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Sunday, February 02, 2020

"He Is Worthy" [Matt's Messages]

“He Is Worthy”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
February 2, 2020 :: Matthew 26:57-68

We are following Jesus through the events of that crucial last week, and now last day, just hours really, before His crucifixion.

We have slowed down to carefully consider everything that Matthew tells us about Jesus during these crucial last hours.

How He predicted His betrayal.
How He planned His Passover with His disciples.
How He made the Passover meal all about Himself.
How He sang a hymn with His disciples and went out to the Mount of Olives.
How He predicted His disciples would desert Him and Peter would deny Him.
How He prayed facedown in the Garden and pleaded to be able to reject the cup of God’s wrath.
How He said, “Not my will but yours be done.”

How He got up to face His betrayer.
How He received a traitor’s kiss.
How He refrained from calling down 72,000 angels to rescue Himself.
So the Scriptures would be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way.

How He was arrested by those who had no right.

And how His disciples fled into the night.

I’ve warned you; it only gets worse.

This is a dark story of injustice.

And the injustice has only just begun.

Because now Jesus is going to trial.

And everything about this trial is wrong.

There is no justice in this trial.

And everything about this trial is wrong.

They get everything wrong about Jesus.
They go about it the wrong way.
They gather evidence in the wrong way.
They misjudge the evidence they get.
And their verdict is all wrong.

Everything about this trial is wrong.

And yet Jesus goes through it all.

Because He is fulfilling the will of the Lord.

And because, ironically, He is worthy.

“He Is Worthy.”

I’m taking these three words for the title of this message from verse 66 in the NIV.

The Sanhedrin get it almost right, but they should have stopped right there.

“He is worthy.”

That’s not exactly what they say, is it? But it’s what they should have said.

I don’t know about you, but I love fictional stories about innocent people who are arrested for a crime they didn’t commit.

When I was growing up, it was the A-Team. They said that every week on the television show, that “in 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime the didn't commit.” And now they are fugitives.

And then I discovered “The Fugitive” itself, the TV show from the 1960's. Dr. Richard Kimble falsely accused of killing his wife when it was really a one-armed man! And so now he’s on the run.

I don’t know about you, but I love those fictional stories.

But I hate stories like that in real life.

People who are falsely accused of a crime?

People who are false convicted of a crime.

They are innocent but found guilty.

There is a movie out right now called “Just Mercy” based on a bestselling book. It’s about man named Walter McMillian, who was sentenced to die for the murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite the existence of evidence proving his innocence.

It took 7 years of hard work from an attorney named Bryan Stevenson to see McMillian’s conviction overturned and him be exonerated. I read the book last year.

Reading about those kinds of real injustice just make me sick to the stomach.

Well, this trial is not fiction. It’s the second kind. It’s real.

And there has never been a more unjust trial nor unjust conviction.

There are actually several parts to Jesus’ trial, but there are two main phases: the local Jewish phase and the imperial Roman phase. Today, we’re just going to look at the Jewish phase in verses 57 through 68.

Because it was the Jews who had Jesus arrested.

They have been conspiring for some time (26:3), but now they have found an accomplice in Judas Iscariot one of the Twelve who betrayed Him.

Judas led the armed crowd to the Garden of Gethsemane, identified their target with a kiss, and then stepped out of the way while they grabbed our Lord and bundled Him off to Caiaphas. Verse 57.

“Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 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.”

This is the Jewish phase of Jesus’ trial.

They hauled Jesus to the high priest and the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Supreme Court.

These are Jesus’ enemies.

They have been plotting against Him for some time.

And He has been publicly condemning them, especially this week.

Remember chapter 23?

When Jesus said to beware of these guys?
When Jesus said that they were fakes and snakes?
When Jesus said that they sat in Moses’ seat but were hypocrites who were filling up the measure of the sins of their forefathers?
When Jesus said that they were storing up judgment?
When Jesus said that their house would be left desolate?

Yeah, the same guys.

That’s who are Jesus’ judges this night.

Do you think the deck is stacked against Him?

It’s interesting that Peter has snuck along at a distance to see what’s going to happen.

