The Trial of Jesus

We’re going through the New Testament and seeing Trinitarian passages. Right now, we’re in the gospel of Matthew. For those of us reading for the first time, we are not going to touch a story in Matthew and then do the same one in Mark or Luke. Usually, we deal with all of them together so Mark and Luke could be shorter ones to go through. (John having so many dialogues will be different and we have much to touch on there.) Tonight, we’re in Matthew 26.

62Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?”63But Jesus remained silent. 
      The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”

 64“Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

 65Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66What do you think?” 
      “He is worthy of death,” they answered.

Gary Habermas has said that he believes this is the strongest statement of deity that Jesus Christ made. Why? First off, it’s an obvious reference to Daniel 7. However, let’s take some time to look at some references to clouds in the Old Testament.

Deuteronomy 4:

10 Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.” 11 You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens, with black clouds and deep darkness. 12 Then the LORD spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice.

Deuteronomy 33:

 25 The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze, 
       and your strength will equal your days.

 26 “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, 
       who rides on the heavens to help you 
       and on the clouds in his majesty.

 27 The eternal God is your refuge, 
       and underneath are the everlasting arms. 
       He will drive out your enemy before you, 
       saying, ‘Destroy him!’

2 Samuel 22:

 9 Smoke rose from his nostrils; 
       consuming fire came from his mouth, 
       burning coals blazed out of it.

 10 He parted the heavens and came down; 
       dark clouds were under his feet.

 11 He mounted the cherubim and flew; 
       he soared  on the wings of the wind.

12 He made darkness his canopy around him— 
       the dark  rain clouds of the sky.

 13 Out of the brightness of his presence 
       bolts of lightning blazed forth.

Job 22:

 13 Yet you say, ‘What does God know? 
       Does he judge through such darkness?

 14 Thick clouds veil him, so he does not see us 
       as he goes about in the vaulted heavens.’

 15 Will you keep to the old path 
       that evil men have trod?

Psalm 68:

 3 But may the righteous be glad 
       and rejoice before God; 
       may they be happy and joyful.

 4 Sing to God, sing praise to his name, 
       extol him who rides on the clouds 
       his name is the LORD—
       and rejoice before him.

 5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, 
       is God in his holy dwelling.

Psalm 97:

 1 The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; 
       let the distant shores rejoice.

 2 Clouds and thick darkness surround him; 
       righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.

 3 Fire goes before him 
       and consumes his foes on every side.

Psalm 104:

 2 He wraps himself in light as with a garment; 
       he stretches out the heavens like a tent

 3 and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. 
       He makes the clouds his chariot 
       and rides on the wings of the wind.

 4 He makes winds his messengers, 
       flames of fire his servants.

Ezekiel 30:

2 “Son of man, prophesy and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: 
       ” ‘Wail and say, 
       “Alas for that day!”

 3 For the day is near, 
       the day of the LORD is near— 
       a day of clouds, 
       a time of doom for the nations.

 4 A sword will come against Egypt, 
       and anguish will come upon Cush. 
       When the slain fall in Egypt, 
       her wealth will be carried away 
       and her foundations torn down.

Nahum 1:

2 The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; 
       the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. 
       The LORD takes vengeance on his foes 
       and maintains his wrath against his enemies. 3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; 
       the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. 
       His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, 
       and clouds are the dust of his feet.

 4 He rebukes the sea and dries it up; 
       he makes all the rivers run dry. 
       Bashan and Carmel wither 
       and the blossoms of Lebanon fade.

Let’s keep in mind also that the Jews certainly understood the claim of Christ so much so that the high priest tore his robe. Why is that important? First off, the high priest did not have his robe always as the Romans ruled. It was brought out only four times a year so this is an event Rome would know about.

Second, look at Leviticus 21:

10 ” ‘The high priest, the one among his brothers who has had the anointing oil poured on his head and who has been ordained to wear the priestly garments, must not let his hair become unkempt  or tear his clothes.

The whole trial was a violation of Jewish custom, but right here the high priest tore his clothes in response, something that the Law forbade him to do.

I believe Habermas is right. Jesus depicted himself coming on the clouds, a statement of deity, and referred to himself as the Son of Man. Ironically, the Jews were right in charging him with blasphemy.

That is, unless his claims are true, which they are.

Were they not true, then no. It was not a correct charge.

Which is one conclusion we have to realize when we come to the crucifixion. Either the crucifixion was the most wicked act of all putting to death the most righteous person of all, or it was the most righteous act of all putting to death the most wicked person of all.

No one can leave the cross neutral.

You must decide.

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