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Jesus: Despised and Rejected (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
March 14, 2024 4:00 am

Jesus: Despised and Rejected (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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March 14, 2024 4:00 am

It may seem like Christianity has had its day and is fading into obscurity or that Jesus has become easier to dismiss and reject. This isn’t the first time Jesus has withstood such a challenge, though. Hear more on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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Truth for Life
Alistair Begg

In our day it can seem to some like the claims of Christ have become easier to dismiss or reject.

Christianity is fading into obscurity. Well, today on Truth for Life we'll see that this isn't the first time Jesus has withstood a challenge like this. Alistair Begg is teaching from Luke chapter 22. We're looking today at verse 63. To Timothy 3 and verse 14, writing to a young pastor in the face of all kinds of contamination out with the church and all kinds of confusion within it, Paul writes, But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. We pray, Father, that with our Bibles open before us, you will come to our help, that you will remove from us every distraction and enable us so to think on these things, that the entrance of your Word may bring light into our darkness. We seek this in Christ's name.

Amen. Anyone reading this particular narrative for the first time might be forgiven if they came to the conclusion that the mission of Jesus was in a tailspin. Because even in the verses of chapter 22, everything seems to be hurtling towards the ground, spinning out of control. Luke has described for us Jesus agonizing in the garden, and at the same time the disciples succumbing to the exhaustion that was brought on by sorrow. And then we discover that one of his inner circle betrays him, and another one denies him.

And then everyone else desserts him. Yes, I think it's fair to suggest that anyone who doesn't know the end of the story reading this for the first time could safely begin to draw the conclusion that Jesus and his disciples had had their day in the sun, as it were. And now the darkness, which Jesus said is reigning in this hour at the end of verse 53, seems to be an impenetrable darkness, and the light is apparently almost extinguished. The pendulum seems to have swung very much in the favor of those who are opposing Christ. And it seems as though that everybody is in on the game, as it were.

Everyone's jumping in on the action. We considered last Sunday evening how, in the declension of Peter, we had the background information to the arrest in the darkening evening shadows. And in verse 63, when the men who were guarding Jesus take him into their custody, they decide that they'll just mock and beat him and blindfold him and abuse him.

I actually made notes, headings in my own notes, to try and guide me through this section. And the first heading that I wrote down regarding verses 63 and 4 and 5 was simply, Cruel Clowning. Cruel clowning.

Because that is the activity that is described for us here. Now, most of us are not unfamiliar with this kind of thing. If we went to school, and most of us went to school, I'm not sure I can speak authoritatively concerning girls' activities, although I have observed girls being particularly unkind to one another, more often with language than with bodily blows. But boys in particular understand this kind of cruel clowning around. And some of us remember with shame the fact that we were involved in this kind of cruel clowning. Some unfortunate, disadvantaged figure becomes the butt of the class jokes, becomes the figure who is the object of insults and the slapping and the shoving. And the poor boy is almost afraid to come to school on a daily basis because it would seem that his whole existence has to do with being a kind of punching bag, being the butt end of the aggravation of those unfortunate and distasteful bullies who decided that they would use him as a figure of fun. That, of course, is distasteful activity at any time. And it dreadfully and definitely appears so here, doesn't it? Could we imagine that these individuals, the soldiers, were just bored, and boredom was the incubator in which their base behavior was hatched?

Possibly. And even so, it wouldn't excuse them in any way. They make Jesus the focus of a game. They slap him around. And then, verse 64, they blindfold him, and apparently they've discovered that he's been out there proclaiming that he is the prophet, and so they said, Well, why don't we blindfold him, and then you go ahead and hit him, and then we'll ask him, Who hit you?

And if he apparently knows things beyond the ken of others, then he should be able to answer that. And so they blindfolded him, and they demanded, Prophesy! Who was it hit you?

