Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Betrayal and Trials of Jesus

The sovereignty of God has been on my mind a lot lately as we decided to send Joshua to private school next year and then Jeff's application to the Uniting Church to become a Minister of the Word was rejected.

This morning I went to BSF, my Bible Study class. This past week our class has been reading through the stories of the last supper, Jesus' prayer at Gethsemane, Judas' betrayal and Peter's denial of Jesus and the five trials Jesus went through (before Annas, Caiaphas, Pontius Pilate, Herod and Pilate again). The thing that struck me the most with all these stories was Jesus' insistence that what had been prophesied and recorded in the Scriptures (ie, the Old Testament) must come to pass.

Below is just one example, although there are many throughout the "passion" narrative. I have woven this account together taking verses from both Matthew and John's gospels. None of the gospel accounts includes every detail of this time, but together they provide a picture which is as complete and sufficient for our needs as God wanted it to be. The words of Jesus are in red, to help you keep track of who is speaking because it is not always apparent from the snippets.
Matt26:1-2 When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, "As you know, the Passover is two days away - and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified."

Matt 26:4-5 ... they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him. "But not during the feast," they said, "or there may be a riot among the people."

Matt 26:16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

John 13:18
"I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: 'He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.' "

Matt 26:23,25 Jesus replied,
"The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me."
... Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, "Surely not I, Rabbi?"
Jesus answered,
"Yes, it is you."

John 13:27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.
"What you are about to do, do quickly," Jesus told him.

John 18:1-3 When he had finished praying Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it.
Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.

Matt 26:46-47
"Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!"
While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent fromt he chief priests and the elders of the people.

John 18:4-6 Jesus knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them,
"Who is it you want?"
"Jesus of Nazareth," they replied.
"I am he," Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.)
When Jesus said ,
"I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground.

Matt 26:48-50 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: "The one I kiss is the man; arrest him." Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed him.
Jesus replied,
"Friend, do what you came for."
Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.

Matt 27:1-2 Early in the morning, all the chief priests and he elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death. They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor.

John 18:28-29 Then the Jews led Jesus to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and asked, "What charges are you bringing against this man?"

Matt 27:22,24-26 "What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked.
They all answered, "Crucify him!"
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!"
All the people answered, "Let his blood be on us and on our children!"
Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and
handed him over to be crucified.
Can you see how Jesus guided the events so that His crucifixion occurred at the very time which God had planned for it - the Passover, the annual Jewish celebration of their deliverance by God? The people involved eagerly desired Jesus' blood yet they did not want to cause a stir at the Passover time, when so many Jews were present in Jerusalem. Despite this, at Jesus' urging Judas betrayed Him at a time which ensured Jesus would indeed be crucified at the Passover.

And yet, Jesus' instigation of the timing of the event does not change the fact that Judas is held accountable by God for his premeditated betrayal of Jesus. When Judas saw what he had done, he felt remorse, but no true repentance. This was demonstrated by the way he went to the chief priests and elders to ask them to undo what he had done - but he never went to Jesus to ask forgiveness. If he had, he might have been at the foot of the cross later that day when Jesus said, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 24:34). Instead, filled with regret and shame, he committed suicide. We each need to remember that while God is sovereign and in control, He is also our Judge with authority over us and He will hold us accountable for all our decisions and actions, big and small.

Consider what Peter had to say about this later, when he spoke to the crowds at Pentecost:
Acts 2:23 "This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross."

Peter and John prayed this after they were released by the Sanhedrin (religious council):
Acts 4:27-28 "Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen."

Jesus' crucifixion was all part of God's eternal plan for salvation. He brought it about according to His own sovereign will. But it was our sin, yours and mine, which required that it should come to pass.

[This post was also posted at Equip Academy here.]

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