He has just cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest, but here he is a few minutes later sitting with that same temple guard in the courtyard.

He obviously didn’t think he was identifiable or he wouldn’t have gone. Because we’re going to see next time that he isn’t there to stand up for Jesus.

But he does want to know what’s going to happen.

He’s hiding there in plain sight.

Now, again, everything about this trial is wrong.

For example, they shouldn’t have been meeting at night.

According to the rules of the Sanhedrin written down years later, they shouldn’t have met in the night, and they should have taken at least two days to deliberate and deliver a sentence.

But they weren’t there for justice. V.59

“The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death.”

They weren’t looking for the truth!

They were looking for an excuse to justify killing Him.

The Sanhedrin was made of 71 Jewish leaders, and it took a quorum of 23 to decide the big cases like this one.

So, when it says, “the whole Sanhedrin,” it means at least those 23 that it takes.

Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were both members of the Sanhedrin who did not go along with the rest of them. So some probably were not there.

But those who were were looking for false evidence. But it good false evidence was hard to come by. V.60

“But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.”

I think that means that they couldn’t get two false witnesses to agree.

The standard for evidence was two witnesses with corroborating testimony.

First, you cross examine one witness and then you bring out the next one and ask them questions.

Well, nobody’s stories matched. Their collusion wasn’t good enough!

And then these two came fairly close. Mark actually tells us that they didn’t quite agree either, but enough that Matthew includes it in his gospel. V.60

“Finally two came forward and declared, ‘This fellow said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.'”

Now, did Jesus say that?

Is that quote from Jesus?

It almost sounds like one. But that’s not quite what He said.

Keep your finger there in Matthew 26 and turn over to John chapter 2, verse 19.

This is after Jesus cleaned out the temple the first time.

“Then the Jews demanded of him, ‘What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’”

Did He say that He was going to destroy the temple?

No, He says if they do it, then He would raise it up again.

But catch this. He wasn’t even talking about the physical temple. He wasn’t talking about Herod’s temple. V.20

“The Jews replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?’ But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.”

I’ve got three points this morning about how worthy Jesus is.

Here is number one. Jesus is:

#1. THE TRUE TEMPLE.

Yes, He said that if the temple was destroyed, He could build it up again in 3 days, but He wasn’t talking about Herod’s temple.

He was talking about Himself as the temple.

What is a temple?

Is the place where humanity meets God.

It’s the place of connection between God and Man.

It’s the place where heaven and earth collide.

The earthly temple was just a shadow, just a picture, just a type of the temple that was to come.

Jesus, in His human body, fulfilled the temple.

God enfleshed.

God and Man together.

And the meeting place between God and Man!

The connecting point.

Jesus is the connecting point between God and Man.

But to do it, He this temple has to be torn down.

That’s the Cross.

That’s the crucifixion which is looming large before Him.

That’s the cup that He has agreed to take.

His body, this temple is going to be torn down.

But three days later, He’s going to build it back up again!

Jesus is the true temple.

And therefore He is worthy.

He is worthy of our worship!

He is worthy of our praise!

He is worthy of wonderment and amazement!

That He would do this for us and that He even could do this for us!

Jesus is the meeting point between us and God.

I’m reading a book right now called “Created to Draw Near,” and it’s about a practical theology of priesthood for us today. How we are called to live as royal priests.

It’s by my mentor, Ed Welch, and like everything he writes, it’s really good.

Because Jesus is the true temple, we can draw near to God.

Think about that!

Do you draw near to God?

Jesus is worthy.

The Sanhedrin couldn’t see it. They had a twisted testimony of His words.

He wasn’t threatening to tear down the temple. He was promising to connect people to God.

Now, of course, just that week, Jesus had pronounced woe on Jerusalem and had prophesied the destruction and desolation of the temple.

So there was a justified element of concern for these religious leaders for their precious temple.

Jesus was a threat to the temple if they were going to continue to pollute it.

Earlier this week, He had tossed the tables of the money changers.

But even then He had every right.

Jesus is not the trouble.

These men are the trouble.

And yet, He’s the one on trial?

