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Jesus on Trial

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
August 13, 2023 12:01 am

Jesus on Trial

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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August 13, 2023 12:01 am

Though Jesus stood trial before high priests and governors, no true fault could be found in Him. Nevertheless, He was condemned to die. Continuing his expositional series in the gospel of Luke, today R.C. Sproul contrasts the treachery of the accusers with the sinless Son of God.

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If Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah of God, that is the most important truth ever revealed in human history.

It changes everything. What will it take for you to believe? That question should stop each one of us in our tracks because to reject Christ is to abandon all hope of salvation. This is the Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind. I'm your host, Nathan W. Bingham. Jesus was betrayed, arrested, and put on trial, and when presented with the Messiah, they rejected him as a blasphemer.

As R.C. Sproul continues his sermon series in Luke's Gospel, he takes us to that fateful night and sheds light on what was really taking place. Here's Dr. Sproul. We're going to continue now with our study of the Gospel according to Saint Luke, and we're in chapter 22. I will begin reading at verse 66 and read through chapter 23 verse 25. This is a lengthy account of the trials that were submitted to by the Lord Jesus Christ. I'll ask the congregation please to stand for the reading of the Word of God.

When they came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes, and they led Him away to their counsel. And they said, If you are the Christ, tell us. But He said to them, If I tell you, you will not believe.

And if I ask, you will not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God. So they all said, Are you the Son of God then? And He said to them, You say that I am. And then they said, What further testimony is now needed?

We have heard it from ourselves, from His own lips. And then the whole company of them arose and brought Him before Pilate. And they began to accuse Him, saying, We found this man misleading our nation, forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King. And Pilate asked Him, Are you the King of the Jews?

And He answered him, You have said so. Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, I find no guilt in this man. But they were urgent, saying, He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place. When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. And when Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see Him, because he had heard about Him and was hoping to see some sign done by Him.

So he questioned Him at some length, but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing Him. And Herod with his soldiers treated Him with contempt and mocked Him. And then arraying Him in splendid clothing, he sent Him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people. He said to them, You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him.

Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. I will therefore punish and release him. But they all cried out together, Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas, a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. Pilate addressed them one more time, desiring to release Jesus. But they kept shouting, Crucify, crucify him. The third time he said to them, Why, what evil has he done?

I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him. But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demands should be granted.

He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked. But he delivered Jesus over to their will. Again, this record comes to us through the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, and by His supervision it is the unvarnished Word of God.

Please receive it as such and be seated. Let us pray. Our Father and our God, how can we possibly comprehend the depth of this treachery and injustice that was committed by men in positions of authority against our Lord and against our Savior? We ask now that Your Holy Spirit will not only instruct us, but convict us of our own complicity in this human act of treason. For we ask it in Jesus' name.

Amen. His name was Annas. Historians have indicated that Annas was one of the most influential Jews of the first century. He had reigned as the high priest over Israel from 6 A.D. to 15 A.D. Now as you probably already know, when one was elected to be the high priest over Israel, that office was held for life. But in this case, Annas ran afoul of the Roman authorities and was deposed by the predecessor of Pontius Pilate and stripped of his title of the high priest and was replaced by Caiaphas, his son-in-law. Presumably, together they lived in a magnificent palace in which the first part of the trial of Jesus took place. Even though he had been deposed by the Romans, the Jewish people still considered that Annas was their high priest.

And so they gave to him the authority that they believed that office entitled him to hold. Obviously, it was Annas and Caiaphas who together with others conspired against Jesus and sent out the order for his arrest under the cloak of darkness near the Garden of Gethsemane after they had agreed to pay a price to Judas for his betrayal. They arrested him at night lest they would rouse the public who held Jesus in high esteem and popularity.

And so they secreted him away under the guise of soldiers with clubs and swords, and he was brought before Annas and Caiaphas at the palace. So here, a very strange thing was taking place, that there were two high priests who were involved in the trial of Jesus. Oh, I'm sorry. Excuse me. I beg your pardon.

