“God’s Solution to Human’s Dilemma”

Matthew 27:57-75

We are reading through the Gospel According to Matthew and we have reached an exciting part of the story. It is the time of Passover in Jerusalem. Jesus has been in the city preaching and teaching. Jesus and His disciples have just finished celebrating the Feast of Unleavened Bread. They chose to celebrate as soon as the day began, which technically for the Jewish was when the sun went down. Most people have gone to bed and will celebrate when the sun comes up, but many things will happen to Jesus before the sun rises on this particular holiday. 

Last week we read how after celebrating the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Jesus led His disciples out to the Garden to pray. It was the wee hours of the night and the disciples fell asleep. Jesus was left alone to pray with His Father about a possible alternative. 

Jesus of course knew the entire plan. He knew that there would be a resurrection and He would be victorious. But when it came right down to the hour, His humanity questioned whether They could come up with another way. The final answer?  

“Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” 

Judas, having taken things into his own hands, arrived with a crowd and identified Jesus to the armed guards with a kiss. Jesus acknowledged His betrayer and was arrested. By this time the disciples were awake. Peter attempted to cut off the head of the servant of the high priest and bungled that by chopping off his ear. Again, Jesus tells Peter to stop acting so impetuously. 

God’s plan is going as designed. 

Stop here for a moment. Take in what has occurred. At this point the disciples were unaware of what Jesus had been discussing with God in the garden. Remember, they were all asleep. They have been listening to Jesus for the past three years, and killing people with swords was never in one of Jesus’ messages. But that aside, if you had been one of the the disciples or one of His followers, knowing what you do know about the high priest and chief priests and if they were standing in the middle of the night with clubs and swords in their hands, to capture Jesus, wouldn’t you be thinking there was something wrong with this picture? Roman guards used those things, why were God’s religious leaders carrying them. And on top of all that, they have them to fight against Jesus? The man who has done nothing but say words of peace and reconciliation. 

This is God’s plan? 

Can you begin to see how this is confusing? 

And let’s go one step more…. 

If they are coming to take Jesus, who’s next?

Thus, we left last week with all of Jesus’ followers fleeing. 

Now, in today’s Scripture, Jesus was led to the high priest’s Caiaphas. This was actually the second place Jesus was taken. We are told in the Gospel of John He was first taken to the home of Annas, who was the ex-high priest, the actual “power behind the throne” of the high priest. Matthew skips that visit for some reason.

At Caiaphas’ home he had gathered a group of the Sanhedrin to pass judgment on Jesus. 

But check out Peter! 

We are back with our spy novel again. 

Peter has been following at a distance. 

He gets as far as the courtyard of the high priest where the servants were hanging out so he can see what is happening. What do you think is going on in Peter’s head? I think he is trying to blend in. I think Peter hopes to be able to “spring Jesus free,” or find a time he can get close enough to talk with Jesus and help Him escape. 

What do you think?

Matthew then tells us that the chief priests and elders and all the council were trying to find someone with a good enough false testimony that would stick and be able to put Jesus to death. They have a difficult time finding someone. Finally two false witnesses came up with this statement, 

“This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”

Let’s step back in time again. 

In the time of Jesus, a night time trial was illegal. This was according to the Sanhedrin’s own laws and regulations. Their law stated that all criminal trials must begin and end in the daylight. We read in Luke (22:66-71) they will actually conduct another trial during the daylight, because they knew this first one had no legal standing. 

Not only that, according to Jewish law, criminal cases were not to be tried during the Passover season in the first place.  

Jewish law also stated that only an acquittal could be issued on the day of the trial. Guilty verdicts had to wait one night to allow feelings of mercy to rise. 

Also in Jewish law, there had to be two eyewitnesses, which they had, however, according to the law, they were to be separately examined and could have no contact with each other. 


According to Jewish law, false witnesses were to be punished by death. Although there were many, we do not read of any harm being done to them. 

As for how Jewish trials were to be organized, the evidence for the innocence of the accused was to be presented first, before the evidence of guilt was offered. 

All of these rules were established by the Sanhedrin. I guess they were bendable when it came to getting rid of Jesus?

You can’t make this stuff up. I mean all of the things that happened to Jesus were truly out of the realm of believable. Demonstrating the length that pride and hatred will go to get rid of “Truth” if it makes you look bad. 

It takes them a while but they manage to find two men who will testify that they heard Jesus say He would destroy the temple. Today that would be considered a bomb threat. They were going with the plan to convict Jesus as a terrorist. 

