- Sermon Notes
The Verdict Is In
Matthew 27:1-2, 11-26
ILLUS – Justice and Pictures
- Justice or mercy?
- In many ways, life is like a courtroom.
- And tonight, we will study the greatest trial in human history; the trial of Jesus Christ.
- We will look at the evidence against Jesus along with the verdict that should have been rendered but was not.
- But then we will discover an unnerving twist to the greatest trial in human history; how the trial of Jesus actually put all of us on trial.
- We will look at the mounting evidence against us and the verdict that justice demands.
- One day a verdict will be rendered. Justice or mercy?
- As we will see, the choice is ours.
Matthew 27:1-2, 11-26
I. Jesus on Trial
- This is one of the most important sections not only of this Gospel, but of the Bible itself; the trial that led to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- But Matthew’s recording of Jesus’ trial is brief. In fact, Jesus endured six trials in all as well as mocking, beatings, and scourging before a nail was hammered into His flesh.
- Let’s do a quick overview of the six trials.
- The night in which Jesus was betrayed, He was first taken to the house of Annas, the former high priest. (John 18:12-14, 19-23)
- Though deposed in A.D. 15, Annas still wielded great influence over Israel’s ruling council.
- Jesus was taken to his house first, so that his son-in-law and high priest, Caiaphas, had time to call the Council together for a second trial in the middle of the night. (26:57-67)
- Caiaphas was the official Roman-appointed high priest. He strongly opposed Jesus’ message and ministry.
- That next morning, a brief third trial was held to reaffirm the verdict from the night before since it was illegal to hold a trial at night. (27:1)
- The Jews then brought Jesus before the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, because they did not have the authority to execute people. (John 18:31)
- When Pilate realized that Jesus was from Galilee, a region outside of his jurisdiction, he sent Jesus to Herod Antipas, the ruler of that region. (Luke 23:6-12)
- Herod was pleased to see Jesus and wanted to see Jesus perform a miracle, but Jesus would not comply.
- Herod also knew that Jesus was a political “hot potato” because He was popular.
- So, Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate to avoid additional turmoil since he was still dealing with the backlash from executing John the Baptist.
- The sixth trial before Pilate is recorded in Matthew 27:15-26; where we will spend the bulk of our time.
Transition – Now, with six trials, there must have been overwhelming evidence against Jesus.
A. What was the evidence against Jesus?
- Matthew 26:59 is a shocking read. “Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death.”
- Israel’s leaders had one goal, to kill Jesus at any cost.
a. They paid money to seize Jesus.
b. They held court at night and during a feast, which was illegal.They even entertained false testimony, which was against the Law of Moses, the very Law they were required to uphold.
c. They even entertained false testimony, which was against the Law of Moses, the very Law they were required to uphold.
Exodus 20:16, You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- Though falsely accused, Jesus remained silent in fulfillment of Messianic prophecy.
Isaiah 53:7, He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.
- When the false witnesses were unable to provide incriminating evidence against Jesus, two finally came forward and declared, “This man stated, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.’” (26:61)
a. When did Jesus say that? In John’s Gospel we’re told that Jesus said this at the start of His ministry, before the Passover, after He had cleansed the Temple for the first time.
b. Which Temple was Jesus referring to? John 2:18-21 gives us important insight.
John 2:18-21, The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?”
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body.
c. So, Jesus spoke of His own body and the death He would endure to save our souls.
5. Not satisfied with the proceedings, the high priest pressed the matter when he put Jesus under oath and demanded, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” (26:63)
6. Jesus said, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (26:64)
a. Jesus quoted from two Messianic passages: Psalm 110 and Daniel 7.
b. By doing so, Jesus declared that He is the Messiah, the Son of God.
c. By quoting those passage, Jesus also declared that they, His enemies, would one day stand trial before Him.
7. Jesus’ response infuriated the high priest and he tore his robe, which was illegal for him to do. (Leviticus 21:10)
8. They condemned Jesus for committing blasphemy and then beat, slapped, spat upon, and mocked Him; actions which were not only inhumane but illegal. (65-68)
9. But when they took Jesus to Pilate, the Jews changed the charge from blasphemy and said Jesus was guilty of three crimes:
a. Misleading the nation;
b. Forbidding the payment of taxes to Caesar;
c. Claiming to be the Christ, a King. (Luke 23:2)
10. Pilate focused on the third charge because he wanted to know if Jesus posed a threat to Rome. He questioned Jesus and asked, “Are You the King of the Jews?” (John 18:33)
11. Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” (John 18:34)
APPL – What crime had Jesus committed? Was there evidence that He is the Son of God?
- Jesus was confirmed as the Son of God by fulfilling miraculous predictions.
- Seed of Woman (Genesis 3:15)
- Seed of Abraham (Genesis 12:1)
- Tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10)
- Line of David (2 Samuel 7:12)
- Born of a Virgin (Isaiah 7:14)
- Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
- Time of Triumphal Entry and Death (Daniel 9:24)
- Jesus was also confirmed as the Son of God by living a miraculous life.