I made a mistake about that, and I apologize. There were not two high priests involved in the trial of Jesus. Clearly, there were three. There was Annas, who was really the high priest emeritus, and there was Caiaphas, who was the current high priest. These two shared the office of high priests on the earth, but before Annas and Caiaphas stood the great high priest, the supreme high priest, the high priest whose order of priesthood was greater than that that had been received from the descendants of Levi and Aaron. This man was a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. He was the heavenly high priest, who in this ironic moment in history was placed in judgment under the authority of those who were high priests temporarily. Well, Jesus fulfilled the prophecy as told by the book of Hebrews, where God said, Thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Well, there were other differences. The earthly high priest on the annual day of atonement would offer a lamb without blemish to be sacrificed for the blood to be sprinkled on the altar, which was a symbol of temporary atonement. But the great high priest before Annas and Caiaphas was himself the lamb without blemish, and he didn't offer another animal to be sacrificed temporarily. But he was both the object and subject of the high priesthood in that he not only gave a lamb, he was the lamb who was slain for the atonement of his people's sin.

But now, he's dragged in ignominy, escorted by soldiers into the presence of Annas and Caiaphas, and they began to interrogate Jesus. And they said to him, If you're the Christ, no more hush-hush about this, no more messianic secret, no more revealing it privately to your disciples, and have them say, Tell no man. If you're the Christ, then say so. Speak up.

Tell us. And he said to them, If I tell you, you will not believe. You haven't believed it since day one. You haven't believed it since I proclaimed the kingdom of God. You haven't proclaimed it when I've been authenticated by the Father by miracle after miracle after miracle after miracle. What will it take for you to believe that I am the Messiah?

Stop right there. What will it take for you to believe that Jesus was the Messiah? If Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah of God, that is the most important truth ever revealed in human history.

It changes everything. Everything in your life is changed by the truth that Jesus of Nazareth was the appointed Messiah. But He knew these men who were His judges, and He knew that they would not believe. And so He said, If I ask you, you won't answer. And now listen to what Jesus says to the high priest, but from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God. As soon as you're done with your work, as soon as you hand me over to the Gentiles, as soon as you secure what you want, the death penalty against me. And as soon as I am executed, I will ascend to the right hand of God, which is the seat of cosmic authority.

And in a very short time, you will stand before me as I'm standing before you this day to be judged eternally. What a warning that was for Annas and Caiaphas, who in a very short period of time were shocked when they woke up and faced the judgment of Jesus, the Son of Man. So when they heard this, they were furious, and they all said, Oh, so you're the Son of God. Jesus said, You said it.

So they said, That's all we need to hear. There's no further testimony need, never mind that they had violated every rule and set down for Jewish courts in terms of prohibited to have trials at night and on feast days and all of that, and to have perjured witnesses assembled in that point. They were still trying to get a confession from Jesus. And when He said that they would see Him on the right hand of God, that was all they needed to hear. They considered it blasphemy.

They said, We've heard from your own lips. So they all arose and brought Him to Pilate. You know, of course, that the Romans, when they subjugated foreign nations that had been conquered, they allowed an unusual latitude of self-rule to those local governments and allowed the people to practice their preferred religions.

They had only a few restrictions, the chief of which was that no judgment of the local government could exercise the death penalty without the warrant of Rome. So the hands of the Jewish leaders of the Sanhedrin were tied, and it was necessary for them to deliver Jesus, as the Scriptures had said, to the Gentiles, to the aliens, to Pontius Pilate. And so they came to Him saying, We found this man misleading our nation, forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ. You know, we looked at the law of God today as we normally do in our custom, and we saw the commandment against perjury, against bearing false witness against our neighbor. But here they were bringing false witness against the Son of God. They said, He doesn't allow us to pay our taxes. That wasn't true. He had clearly defined His position on paying taxes to Caesar, to rendering to Caesar the things that were Caesar's. But of all the false charges that were leveled against Jesus, there's one that stands out, head and shoulders, above all the rest.

Listen to what they said. We found this man misleading our nation. There are leaders, and there are leaders.

Leaders are placed in a position for other people to follow their lead. Jesus called His disciples to Himself with the simple command, Follow Me. And now, the authorities before Pilate are saying He was misleading our people. So, beloved leaders in office mislead the people all the time.

