TRUTH AND JUSTICE?
Lord, thank You for what You suffered on our behalf.
Read MATTHEW 26:57–68
Jesus Before the Sanhedrin
57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.
59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.
Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”
62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent.
The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?”
“He is worthy of death,” they answered.
67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Jesus, ever truthful, seals his fate in verse 64 by not dodging the demand presented to him in verse 63.
The powerful religious leaders are not interested in truth but rather in eliminating a threat to their authority. Matthew’s main interest is to demonstrate their malice and disregard for truth and justice. Injustice is just as prevalent today, as recent high-profile court cases have shown. In less-publicized trials, members of oppressed minority groups daily suffer injustice, not only at the hands of brutal regimes but also in western democracies. Even the church is capable of acting unjustly and, like the Sanhedrin, giving her actions a veneer of theological respectability.
Jesus stands alone before a hostile court, an outsider, an insignificant upstart from rebellious and disorderly Galilee, a self-styled prophet and critic of the religious establishment. With his growing popularity among the rural lower classes, his radical teachings have reached metropolitan Jerusalem. He has the distinct potential to create popular dissent, an unrest that the religious leadership in Jerusalem is anxious to suppress in order to maintain its own favored status with the occupying Roman power. Christians should remember this and always be concerned about false arrest, imprisonment and execution. We should be alert even when rising crime rates prompt plausible demands for immediate, mandatory sentencing, aware that so-called swift justice can also serve unjust and evil ends.
The members of the Sanhedrin cannot be excused as pawns in an eternal plan. They are making their own choices and are responsible for their own actions. Yet in a wider sense, they are acting in a court drama far greater than they may understand. The Son of God is standing before them facing execution not just to serve their selfish and small-minded ends, but to bear the guilt of the sins of the whole world.
What role do we have in acting justly and in serving others while we long for God to set up his perfect kingdom?
God of mercy and justice, we pray for our political leaders. May they have the integrity and courage to act justly rather than in self-interest.