And who hit you that time? And verse 65 seems to suggest that Luke has drawn a veil over this bad activity. It was as if this was just the start of their insulting behavior. Now, when you put this little scenario here in the context of what we read in the other Gospels—in Matthew and in Mark and in John's Gospel—then when you put all of the record together, it conjures up a graphic picture of undiluted hatred.

It's really what it is. I mean, there's no way to suggest that these individuals were just being playful, that they were somehow or another indifferent to Jesus. No, it is that they were despising and rejecting him. Unwittingly, they were actually fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah, which is familiar to some of us who know our Bibles, in Isaiah 53 and to others of us, perhaps simply through the work of Handel, where at least on an annual basis we hear these words, he was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrow and acquainted with suffering, and as one from whom men hide their faces.

We didn't give him any sense of esteem at all. That's what's taking place here. And have you noticed that the response of Jesus is just silent? Of course, in Isaiah 53 the prophecy goes on, he was led like a sheep to the slaughter—dumb before all that was crushing in upon him. And Peter, when he finally writes his letter, he summarizes it. He says, when they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate.

Yes, it is, isn't it? Just an illustration of cruel clowning. It's funny, isn't it, how boys grow up, and they don't grow up? How you get in the locker room with a group of men, still the same stupid stories, still the same filthy language, still the same boisterous clowning, still the same empty stupidity. You think, if education did it, that by the time a man reached a certain age, he would have all that behind him. He would have been able to deal with all of the imperfections and insecurities.

He would have been able to tackle all that silly stuff from his youth. But somehow or another, he looks in the mirror, and he's still a silly boy. He's still guilty of the clowning.

He's still capable of the cruelty. And as darkness gives way to dawn, the dawn that is described there in verse 66, so the cruel clowning is replaced by corrupt scheming. That's my second heading.

At daybreak, the council, that is the Sanhedrin, the highest-ranking court of the Jews, they decide to waste no time in conducting their formal interrogation. Now, I want you to try and catch the pace of things here. I want you to try and get a handle on the sense of urgency with which they're moving things forward.

And I wanted to move through the material more quickly than perhaps I would in order to reinforce this fact. Luke's account here is succinct. It's very clear.

It's punchy. It's brief. It leaves out much of the material that is covered in the other Gospels. That is why some of you reading this will say, Well, what about the investigation or the interrogation that involved Annas? Or what about when Jesus was brought before Caiaphas?

Well, Luke doesn't handle that. The other Gospel writers have filled in the blanks. And we know from reading the parallel passages that during the night, under the cover of darkness, all of these different things were taking place. That there was, if you like, a rush to judgment on the part of the Jewish authorities.

They could see now that things were tipping in their favor. And if they moved quickly and they moved directly, then perhaps they would be able to bring their evil plot to fruition, and they could be done with this Jesus of Nazareth once and for all. Now, as the Jewish court, they recognized, too, that they were unable to conduct any kind of legitimate investigation after darkness had fallen. It was illegal.

You couldn't pronounce a sentence of a trial that had taken place during the day after the evening shadows had fallen. And so all of the machinations that had been going on during the night needed somehow or another to be formalized and legitimized. And so now they seek to do something very improper but to do it in a very proper way.

And that's why at daybreak they said, We'll get together as soon as sun is up. Because, remember, the high priests were conspiring with the Jewish council. They were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. This is very, very important for us to keep in mind. We should not think that they are investigating Jesus here with the prospect of faith.

No, they are conducting, as it were, a sham interrogation in order that they might bring to fruition their evil designs. Can I just pause and acknowledge that there are all kinds of ways to come and consider Jesus, and some of you are here this morning, perhaps because someone has suggested to you that although you've been a religious person, although you've known something of the Bible in your past, that you have never really considered who Jesus is and why he came. And so you're here, and you're hoping that something along the journey of the day or in the reading that you're able to pick up or in the things that you listen to or the conversations you have, that some of these things or all of them together will begin to help you to understand who Jesus is.