Just read the paper. But not once did Jesus Christ ever mislead a single soul. The first year I was converted as a Christian, I used to meet with some classmates for prayer, Bible study, and we would sing hymns. And one of my favorite hymns, the first year of my conversion, was the simple hymn, Where He Leads Me, I Will Follow. I could hear my Savior calling, saying, Follow, Follow Me. And I would sing that hymn with gusto, with gusto, with commitment and singular devotion. What I wanted to do more than anything in my life was to follow Jesus.

Wherever You lead me, I will follow. Every sin that I've ever committed was a result of my not following Jesus. How many times in my life have I failed to follow Jesus? We don't follow Jesus when we sin, and we sin because we don't want to follow Jesus. The world doesn't want to follow Jesus. Our culture doesn't want to follow Jesus. Our government doesn't want to follow Jesus. Whoever held a higher view of the sanctity of human life than Jesus? Well, the blood of sixty million aborted babies scream after Him every day.

Whoever had a higher view of the sanctity of marriage than Jesus? But where He leads us, we don't want to go. I pray the 23rd Psalm, He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. The only path that He has ever led anybody on was the path of righteousness. But that's not our natural path. That's not the road or the way we want to go.

We want to do it our way, my way, not His way. But they said, He's misleading the people. That's His crime. And so Pilate subjected Him to a rigorous interrogation. Pontius Pilate was procurator of Jerusalem. He wasn't the emperor. He wasn't a member of the Senate of Rome. He was a low-ranking official, a petty bureaucrat, a member of the JV squad assigned to one of the most unpopular posts in all of government by the Roman officials as procurator over this rebellious nation of defeated and vanquished Jews. Philo, the philosopher and theologian of Hellenistic Judaism, wrote a letter describing Pontius Pilate. And in that letter he said, Pilate was a man who was inflexible, obstinate, cruel, and unjust, frequently waiving the right of habeas corpus, and would condemn people without even a hearing. He was notorious for his cruelty, and that's the reason why ultimately he was removed from his office by Rome, because even by Roman standards, Pilate was considered abysmal. But we ask, why does his name appear in the Nicene Creed and in the Apostles' Creed? Why don't we read, he was born and so on, suffered under Annas and Caiaphas, or suffered under Herod Agrippa? No, it's always suffered under Pontius Pilate.

In the ancient world, it was understood that the ruler of the vicinity had a providential responsibility. As a representative of God himself, he didn't just speak as a private individual, he was considered a persona publica, a public person whose dictates and whose decisions were considered to be the judgments of the gods, or from the Christian perspective of God Himself. And after the examination, the persona publica, Pontius Pilate, said, I find no fault or guilt in him. These charges are false.

I'm going to let him go. And why didn't he find any fault in him? Because Jesus was so clever that he was able to conceal his misdemeanors and felonies for which he was charged. Now the reason why he couldn't find any fault in Jesus is he would need the lamp of Diogenes to find a fault in Jesus, because there weren't any faults in Jesus. This is the Lamb without blemishes.

This was the only sinless person ever to walk upon this planet. No wonder he couldn't find any fault in him, because there wasn't any fault in him. How long would it take for Pilate to find a fault in me? How long would it take for him to find a fault in you? Wouldn't take much.

Wouldn't need a bright lamp at all. The blemishes are plain right before your eyes. But look as hard as he could, and Pilate found no fault in Jesus. Well, now they're really mad.

And so they continue with their charges. And they were urgent, saying, He stirs up the people, teaching them throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place. What did you say? Galilee? Oh, Galilee.

Who? Pilate's off the hook. Pilate had been appointed as procurator over Samaria and over Judea, but his jurisdiction didn't go to Galilee. That was the province of Herod Agrippa, the tetrarch who was responsible for the beheading of John the Baptist, who was haunted till the end of his days about that particular crime. And he had heard all about Jesus. And Herod had come down from Galilee for the feast, for the Passover. So he was here, right there in Jerusalem. And Pilate says, Hey, go see Herod. Take him to Herod. He's the tetrarch.

