus answered him, I've spoken openly in the world, or to the world, I've always taught in synagogues and in a temple where all Jews come together, I've said nothing in secret. There's nothing that I have not spoken of publicly. And if there is anything guilt worthy, you should find someone to lay that charge on me, Jesus understands that. Why do you ask me, ask those who have heard me what I said to them. They know what I said, if you really have a charge, then bring it.

But look at the response. When He had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand saying, is that how you answer the high priest? Who do you think you are? How dare you speak like that to the high priest. So there was no reason, it was just intimidation, there were just threats.

Jesus answered him, If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong but if what I said is right, why do you strike me. Annas then sent Him bound to Caiaphas, the high priest. So Annas kind of softened, or at least he hoped to soften Jesus up, threatened Him, intimidate Him.

But now we are brought to the scene, second stage of the Jewish judgment, where Jesus appears before Caiaphas and that's where Matthew records for us. Then those who had seized Jesus led Him to Caiaphas, the high priest where the scribes and the elders had gathered. So at Caiaphas' residence, at his house, the leaders were all ready.

You see, this was all a ploy, this was all a scheme, they would buy Judas over, Judas would betrayed Jesus, Jesus would be arrested at the time that they have determined and now they're all sitting there waiting for Jesus to arrive, and Peter was following Him at a distance as far as the courtyard of the high priest and going inside, he sat with the guards to see the end.

Now we're going to read a bit more about Peter in the next week. And then in verse 39, or 59, now the chief priest and the whole Council were seeking false testimony against Jesus, that they might put Him to death. You see, they're not looking for justice, they were looking for false witnesses, just anyone who could give them an excuse to execute Him. But the Bible says they found none.

Amazing, they found none. Absolutely no one could lay a guilt on Jesus. Though many false witnesses came forward, many came to kind of fake something out. And at last, two came forward and said, this man said, I'm able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.

And the high priest hearing that, stood up and said, Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you Jesus? What do you say? He 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. Jesus 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. You have rightly said so, and I will come one day in great glory.

Now, Jesus is absolutely right to say this because He indeed is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, but the high priest now went into his dramatics. He went into his theatrics, he put on a show. Oh, he looks so pious here, he tore his robes and said, he has uttered blasphemy, what further witnesses do we need? You have now heard His blasphemy.

Gotcha, that's what he said. We've got you, we've got a handle on you. He must be smiling inside even though he acted so grieved on the outside. So what is your judgment? They all answered, he deserves death.

So here you have, a kangaroo court, not out for justice, but for murder. And they added a bit more CCA, co curricular activities. They spit in His face and struck Him and some slapped Him. They took that opportunity to ventilate their frustration or vent their frustration on Him, at Him, saying prophesy to us, You Christ, who is it that struck You?

Now, I'm not a lawyer, I have not been legally trained at all. I'm not very good with legal procedures. I was trained as a doctor. So if you ask me medical stuff, it might be more accurate there. But even though I'm not legally trained, I understand that in the courts of justice, there are some basic principles and procedures to ensure fairness and justice, in legal sentencing.

I understand that trials often and we understand should be conducted in the public. It should not be within a small group of people, where people have no access to assess its openness or fairness. I understand that in trials, the accused had a right or the accused has a right to defend. He can bring along an attorney, a representative, a counsel to advise and to defend him.

I understand that in a court of law, you should have reliable witnesses and the witnesses have to be held to a high degree of accountability. I understand that trials need to have charges, there must be charges from people who have seen the crime. I understand that trials should be done in a decent time where people are wide and awake, I understand these basic things.

But let me say that in this account of Jesus in the kangaroo court or before the kangaroo court, a lot of these basic principles are absolutely violated. Say for example, as I've mentioned, trials should be made in public. But you know, for the trial of Jesus, it was made in someone's house.

It was made in Annas' house, it was made in Caiaphas' house, actually, trials in those days were to be made or to be conducted in a hall of judgment in the temple, it's a public space. But it wasn't, Jesus was first led to Annas and then He was led to Caiaphas, He was denied a public trial, he was denied fair procedure in justice.

Number two, I hope you realize that all of us, if you are to be charged in court, you have a right of defense. You have a right to call in witnesses, to call in an attorney, someone to represent you. But Jesus didn't have that, right.

We understand that in trials, there must be a clear charge, but Annas and Caiaphas, all they wanted to do was to dig dirt up out of Jesus' own mouth. No one was laying a true charge. They, Annas just wanted to just dig that out. And the yah, Jesus was saying, there's nothing that I said in secret.

