There’s a song I really like called “How he Loves“. I have two different versions, I prefer the Kim Walker version. It’s a great song that tries to capture the depth of God’s love for us. When Jesus was arrested and tried, he definitely wasn’t thinking about how much the High priests loved him.
While I was preparing for my Easter Sunday sermon I was reflecting on Matthew 26:56 where Jesus is brought before Caiaphas and the Council. Matthew records that “Now the chief priests and the whole Council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death…”
I noticed something I have never noticed before. This verse tells us something very important: how much they must have hated Jesus. I mean, really, truly, despised and hated him. It also tells us how much they were in love with their own hold on power and their love of Scripture, but not the love of God. It’s also a warning for us.
OH, HOW THEY HATED HIM
Seeking to bear false witness against someone is of course a direct violation of Exodus 20:16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
As obvious as this observation is, I always gloss over it. This time though I noticed something:
A lot of us, myself included, get lazy and repeat this commandment as “thou shalt not lie”, but it doesn’t say that. It very specifically uses court room imagery to get its point across. Now, of course, it is condemning lying in all it’s forms, but the parallels here are striking.
In Matthew Jesus is for all purposes in a court room. He stands before his accusers and judges (who are the same people conveniently enough) and is on trial for his life. If the commandment is meant to apply anywhere, it should apply here. Jesus is convicted on the basis of false testimony. His conviction is a massive miscarriage of justice, which, if the rulers followed their own laws should not have happened.
WHY DID IT HAPPEN and COULD IT HAPPEN AGAIN?
It’s safe to say they didn’t like Jesus, but given that they were willing to break their own laws to convict him and murder him (and thereby breaking another commandment), we start to realize how deep their hatred for this man went.
We are left to speculate as to exactly why the high priest and his council allowed this travesty of justice to occur. Yes, it was God’s plan that Christ be crucified, but this had to happen within a real-life context. Something had to override their normal reason to allow them not only to use perjured testimony, but to seek it out.
One theory in particular comes to mind and it is a good warnings for us:
The rulers loved scripture. They studied it and knew it backwards and forwards. But, they clearly missed the heart of God (literally, since He was right in front of them). They fell in love with scripture, fell in love with the words of God, but not the heart of God. Scripture became an idol.
Are you danger of this? Are the scriptures your start and end points, or are you using the words of God to help you get to God – to the Word of God (Jesus)? Does your vision stop at the Bible, or do you see through it to Jesus?
Jesus was tried and convicted on the basis of perjured testimony that the judges themselves sought out. In doing so they were demonstrating their absolute hatred not only for God’s commands but God himself.
If the Bible isn’t helping you see Jesus and if Jesus isn’t the lens through which you interpret and understand the whole of Scripture, then you might be in danger of missing the heart of God and the message he is trying to tell in the pages of the Bible.