You have a genuine sense of intellectual integrity. You want to know about him as a historical figure. You want to know where he fits within the framework of God's revelation. You want to find out if he really is the Savior for the sins of men and women. But some of you are here, and you're conducting your own investigation, and you haven't the slightest intention of believing in Jesus.

You just want to get as much information as you can to set him aside, to disregard him, to despise him, and to reject him. Well, I want to encourage you that the Bible will cater, as it were, to our intellectual integrity. You can wrestle with it.

You can pull it apart. You can investigate it. But I don't want to offer you any encouragement that Jesus is going to pander to your intellectual arrogance. And these individuals were arrogant. You'll notice that although they are conducting some kind of trial, nobody brings a charge. You would expect that somebody would stand up as the prosecuting counsel and say, Jesus of Nazareth, we've brought you here today, and the formal charge against you is.

But no, they just simply ask him to incriminate himself. Tell us, are you the Christ, they said? And Jesus responds very interestingly, doesn't he? Look there in verse 67.

If I tell you, you will not believe me. And then into verse 68, and if I asked you, you would not answer. Is Jesus here missing an evangelistic opportunity? If you are the Christ, they said, tell us. No, he understands their motivation.

They're simply looking for an excuse to get him over to Pilate and have him dead. So Jesus says, well, if I answered yes, you wouldn't believe me. And if I asked you what you meant by your question, you wouldn't even answer me. Now, this wasn't an unfamiliar dialogue. You only need to go back two chapters to chapter 20, and they had a similar tête-à-tête there. Chapter 20 and verse 3. Well, actually, verse 2. Again, it's the same group—the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders—they all come up to him, and they said, tell us by what authority you're doing these things.

Who gave you this authority? And Jesus replies ad homina. He replies with a question. He says, I will also ask you a question.

Tell me. John's baptism wasn't from heaven or from men. And they realized that he had them. And Luke says they discussed it among themselves, and they said, if we save from heaven, he will ask, then why didn't you believe him? But if we save from men, all the people will stone us because they're persuaded that John was a prophet. So they said, oh, we don't know where he was from. And Jesus said, well, then I'm not going to tell you by what authority I do these things. It's almost funny, actually.

It's very, very clever. You see, they're trying to jam him into a corner. Jesus knows. You can't jam Jesus into a corner.

He may choose to jam you into one and extricate you from it, but you cannot jam him into a corner. Come on now, incriminate yourself. Are you the Christ? Well, if I say yes, you won't believe, and if I ask you why you're asking, you won't answer me. But I'll tell you one thing, he says, verse 69.

I'll give you this information. I'm going to tell you right now that henceforth the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God. That's an interesting response, isn't it? It doesn't mean very much to us, this morning, nonetheless we know our Bibles. If we know our Bibles, then we know that the phrase, the Son of Man, was a favorite self-designation on the part of Christ.

And these intelligent and well-versed religious officials were able to pick up very quickly what Jesus was saying. Because what he was doing was he was reaching back into the prophecy of Daniel, right around the seventh chapter in particular, and he was bringing this back into a moment in time, out of their history, and reminding them of this great figure who would emerge, who would reign forever and ever. That he was going to be the judge of the living and the dead, and they had this little trial going on, a flimflam affair, and he says, Well, the Son of Man is going to be seated at the right hand of Almighty God. Well, verse 70, he said, Okay then, you're saying that you're the Son of God.

Now, you see, context allows us to understand what's going on, doesn't it? Luke expects us to be able to fill in the blanks. Because for us, for somebody to say, Jesus say, The Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of Almighty God, we might say, What? But they say, Well then, what you're saying is that you're the Son of God.

What you're doing is you're taking that designation out of Daniel, and you're applying it to yourself. Jesus says, Well, I wouldn't necessarily put it that way, but since you have, then I can't deny it. You say, Well, that's not what it says in my Bible. It says, You are right in saying I am. And that's fine, that's okay. But there is a sense in which what Jesus is doing here is saying to them, When you make these statements concerning me, I know what you're trying to do with them.