- Jesus performed over 60 confirming miracles.
John 3:1-2, Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
- Jesus also taught and lived the highest ethic that humanity has ever known, the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).
Norman Geisler rightly said of Jesus Christ, “His character was impeccable, His deeds were unimpeachable, and His life was unsurpassable.”
B. The Verdict? Condemned yet innocent
- Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life and was declared innocent of any guilt:
a. By His betrayer, Judas Iscariot.
Matthew 27:3-4, Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”
b. By the wife of Pontius Pilate.
Matthew 27:19, While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.”
c. Even by Herod Antipas and Pontius Pilate.
Luke 23:13-15, Pilate summoned the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought this man to me as one who incites the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him. No, nor has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; and behold, nothing deserving death has been done by Him.
- Yet, Jesus was condemned. Why? Maybe this would be a good place to ask another question, who was responsible for the death of Jesus?
- Throughout history many people have persecuted the Jews because they killed Jesus, the Messiah.
- But the Scriptures reveal a greater truth that is important for us to understand.
a. First, Jesus offered His life in obedience to His Father’s command; it was not taken from Him.
John 10:18, No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.
b. Second, God’s plan included man’s free will so that those who condemned and executed Jesus did so freely.
Acts 4:27-28, For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.
APPL – It’s ironic and paradoxical that the Judge of all the earth would Himself be on trial. But that is what happened.
- God presented His Son and He, the Judge of all creation, was judged.
- He was on trial and yet, in reality, His trial put us on trial…
II. We are on Trial
- Jesus bore witness to the truth and truth does not change.
- And we must decide what we will do with the truth.
- What is the truth about us?
A. What is the evidence against us?
- The truth is we are guilty because we are sinners.
a. We inherited a sin nature from Adam.
Romans 5:12, Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin
b. So, all of us sin because sinning is our nature.
Romans 3:23, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
ILLUS – News Alert
- As a result, we can relate to the Council of Israel because we have envy in our hearts.
Matthew 27:18, For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over.
- We can relate to Peter because we have pride in our hearts.
Matthew 26:33, But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.”
- We can also relate to Peter when he followed Jesus at a distance and warmed himself at the fire while Jesus was tried. He wanted to fit in and be one of the crowd. (26:58)
- We can even relate to Pilate. Against his better judgment, he gave into peer pressure.
a. Not only did his wife warn him, his own conscience told him that Jesus was innocent.
b. He knew the Jews were wrong, but he gave into the political pressure because his loyalty to Caesar had been called into question.
John 19:12, 16, As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.”… So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified.
Transition – What is the verdict?
B. The Verdict? Guilty yet graciously offered mercy
- While it is true that we are cut from the same cloth as the Sanhedrin, Peter, and Pilate, it is also true that we are like Barabbas.
- One of the more intriguing parts of this story has to do with this man named Barabbas.
- His name actually means bar (son) and abba (father); or son of the father.
- Pilate presented Barabbas in order to get out of crucifying Jesus. He thought there would be no way that Israel would want Pilate to release a murderer and a thief. (Mark 15:7; John 18:40)
- But Pilate was wrong, and the crowd would have nothing to do with it. Incited by the Jewish leaders the crowd demanded the release of Barabbas and the crucifixion of Jesus.
APPL – Here again, we need to see an important parallel. Barabbas becomes a picture of us all.
- Barabbas was a notorious sinner who deserved death.
- But Jesus died in his place!
- And because Jesus died in his place, Barabbas lived.
- That’s the message of the cross. That’s the good news of the Gospel. That’s the truth that sets us free.
- At the right time Christ died in our place that we might have the forgiveness of sins and the gift of everlasting life.
Romans 5:6, 8, For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly… But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
James Stewart of Scotland once wrote, “They nailed Him to a cross, not guessing that He would make it a throne. They flung Him outside the gates to die, not knowing that in that very moment they were lifting up the gates of the universe, to let the King of Glory come in. They thought to root out His doctrines, not understanding that they were implanting imperishably in the hearts of men the very Name they intended to destroy.
They thought they had God with His back to the wall, pinned and helpless and defeated; they did not know that it was God Himself who had tracked them down. He did not conquer in spite of the dark mystery of evil. He conquered through it.”
APPL – The verdict is in. We are guilty.
- But there is a Rescuer, a Redeemer, a Reconciler, an Advocate, Jesus Christ, the Savior of our souls!
- The choice is yours to make.
Acts 16:31, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved
Matthew 27:11-26 NASB
11 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor questioned Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.” 12 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He did not answer. 13 Then Pilate *said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” 14 And He did not answer him with regard to even a single [a]charge, so the governor was quite amazed.
15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the [b]people any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 At that time they were holding a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 So when the people gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over.
19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for [c]last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.” 20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death. 21 But the governor [d]said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate *said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all *said, “[e]Crucify Him!” 23 And he said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they kept shouting all the more, saying, “[f]Crucify Him!”
24 When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.” 25 And all the people said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released Barabbas [g]for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.