Grace Baptist Church Decatur, IL


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More Easter Season Sermons

Two on Trial

Matthew 26:57-75



There were 2 phases to Jesus’ kangaroo court.  There was the religious phase where He stood before Jewish religious leaders, and then there was the civil phase where He stood before Roman government leaders.  But a careful examination of the text reveals there were really 2 people being tried.  Not only Jesus, but also Peter.


Jesus was being asked the question, “are you the Son of God?”  Peter was being asked, “are you a child of God?”


Like a drama, Matthew takes us back and forth between the two trials, let’s look at Jesus’ trial first...


1.     The arraignment of Jesus.

v. 57        They have already decided to seek the death penalty, but they need to decide what charges to seek.  Originally the high priest served for life, but when the Roman Empire took over the region they changed all that and appointed a high priest they chose.  Jesus first stood before Annas, who had been the high priest for 13 years and will still the power behind the throne...then Caiaphas.  These 2 guys were the ‘Godfathers’ of the corrupt temple worship, which had been reduced to just a religious scam, taking advantage of the people.  Jesus had overthrown their tables and exposed them as frauds, and they hated Him.


Everything about the trial of Jesus was illegal, from start to finish: 

·       He was considered guilty before the trial even began. 

·       It was conducted at night, also illegal.  Jesus was not allowed to call any witnesses.  He could have called formerly blind, deaf, and lame people He healed. 

·       The Sanhedrin served not only as judges, but also as the prosecutors!

·       False witnesses were secured, even tho’ the price for perjury in those days was to receive the punishment of the accused.

·       Death penalty sentences were to carry a 3 day waiting period, during which period the religious leaders were to fast and pray and make sure their decision was correct.


The whole thing was a travesty of justice...a mockery for sure!


The arraignment of Jesus...


2.     The accusations against Jesus.

v. 59-60   No corroborating evidence could be found.  Finally 2 witnesses made a claim...

v. 61        In John 2:19 Jesus said something like this, but they misquoted Him.  He actually said if THEY tear it down, He would raise it up.  They also misunderstood, because they thought He was talking about Herod’s temple being destroyed, and it was really the temple of His body that He said would be raised up again!


Their whole testimony was perverted, but it doesn’t matter, because when you are not really seeking the truth, any old testimony will do.


v. 63        This is fulfillment of Isaiah 53:7

Isaiah 53:7
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

Why didn’t Jesus set the record straight?  2 reasons:

-He knew they weren’t seeking the truth

Sometimes in counseling I perceive people to be simply seeking my stamp of approval to be placed on what they have already decided to do.  But it’s very refreshing to have many in the church today who are genuinely seeking to know the truth.  I get a lot of email asking questions, and it is obvious they are trying to pick a fight, or to change my thinking on a matter, and I don’t answer those questions.  Jesus was the same way.

“Unasked for advice is seldom appreciated, never heeded, and sometimes resented”


        -The statement He made was a spiritual one which carnal men couldn’t ever understand.

1 Corinthians 2:14
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Our eyes are only open to truth once we are saved.  Don’t get dragged into theological discussions when the cults come by, they won’t ever see the point.  Just give them the simple gospel and send them on their way.  They walk in darkness until their spiritual light is turned on.


v. 63        The high priest plays his trump card, and thinks he’s backed Jesus into a corner.  If Jesus says yes, I’m the Messiah, the Romans will be upset.  If He says yes, I’m the Son of God, the Jews will be upset.


v. 64        What an ingenious answer!  He says, you got it right, now say it again and mean it with your heart and you’ll be saved!!  Caiaphas didn’t believe it, but today he does, and he’ll someday bow the knee and confess it to be true!


v. 65        On the inside he’s very happy, he’s got Him.  But outwardly it’s a mellow drama.  He’s like the first televangelist making his plea before the crowds!  He rent his clothes [why not buy?] in blatant disobedience to OT law, the high priest violates the law.  Ironic, because Jesus on the cross is about to abolish the need for a priest anyway!


You can ask me to pray for something and I usually will, but you don’t need to go thru me to get to God yourself!  “The Priesthood of the Believer”


Arraignment, accusations...


3.     The abuse of Jesus.

v. 67-68   They are playing games and mocking Him.  The height of humiliation is a spit in the face.  And this is the face that wept at the grave of Lazarus, that smiled in welcoming little children, and that looked at this world in love.    That’s the face they spit upon.  And if you know you need to be saved, and you know that Jesus can save you, and you reject that offer, in a very real sense you are spitting in that face as well.  “I don’t care that you love me, died for me, were humiliated for me, were tortured for me!”