So when I accept what you are saying about me, I am not at the same time accepting what you're trying to do with them. But this was all they needed. Why do we need any more testimony? What are they suggesting? That they were going to call all these witnesses, and the witnesses would come up and incriminate Jesus?

I don't think they really had anybody at all. Why do we need any more testimony? That's it. We've heard it from his own lips. Well, no surprise, because remember, from chapter 9, Jesus had told, verse 22, he had told his followers that the elders and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were going to reject him. And now it seems they've got all the evidence that they require. Not that the Roman authorities are going to be particularly impressed with this. After all, why would the Roman authorities be concerned with this kind of intramural dispute? Why would they be concerned about the charge of blasphemy in relationship to Jesus of Nazareth? No, these individuals here are going to have to come up with a way of putting the facts together to convince Pilate in particular that this Jesus of Nazareth is a threat to the Roman authorities and therefore should be put to death. You see, they were also smart enough to recognize that they could not bring about the death of Jesus by the condemnation of a Jewish court.

They did not possess that authority. And therefore, they had to bring it to the Roman authorities in order that Roman law, combined with Jewish law, would set Christ to his death. So the scheming gives way in chapter 23 to a classic example of what we might refer to as political maneuvering—first of all, on the part of the Sanhedrin, and then on the part of Pilate. Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate, and they began to accuse him, saying, We have found this man subverting our nation. Notice how they work together. You say, Well, is there any surprise in this?

Well, actually, there is. Because this company of individuals who were now united in their desire to see Jesus put to death were not big buddies. There were all kinds of declensions and divisions among them, not least of all, perhaps classically, between the Sadduceean party and the Pharisee party. And they disagreed radically over points of doctrine. In fact, they detested each other. But suddenly, those who do not like each other are united in a shared hatred for somebody else. Funny how that works, isn't it?

You can see it even in an office. Two people that never discuss things with one another, people who do not get along with one another. When the opportunity comes to topple somebody that it would be in the best interest of both of them to topple, then they're prepared to bury the hatchet of their own animosity in order that they might unite to bring down this figure whom they both despise.

And that's what's happening here. They were prepared to set aside their differences and with subtle cunning and abominable deceitfulness to make sure that Jesus was put to death. Is it much of a reach to suggest to you this morning that the same thing continues to happen on the stage of world religions? Isn't it interesting that one of the only points of unanimity that you can find on the stage of world religion is a unified hatred of Jesus of Nazareth? A hatred of Jesus of Nazareth. Not necessarily a hatred of organized Christianity. Not necessarily a hatred of formalized Roman Catholicism or a hatred of Protestant liberalism, but a hatred of Jesus of Nazareth. Of all things, we will not tolerate this Christ who stands on the stage of human history and says, I am the way and the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father but by me.

We will have none of that. And those who actually are at loggerheads with one another today unite in order, as it were, to crucify Christ all over again and to drive him from the place of influence and power, which is his by sovereign right. You're listening to Truth for Life, and that is Alistair Begg with a message he's titled, Jesus Despised and Rejected.

We'll hear more tomorrow. If you'd like to spend more time reflecting on God's amazing plan of redemption, let me point you to a 48-day devotional called, O Sacred Head Now Wounded. This is a book that provides daily readings that are organized a bit like a Sunday worship service. Each day you're guided through scripture readings, prayers, hymns, creeds, catechisms, all focused on the risen Christ and his saving work for all who believe. This is a great book for personal study or to use with your family or in a small group. Ask for your copy of the book, O Sacred Head Now Wounded, when you give a donation to support the Bible Teaching Ministry of Truth for Life. You can donate through the mobile app or online at slash donate or call us at 888-588-7884. I'm Bob Lapine. Tomorrow we'll find out how it's possible to believe certain things about the gospel and yet still remain unconverted. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-14 05:22:12 / 2024-03-14 05:31:12 / 9

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