He Deserves Death
Matt. 26:66 What is your verdict?” They answered, “He deserves death.”
This is the night that Jesus was taken away while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. He is brought to the High Priest who holds somewhat of a mock trial. They have already decided he is guilty so therefore there is no testimony brought up in the defense of Christ. He is guilty of blasphemy for he says he is the son of God. They don't even consider the evidence from the last three years of his life and ministry, the fact that he could have been the son of God! He has preached about God and his kingdom, and he has performed literally thousands of miracles among the people. But none of this is even considered. They simply declare him guilty, declaring, "He deserves death."
Those three words have been before me this morning as I have read the Scriptures. "He deserves death." How ironic. If there was anyone who should not have deserved death, it would be Jesus.
Jesus was peaceful in his ministry (except for the one time recorded at the temple), he didn't require money, he lived humbly, he fed the multitudes, and he healed many, many people. Wow -- what a bad guy! What is it about his behavior that aroused the ire of the religious leaders and had them determine that he was deserving of the death penalty?
The response of the leaders comes from three different sources; jealousy, guilt and power. First of all they had become jealous of his popularity. Weren't they supposed to be the popular religious leaders? Weren't people supposed to line up to come to them and receive the good news from God? Instead they found themselves left out, on the margins of this movement of people who were following this Rabbi, Jesus. Jealousy filled them with envy and the knew they had to do something about him.
But then it all became so personal. There were many times that Jesus' messages had a dual meaning and the religious leaders were smart enough to pick up on what he was saying. Jesus was quite critical of the spiritual care (or lack thereof) that they had provided for the people. However, instead of picking up on their responsibility, they became defensive. How dare he make they feel guilty about not being all they could have been as spiritual leaders! They and been the perfect leaders -- they had obeyed every little law. Who cared what was in their hearts -- they knew the rule book! But Jesus' words touched their hearts and began to stir things that made them feel uncomfortable. Rather than dealing with their discomfort and examining their own hearts, it was easier to silence the messenger. Surely if he were gone they would no longer be confronted with their own guilt.
The biggest problem with Jesus was that what he said just might be true and if that were the case, then all the power that they had accumulated would be lost. They were the religious leaders! They were the ones who could speak and control the people. They were the ones who could go to the government authorities and be the voice of the people of faith. If Jesus were the son of God, they would have to submit to him and this new kingdom that Jesus talked about would throw all the systems they had created into chaos.
The religious leaders had a problem on their hands. Why not just get rid of the problem. They decided that he deserved death.
And where do we fit in this whole picture? When Jesus stands before us and his life shines the light of truth on us, are we willing to accept his truth, even if it rocks our world, and allow him, the son of God to change us? Or, does he make us so uncomfortable that we simply want to get rid of him, and hence our problem!
Jesus did not deserve death.
Lord, help me be open and willing to accept the self-examination which must occur when standing in your presence. Amen.