If there's anyone who has a real charge for me, should be revealed right away. You should not wait for me to say it to you, if there's anyone who has found me guilty, let him stand up and lay that charge on me. But again, we know that there wouldn't be anyone like that because they were merely seeking false testimony.

And when they heard Jesus say, you have said so, they rejoiced in a charge of blasphemy, they have now found. But the point is, there was no real charge that was laid on Jesus by anyone else.

We see that witnesses were also questionable in this case, for many bore false witness against Him, but their testimony did not agree. Now, you know that in the Jewish law, that you require two or three witnesses, but there was none to agree.

And I say that witnesses must be held to a high degree of accountability, but in this case, there wasn't. In again, the Jewish law, besides the fact that you need two or three witnesses, the Bible also says, if a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, then both parties to, then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days, the judges shall inquire diligently and if the witness is a false witness, and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother, so you shall purge the evil from your midst.

The idea is, if a witness is testifying, that someone has committed murder, but he's a false witness, then the sentence for murder that is, accorded to him, should also be given to this false witness. Now this is to deter false witnessing, of course, but in this case, in a kangaroo court Jesus was before, well, there was no such punishment laid out on all those who laid false witness, again because there was no respect for justice, it was just cold blooded murder.

And then I say to you, the timing of the trial is wrong. All trials, especially for cases of murder and for death sentence, they are to be conducted in the day time. But do you know what time this is? It's about midnight. It's after the Last Supper, after Jesus prayed, after Judas went to kiss Him, after the time travelled needed to bring to Annas and Caiaphas' place. It was midnight or past midnight.

And the reason why trials should never be conducted in those time slots is because people get groggy, sleepy, and you're not clear minded, but who cares? We are not here for justice, we are here for murder. And then for death sentence in the Jewish courts, there is this cooling period.

Now, we all need cooling period for important decisions. Elections is the same, we just had one. But cooling period is needed for death sentence, you say how long, at least 24 hours. To the Jew it's three days. But you know, a day or any part of the day is considered one full day. So the cooling period is a minimum of one full 24 hour period. But in the case of Jesus, He's sentenced at around midnight or so, and He will be crucified the very same morning, less than 12 hours, He would be on the cross.

So there was no regard for due process. And then finally, I would say to you, you would see that the charges that they laid on Jesus in the Jewish court are different charges that they laid on Him in the Roman court. They were just doing whatever was needed to put Jesus to death.

So this was all they wanted, a charge that He has uttered blasphemy, he deserves death, and they wanted to kill Him.

Now all this story is so that we appreciate something. We appreciate Acts 2:23 when the Bible says, this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of law of lawless men.

You see, this was all a murderous ploy. This was all the fruition of sin and evil and hatred against God and against the Son of God. Don't ever think that Jesus on the cross was what He deserved. Don't ever think that all the religious leaders, looking so pious were following due judicial process? No, it was all a scam, they make a mockery of the justice system to fulfill their blood thirsty lusts.

But at the same time, I hope that as you maybe are irritated and angered by the wickedness of these people who sentenced Jesus wrongly to death, you also remember Luke saying, Jesus was delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.

You say, how can it be, such gross injustice? Yes, wicked men, but this is exactly what God had desired and planned as well. You see in Isaiah 53, amazing, He was oppressed, He was afflicted, yet He opened not his mouth, like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, like a sheep that before its shearer is silent. So He opened not His mouth, remember that?

He could easily I said, this is a total travesty, this is such a mockery, you guys are not trying me justly. Jesus could have said that but he said nothing, because it was the will of God, that He will be like this lamb like this, sheep, would be silent, though oppressed and afflicted. By oppress oppression and judgment, He was taken away. This is a difficult phrase to interpret. But one way to look at it is by unjust judgment, He was taken away. It was not a fair trial.

And as for His generation, who considered that he was cut off, out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of My people, and they made His grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in His death, although He had done no violence and there was no deceit in his mouth.

So God prophesied through Isaiah centuries ago, that Jesus will be like that suffering servant, that spotless lamb, who will be sacrificed. And so Peter tells us, the reason why pre determined, it was the predeterminate counsel of God, the will of God, that Jesus would die on the cross, is exactly what Peter is saying here, for Christ also once suffered for sins, whose sins, his sins? There was none, no one could lay fault at Him, but He suffered for the sins of those who would believed on Him, the righteous for the unrighteous that He might bring us to God.

You see, this is the amazing message of the Bible. Jesus on the cross is not a picture of a criminal deserving of death, Jesus on the cross is a picture of amazing love, that He who lived a righteous life would lay it down so that the unrighteous might be forgiven, might be cleansed, might be reconciled with God.