Verse 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?’ But Jesus remained silent.”

Majestic, isn’t He?

I am astounded by Jesus’ self-control.

I never thought about it so much as self-control as the last couple of weeks.

If it was me, if I wasn’t crying, I’d be yelling. “This isn’t fair! This isn’t true! Leave me alone!”

And if I was justifiably angry?

He could defend Himself.

He still could call down twelve legions of angels!

With. A. Word.

“But Jesus remained silent.”

“...and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Is 53:7).

What majestic self-control.

What a great example for us when we are unfairly attacked.

To not lash out.
To not live for our rights.

Peter said in his first epistle, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”

Answering injustice with love.

Beatings with blessings.

What an example He has shown us.

But even greater, what a gift He has given us by staying silent at that moment!

Because He is not just the temple. He is the lamb.

More on that in a second.

Right now, the high priest can’t hardly contain himself. He is so rip roaring mad at Jesus that he get anything on Him.

So Caiaphas tries one last trick. He demands that Jesus answer one question under oath.

Can you guess what it is?

Hint: this is the Gospel of Matthew.

Keep your eye on the ball.

What is the question?

“Who is Jesus?”

“Who are you?”

It’s the question that Jesus asked Peter in chapter 16.

“Who do you say that I am?”

What was the right answer?

“You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

V.63 “The high priest said to him, ‘I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.’”

Jesus decides it’s time to answer.

He doesn’t really want to.

Because these guys don’t understand what the Christ really is.

What the Son of God really is.

They think the Christ, the Messiah, is just a military ruler to bring victory over the nations.

They think from Psalm 2 that the Son of God is just another title for the Messiah to subdue the nations.

But the Christ is so much more than that.

And the Son of God is so much more than that!

So Jesus answers in the affirmative, but He makes sure to provide His own definition. V.64

“‘Yes, it is as you say,’ Jesus replied. ‘But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’”

Jesus says, “Caiaphas, it’s so much worse than you think!”

“Yes, you’ve said it.

I am the Christ, the Son of God.

Your words, not mine.

But my words are that I am the Son of Man the one predicted in the book of Daniel chapter 7."

Remember that?

Daniel wrote, “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Vv.13-14).

Up to the Ancient of Days.

At His right hand.

That’s language from Psalm 110.

Remember that?

From chapter 22?

When Jesus did the mic drop over Who is the Christ?

“Whose son is he?" [The son of David. Well then...] How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him 'Lord'? For he says, 'The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’ If then David calls him 'Lord,' how can he be his son?’” (vv.42-45).

It is no secret any longer.

This is the good confession.

Jesus says, “Yes, I am!”

And I’m not just the Messiah.

I’m the Son of God and the Son of Man who is going up sit at the right hand of God!

And one day going to come on the clouds and bring in the Kingdom.

We’ve learned a lot about that in the last few months, haven’t we?!

We don’t know when, but we know WHO, and we know what is going to happen.

The Son of Man is going to come in glory and judge all of the nations.

You know what that means?

It means that Jesus is:

#2. THE TRUE JUDGE.

They might have thought that they were judging Jesus, but in actual reality, Jesus is going to judge them.

He says, “in the future” which is more literally, “from this point on.”

In His crucifixion and ascension, Jesus’ kingship is being inaugurated.

And one day, we will all see it consummated when the King comes to judge.

In all of His awesome authority.

He could have done it right then.

He had the right.

But then we would not have been saved.

So He submitted to the Father’s will.

And just prophesied of the day to come when He will sit at the right hand of the Mighty One and come on the clouds of heaven.

Isn’t that amazing?

He is worthy!

He is worthy of our submission.
He is worthy of our submitting to His judgment.
He is worthy to judge us.

We are not worthy to judge Him.

Have you thought much about Jesus’ role as judge?

He was just teaching about it to the disciples in the last chapter. Remember the sheep and the goats?

He’ll be looking at our deeds and evaluating them.

And what He judges will be just and right.

He always does what is right.

He always sees things the right way.

And He is always going to set everything right again.

He is the true judge and His judgments are true.

He judges justly.