Did Jesus actually say that? No. 

What He said was, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” We read in the Gospel of John that Jesus was clearly speaking in regards to the temple of His body.

This trial becomes even more interesting. After everyone has had their say, the high priest turns to Jesus and asks Him if He is going to say anything? Typically there would have been a long defense, especially if the accused was innocent. Things were already not going as “usual” but it was remarkable for Jesus to say nothing. Surely He could have found various witnesses to His deity, power and character. 

Think about it, there were people He had taught, healed, risen from the dead, freed from blindness, even demons themselves testified to His deity. 

Not God’s plan. Prophecy was to be fulfilled. Isaiah 53:7,

He was oppressed and afflicted,

    yet he did not open his mouth;

he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,

    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,

    so he did not open his mouth.

At this point the high priest gets irritable and demands that Jesus, under oath by the living God, say something!

“Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”

Invoking the name of God was taking it to the top. Caiaphas knew the terrorist threat wouldn’t stick. 

He had come to the end of his rope and it was time to bully the witness into some sort of declaration so they could forgo gathering witnesses and be done with this thing. 

Jesus had kept silent but managed to answer as briefly and directly as possible. He didn’t admit so directly but said, 

 “You have said so,”

Jesus went on to say that there would be a day when they would see Him seated at the right hand of God, where He would be doing the judging. 

Caiaphas jumps on the statement as blasphemy. Which had it been anyone else that would have been correct, except Jesus was who He said He was.  

Caiaphas rips his robes and asks the other religious leaders around him what they think. 

“He is worthy of death,” they answered.

How low can we go? God, who is love, came to earth, lived among humans, and this was their reply to Him? 

But that wasn’t all. To make matters worse, they spit on Him, they hit Him with their fists, they slapped Him with their open hands. Where did all this anger come from? And yet, Jesus did not retaliate. It is remarkable that God didn’t settle things right then and there. It’s remarkable that a legion of angels did not arrive in defense of Jesus. God’s tolerance toward sin is amazing and His mercy truly knows no ends. 

While this was happening, you can be sure all eyes have been on what has been happening. 

Those looking on from the high priest’s court, including Peter, were in the courtyard taking it all in. When a servant girl notices him and asks him if he was one of those who had been with Jesus. 

Trying to remain incognito Peter responds with,

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” 

Feeling uneasy, Peter goes closer and makes it to the gateway. Only to have some other servant girl point him out saying, 

“This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

Peter gets worse with his response, this time he not only denies knowing Jesus he took an oath with his lie. 

 “He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”

By this time, those who had been standing around with him confronted him, agreeing with the first two ladies as his accent gave him away. 

Whatever plan Peter had, it was not going to work. He was clearly “found out” and any plan of helping Jesus out was going to be useless. 

Rats! Foiled! 

Peter became so upset with his third denial he calls down curses and swears. He was clearly frustrated and angry.

No sooner had Peter denied knowing Jesus for the third time, the rooster crowed. Peter remembers the message given by Jesus, but he was too late. Luke tells us that Jesus was able to look at Peter. With that, Peter walked away and wept. 

What a cliffhanger!

I haven’t watched this scene of  “The Chosen” the on-line series of the New Testament, but I can picture it in my mind. 

Three years of following the Messiah. Three years of thinking you have met the Messiah and you were going to be a part of God’s redemption of His people. Finally, someone stands up to the establishment and on the very holiday, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they should be celebrating how God freed His people from slavery, the establishment wins again. 

How can this be? 

And to top it all off, the disciple who was convinced he was the number one follower of Jesus just messed up royally. You can imagine as Peter was weeping and walking away he felt doomed. He was no better than Judas. 

What had just happened?

Spoiler alert!

We already know the “rest of the story.” 

However, I suggest we all take some time today to reflect on what we read today. From the human perspective, at this point in the story, it certainly seems like the crooked establishment will win. The disciples feel helpless and Jesus looks like He is doomed. 

Have you ever been there personally? 

Whether it’s a situation that you have put yourself in due to your own sin, or a situation you find yourself due to someone else’s sin, you found yourself in a place of doom. 

There seems to be no “good” answer.

Welcome to the human dilemma. 

Thankfully, we know this is not the end of the story. God’s grace and mercy will prevail. It did for Jesus and the disciples and it will for us. When we trust in God, who is faithful with, 

“Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

I will close today with Romans 8:31-39  as our benediction:

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.