This is the Gospel, the righteous for the unrighteous, His righteousness for your unrighteousness. And if you today, repent and believe in Jesus Christ, you can be saved, you will be saved, because that is what Jesus came to this world to do.

He did not come into this world, to be the example you follow in order to earn favor with God, no. He came into this world, to be the Lamb of God, to take away the sin of the world.

You know, something? Every body there in the Sanhedrin, in a court of law, every person they have called in to bear witness to Jesus was trying their very best to find some fault with Jesus. But you know what? Nobody could. It's amazing. Far from concluding that Jesus is guilty and sinful. We can only say when we read this passage, Jesus is holy and righteous. And this is the stunning thing, that righteousness, that perfection will be given to you. This is the marvelous, Good News of Jesus Christ.

I pray today, you would turn from sin and believe in Jesus. Now when He was reviled, the Bible says in 1st Peter 2, He did not revile in return. When He suffered, He did not threaten but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.

No, last week we looked at what it means to be meek, the strength under control, Jesus could have, He had every right to retaliate, but He didn't. He trusted God, He took the sufferings, the unfair, the unjust sufferings, He took it all. He trusted God in it and you say, what's the point here? Well, I want you to know that in 1st Peter, we are reading for to this, you have been called. This is verse 21. We were looking at verse 23, verse 23, is about Jesus, how He suffered unjustly, but He still willingly suffered unjustly.

Now in verse 21, we are seeing our call, for to this you have been called because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you might follow in His footsteps and what is it that we are to follow, that even though we might suffer unjustly, we are not to retaliate? We are not to take personal vengeance, we are not to bear grudges or harbor bitterness, we follow Jesus who Himself suffered unjustly, but entrusted Himself to God.

How can I apply this? Well back it up a little in verse 24. For what credit is it, if when you sin and are beaten for it you endure, but if you but if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is the gracious thing in the sight of God.

What this is saying is, if you should live a life that bears witness of the Gospel, and people persecute you for it, people hurt you. People malign you, people slander, abuse you because of it, don't take revenge. Love your enemies, do good to them. You say why, not because they deserve it, but because Jesus did exactly that, and we are called to follow in His footsteps.

You see our response to our enemies, to our persecutors is not centered on the worthiness of the person. Nor is it because we think that when we are good to them, they'll do good to us, no, our motivation is Gospel centered. We follow Jesus, Jesus did it, and we are called to follow in His footsteps.

And it's interesting, let me back it up a little bit more. Honor everyone, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the emperor. Servants be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the just and then it leads us to the passage we have just read about suffering well.

You know, I think it all ties up. If we understand how Jesus was unjustly tried and how He still remained meek and gentle and did not take personal vengeance, then I think that should govern the way we respond to the people around us. We don't take revenge, but we honor everyone. We love the brotherhood.

There'll be Christians, there'll be people in life who would offend you, upset you, do bad things to you, that would happen. But instead of being bitter towards them, instead of alienating yourself from them, the Bible says, honor everyone, love the brotherhood. They don't deserve it, well, Jesus deserves it. He will never treat me nice, that doesn't matter. Follow Jesus, that's your call. So honor everyone, love the brotherhood, fear God honor the emperor.

I close with how we should regard our government. I'm not suggesting we support any particular political party. But if God has installed this government, I pray, you would pray, you would obey, and you would pay your taxes, honor the government. They're not good, you say. Well, the Bible says do it, because that's what it means to follow Jesus Christ.

So this morning, I pray for some of you who are here with us, you do not know Jesus in your life, you will see here is the absolutely sinless, perfect Son of God, who went to the cross, not for His sins, but for you, for your sins, the righteous for the unrighteous. He who knew no sin was made sin for us, that you might be made the righteousness of God in Him. May you today repent and believe in the Lamb of God, even as He comes before the kangaroo court. And may we all as Christians follow Jesus well, through suffering, through injustice. May we entrust ourselves also to God, who one day will do all things, right.

Let's bow in a word of prayer together. Father, thank You today for Your Word. Thank You that even though people may laugh at Jesus who was dying on the cross. We understand the real reason, that it is because of love, that He who knew no sin would be made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

Oh Father, we pray that You have mercy to touch the hearts of those who would hear this message today that they might turn from sin and from themselves and their own self righteous works and help them to trust in Jesus Christ alone. So bless each one and I pray for some people who today are living in bitterness and unforgiveness and a desire for vengeance, those who feel aggrieved at sufferings, in the hands of unjust people. Oh Lord, help us to see Your Son, and help us to follow Him. May Your love, may Your Spirit, help us to follow Jesus well. Thank You, we pray all this, in Jesus Name. Amen. God Bless.

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