We sing about that future kingdom where justice reigns.

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of his righteousness (of His justice)
And wonders of his love.

He is worthy.

But that’s not what they thought.

Not at all.

They thought that Jesus had just committed the unpardonable sin. V.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. What do you think?’ ‘He is worthy of death,’ they answered.”

That’s all wrong!

But that’s what they said. And that’s what they did.

The high priest tore his clothes. Leviticus 21:10 says that the high priest should never tear his clothes.

Yet another breaking of the law by the people who are supposed to be keeping the law.

But Caiaphas does it because He is so distressed by what Jesus has just claimed.

Jesus has done and said exactly what he wanted Jesus to say.

And He has basically claimed to be on par and equal to God.

Sitting up there at His right hand.

Blasphemy.

Now, of course, the Jews did not have the authority to give out the death sentence while they were under Roman rule.

They sometimes did, like with Stephen, but they weren’t supposed to.

And they sure couldn’t crucify someone.

Stone them, maybe, but not crucify them.

So they are going to have to send Jesus over to the Roman governor, for the imperial Roman phase of His trial.

But they have decided their verdict.

“He is worthy of death.”

“He is guilty and deserves to die.”

And that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

He’s going to die.

But first, they’re going to shame and hurt Him more. V.67

“Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, ‘Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?’”

Can you imagine?

You know He could have.

He could have told them who had hit Him.

He knew their names.

He made them.

He could have told them a lot more about them.

But He didn’t.

It was all self-control all the time.

So that Isaiah 52:14 became true: “his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness...”

They punched Him.
They struck Him.
They beat Him.
They spit on Him.

And they called Him, “Christ” like it was swear word and not His regal title.

And all that time, He was worthy.

All of that time, He was worthy, not of death. But of worship and of faith.

Jesus was:

#3. THE TRUE SAVIOR.

He was the Christ!

And the Christ was there to save us from so much more than Rome!

The Christ was there to save us from our sins.

He was the temple bring us to God by being torn down.

And He was the lamb.

By staying silent and being sacrificed.

He is worthy.


***

Previous Messages in This Series:
01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ
03. The Search for Jesus Christ
04. The Baptism of Jesus
05. The Temptation of Jesus
06. Following Jesus
07. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
08. The Good Life (Part One)
09. The Good Life (Part Two)
10. You Are The...
11. Jesus and the First 2/3 of the Bible
12. But I Tell You
13. But I Tell You (2)
14. But I Tell You (3)
15. In Secret
16. Choose Wisely
17. Seek First His Kingdom
18. Generous
19. These Words of Mine
20. When He Saw the Crowds
21. When He Came Down from the Mountainside
22. Follow Me
23. Our Greatest Problem
24. Who Does He Think He Is?
25. Special Agents
26. Sheep Among Wolves
27. What To Expect On Your Mission
28. Are You the One?
29. Come to Me
30. The King of Rest
31. So Thankful!
32. Overflow
33. This Wicked Generation
34. Get It?
35. What Is Really Going On Here?
36. Baptizing the Disciples
37. The Treasure of the Kingdom
38. Living the Last Beatitude
39. Five Loaves, Two Fish, and Jesus
40. It Is I.
41. Worthless Worship
42. Great Faith in a Great God
43. The Pharisees and Sadducees
44. The Question and the Promise
45. Take Up His Cross
46. Like the Sun
47. Seed-Sized Faith
48. These Little Ones
49. If Your Brother Sins Against You
50. The Lord of Marriage
51. Drop Everything
52. First and Last
53. The Suffering Serving Son of Man
54. Shouting for the Son of David
55. Expecting Fruit
56. Come to the Wedding Banquet
57. Whose Image?
58. Acing the Test
59. What Do You Think About the Christ?
60. How Not To be A Leader
61. Malignant Religion
62. Fakes and Snakes
63. Birth Pains
64. The Coming of the Son of Man
65. No One Knows
66. Keep Watch
67. Well Done!
68. When Did We See You?
69. A Beautiful Thing
70. "The Passover With My Disciples"
71. "This Very Night"
72. "It Must Happen in this Way"

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