What a contrast we see here.  We see God at His best, and man at his very worst.


Speaking of that, what would you think of a preacher who would curse and swear in front of one of the teenagers?

        Peter did just that…and denied the Lord--let’s look briefly at Peter’s trial now:


v. 69-75


If we fail God, it will probably be at a point of our greatest strength


Peter’s greatest strength was his courage!

        We criticize Peter for taking his eyes off the Lord on the sea of Galilee and beginning to sink…but at least he got out of the boat!

        When they came to arrest Jesus, Peter pulled out his sword to defend him / tried to take off one of their heads!

        This big, burly fisherman, however, cowered down before a teenage girl…in the area of his greatest strength!


Other examples: 


Bible says he was the meekest among men [meekness:  strength under control]  But what did he do?  He lost control of his emotions and killed an Egyptian / later smote rock twice!


He is called the father of faith…but he left Canaan and went into Egypt, and lied about Sarah his wife, because he didn’t have enough faith that God would protect him…he failed in his area of strength!


A picture of purity/apple of God’s eye/man after God’s own heart…but he committed adultery/failed in his area of strength!


None of these failed in their weakness, but in their strength…because we all have a tendency to leave our strengths unguarded!

        An unguarded strength is a double weakness!

Paul said (II Cor. 12:10), when I am weak, them am I strong! [for then I’m depending on the Lord, and not myself!]

[Prov. 16:18 says that pride goes before destruction / The NT echoes in I Cor. 10:12, “let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall]


Back to v. 33        We can admire Peter’s statement at first glance, but there’s a difference between saying I can do all things thru Christ, or just I can do all things!

*The boastful man is tempting the devil to tempt him.


Even when we fail, God is still in control.

          The rooster crowing is a testimony that God was still in control / the Lord shut the beaks of hundreds of roosters until the precise moment of the 3rd denial!

        Right now Peter is at his worst / lowest / failing / falling / out of control, but he’s got a message from the Lord, “I’m still in control!”

        II Timothy 2:13  “If we believe not yet he abideth faithful…”

We often fail God, but He never fails us / often I’m not faithful to Him, but Great is His Faithfulness! / I’m not so great…but “How Great Thou Art!”


To learn to fail forward, we must remember that even when we despair and feel out of control, God is still in control…He’s still sovereign!   

        And when Rom. 8:28 says all things work together for good…that includes our failures!


You may feel like you’ve blown it, and maybe you have!…but no matter what you’ve done…God still has a wonderful plan for your life!  How do I know that?  You’re still breathing!


When we fail, God is sympathetic 

        According to Luke 22, the moment Peter denied, he turned and saw the Lord, and their eyes met!

It wasn’t a look of disappointment or anger…it was a look of love!

*God is not changing us so He can love us; He

           loves us and, therefore, He is changing us.

*God does not love us because we are valuable; we are valuable because He loves us!




Psalms 103:14  “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”

[that’s unconditional love]


He’s there all the time, waiting patiently in line!  He’s sovereign and can make lemonade out of lemons like us…and when we fail, He’s sympathetic!


Even when we fail, we are secure

Luke 22:31-32
31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

 Aren’t you glad your salvation doesn’t depend upon YOU?  If you’ve been born again, you are forever changed…You are safe and secure in His Mighty Hands!


Explain the sifting process:  chaff remains in sifter, wheat falls thru / Satan, the accuser, wanted Peter to fall, so he could throw the chaff in God’s face!

        [“desired” to have you=asked permission…Satan has to ask!]

Satan wanted to sift Peter to condemn him…Jesus allowed the sifting in order to cleanse Peter.

        Jesus also knew there was some chaff / and that Peter would never deal w/ it until he became aware of it…so He allowed it!


Satan had a malevolent motive / Jesus a benevolent!

So, Jesus used the devil’s tool--to help Peter!

        [Just like David used Goliath’s own sword to cut off his head!]


Jesus isn’t concentrating on the chaff in your life…He sees the wheat…and He wants to cleanse you!

        3 things Jesus knew about Peter: 

1.   Failure

2.     Faith

3.     Future

Peter, you’ve blown it big time, but I’m gonna help you up, and you’re gonna be stronger for it…and believe it or not, you’re gonna preach and 3,000 get saved…you’re gonna write part of the Bible, you’re gonna voluntarily be crucified for me upside down!


Maybe you’ve failed…who hasn’t?  Or fallen?  Get back up…just don’t fail to be saved!  We’re on trial.  Let’s pass the test!



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