• Ewen Lin

Are you a blasphemer?


Matthew 26:57 Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. 58 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. 59 Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, 60 but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61 and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’” 62 And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” 63 But Jesus 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.” 64 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.” 65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66 What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” 67 Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, 68 saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”

This was the night before Jesus was killed. He had just finished dinner with his disciples when he was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane. When the soldiers came, the disciples ran. They abandoned Jesus at his darkest hour. What’s worse is they all knew this was coming. If you read the whole gospel account, all the warning signs were there. Jesus was attacking the religious establishment and sooner or later they will come down on him. The question is not if, but when and how. That’s what this passage shows us.


Jesus was treated unfairly


Right from the beginning we are told that nothing about this is fair and right. First of all, they arrest him at night. Then they bring him to the high priest’s house.

58 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.

Then they tried to steamroll the trial from indictment to verdict in just a few hours.

59 Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death,

This is not how the system works. And we actually know from historical evidence that there was a formal legal system back then – Jewish and Roman. None of this is legal. But that’s the point. They just want to see Jesus dead.


Jesus is silent when he was accused.


At last two came forward 61 and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’” 62 And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent.

Jesus is silent when accused. Why doesn’t Jesus defend himself? They twisted what he said in v.61. What he actually said was – you tear down the temple and I will raise it up again in three days. But Jesus doesn’t point that out. He remained silent. Should he have defended himself? Is this telling us that when we ourselves are accused that we should stay silent? I don’t think so.


I’m sure you guys watch enough tv to have seen or know enough about lawyers and their clients. Imagine you’re a lawyer and Jesus is your client. These guys are trying to pin a crime on Jesus. What would you advise Jesus to do? They bring 2 witnesses, let’s bring 3. Or deflect? Claim insanity like most murderers?


You might be surprised but actually the best thing Jesus can do at that point was to say nothing. This whole trial was a joke. We saw that already. The reason they went through all this trouble was to convince those who were still on the fence about Jesus and more importantly what will come next – the Romans. Only the Roman court and the Roman governor has the power to execute criminals. So, if they want Jesus killed, they’ll have to have something to bring to Rome.


So you have to kind of get the sense of what’s going on here. Caiaphas the high priest really needed something concrete he could use to pin on Jesus which will get him closer to the death penalty. This whole case rests upon whether or not he can bring a charge against Jesus. And that’s why all Jesus had to do was to say nothing. It’s obvious enough that Caiaphas was biased. Jesus doesn’t need to do anything and the case will come apart by morning. Jesus knows it. Caiaphas knows it. And now you and I know it. This is why Caiaphas reacted in verse 62.

62 And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” 63 But Jesus 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.”

His strategy isn’t working so far and so he switches tactics. A last ditch effort. He taunts Jesus. He tries to illicit a response from Jesus by invoking the presence of God. It’s sort of like saying don’t lie in front of God. Tell me did you eat the cookie or not. Well since you put it that way, I guess I’ll have to tell the truth. That’s not legal at all. If you were the lawyer this is where you stand and say objection. All Jesus had to do was say nothing. Don’t say anything and in 5 mins you’ll walk out of there. Jesus is silent when he was accused. But it worked. The next thing we see is that:

Jesus chooses condemnation when he could be free


64 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.” 65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66 What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.”

Can you guys see what just happened? Jesus chooses condemnation when he could be free. He doesn’t just answer the question, Jesus says the exact words that will lead ultimately to his death. This is a reference to Daniel chapter 7 which describes this Son of Man figure who will ultimately rule the world. Jesus gives them the ammunition they need. Because the Romans don’t care if some Jewish guy broke the sabbath or claims to be God. They’ll just laugh. But a claim to rule the world? Now we’re talking.


This is exactly what Caiaphas needed. What further witnesses do we need? And they condemn him to die. Notice how they accuse him of uttering blasphemy v.65. And do you know why they are so sure that Jesus is blaspheming and can’t be telling the truth? Look at verse 67.


67 Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, 68 saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”

They weren’t doing this just because they were cruel and wanted to hurt Jesus. That’s not entirely what’s going on here. What they’re doing is demonstrating that Jesus can’t be the Christ because look, he can’t even defend himself. The Messiah is this powerful figure that will fight and rule over his enemies. If you were one of the council members undecided about Jesus, sitting on the fence, what if Jesus really is the Messiah, then seeing Jesus treated the way he is will definitely convince you he is not the Messiah.

Jesus is silent when he was accused

Jesus chooses condemnation when he could be free

So here’s the question: what are we supposed to learn from this? What is this passage telling us? Answer: don’t blaspheme God. Be careful not to utter blasphemy.

And I know what you guys think: I’m not a blasphemer. What do you mean don’t blaspheme. I don’t do that. Right? But think about it. What this passage shows us is an absolutely radical picture of God that doesn’t square with the traditional Jewish understanding of God. Which is why it’s blasphemy. To the Jews back then, the Messiah is supposed to be the one who will come and save me from my enemies. Obviously that’s not going to be Jesus, who can’t even save himself.

Can you see? For the religious Jews, strength is power over our enemies. For Jesus, strength is power over ourselves and our sin. It’s a completely different picture of God. But unless you understand what Jesus was doing, you’ll just think it’s blasphemy because it doesn’t line up with what you think God is like. And there will always be this clash between the God we see in Jesus and the God that we picture in our own minds.

For example: why is there suffering in our lives? Hiding behind that question is the assumption that suffering is not the norm and shouldn’t be the norm. We don’t ask why is there good in our lives? We just accept it. But when suffering comes all of us go why God!? What’s going on? It’s this clash between what we wish God is like and what Jesus shows us God is really like. And when things don’t line up according to what we expect, the chief priest calls it blasphemy. We might call it something else, but it’s the same thing. We blaspheme God.

Can you guys see that in Jesus we get a picture of what God is like. Jesus shows us that God works His plan not out of suffering, but through suffering. What does that say about your expectations for your health? Jesus shows us that God gives grace to the humble and opposes the proud. What does that say about the way you treat the people around you? Jesus shows us that one day God will return and rule the world. What does that say about your career ambitions?

What do you guys see when you look at Jesus? Let’s pray.

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