Let him make the judgment. And when Herod saw Jesus, we read, he was very glad for his long desire to meet him, because he had heard all about it, and he was hoping to see some sign. Jesus, show me your stuff. Boy, am I glad to meet you. I've heard so much about you. Your name is on the lips of every person in Galilee, and yet I've never laid eyes on you before. Here's a glass of water. Change it in a wine for me, will you?

Will you take a walk on the water for me? Will you give sight to the blind man, or the hearing to the deaf? Come on, Jesus, raise somebody from the dead. I'll go get the bones of John the Baptist.

You can raise him. But Jesus opened not his mouth. And so, having run out of questions, Herod mocked him, arraigned him in the clothing of royalty, and sent him back to Pilate. Oh, here he comes again. And once again, Pilate interrogates him, and once again he says, I see no fault in him.

For then the ultimate statement of the persona publica in Latin, Pilate, presents Jesus before his accusers, and he says, aca homo, behold, the man. When I was a kid, I went to high school in a steel mill town in the Monongahela Valley outside of Pittsburgh. Every town along the Monongahela River boasted of a steel mill of their own, Glassport, McKeesport, Clerton, Monongahela, Manassan, and so was Duquesne. And right up the river was a small mill town called Donora. And this baseball player, he was an incredible baseball player, all-fame baseball player, grew up in Donora. He didn't play for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

He played for the St. Louis Cardinals. But every time Stan Mujal came to town with the Cardinals, I was making sure that I could go to force field so I could watch the Donora Dandy, where he's also called the Music Box. Stan Mujal, with this extremely unusual batting stance, had this peek-a-boo stance where he stood way back in the batter's box and crunched up and peeked over his shoulder.

We all tried it as kids. It didn't work, but it worked for Stan. But his greatest sobriquet, the greatest accolade that he was given, was simply the statement, Stan the Man. Well, Stan Mujal was one of the greatest baseball players ever to put on a uniform, and he was many things, the Donora Dandy, the Music Box, all of that. But whatever else he was, he was not the man. No one looked at Stan Mujal and said, echa homo. That was reserved for Jesus, the new Adam, the one who is the perfect species of humanity, the one who, the author of Hebrews says, is the brightness of his glory, the express image of his person, the new humanity, and all that humanity was created to be is seen in Jesus.

Echa homo. And so, with greater urgency, they still screamed for the blood of Jesus. And Pilate offered a trade.

He's going to hold an election. He said, it's our custom to release to you somebody that's condemned to death, and I will free a prisoner. And he wanted to free Jesus because he found no fault in Him. And he said, I offer you another man, an insurrectionist, a traitor, a murderer, whose name was Barabbas. What does that name mean? Barabbas? Ironically, the name meant the Son of the Father. When the Son of the Father was standing next to Barabbas, and the election was held, they all voted for Barabbas.

Give us Barabbas. What about Jesus? And with one voice, they hollered, crucify Him. Crucify Him. These weren't the people that were screaming hosanna on Palm Sunday. This was this mob of conspirators and the high priests and the Pharisees and these guys in the square screaming for the blood of Jesus. Crucify Him.

And Pilate, in the supreme act of cowardice, acquiesced to the cries of the people and did what the people wanted, but not what he knew was the right thing to do. And so, he turned them over. He gave them Jesus, and he said, take Him. And he went to a basin, and he took the water, and he washed his hands.

My hands are clean. You take Him. And they did. That was R.C. Sproul on this Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind, walking us through the trial of Jesus, learning about some of the surrounding context, like why both Annas and Caiaphas were involved in the trial, and what history records about Pilate is just one example of why studying the Scriptures is important to understand the meaning more fully.

And R.C. Sproul can help you do that in his expositional commentary on Luke's Gospel. With your donation of any amount, you can request a copy of the eBook edition of this commentary to help you in your study. Simply visit But this offer is today only, so be sure to visit while there's still time. Jesus has been betrayed, arrested, denied, and now tried. Next Sunday, R.C. Sproul will preach on the crucifixion of Christ, so join us then here on Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-13 02:47:15 / 2023-08-13 02:57:30 / 10

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