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Travesty of Justice: The Jewish Trial of Jesus - Part 1

Tom Pennington • Mark 14:53-65

  • 2012-10-21 PM
  • The Memoirs of Peter
  • Sermons

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Well, I invite you to take your Bibles tonight and turn with me back to Mark's gospel. I have been looking forward to this day, getting back to this amazing account of our Lord's life, the very end of His life as we examine it together. Tonight, we come to the Jewish trial of Jesus. You know, as we contemplate His trial, it's, it's important to understand that history is littered with examples of the travesty of justice. There have been countless wrongful convictions and frankly there have been many deliberate miscarriages of justice. There have been frequent rushes to judgment, sometimes followed by summary mob executions. Countless tombstones tell the vivid stories of mistaken guilt – tombstones with captions like this: 'Rest in peace. We know you didn't do it now.' Think about that for a moment.

In the last 30 years, there have been a steady stream of convictions that have been overturned by DNA evidence. In fact, they tell us that more than 300 convictions have been overturned through DNA evidence here in the United States. The first exoneration by DNA took place in 1998 – excuse me, 1989 I should say. Since 2000, there have been 233 people who have been exonerated from the crimes for which they were convicted and imprisoned. Eighteen of those served time on death row. Another 15 were charged with capital crimes but were not sentenced to death, perhaps life in prison. The average length of time served by those who were wrongfully accused and exonerated by DNA evidence is 13.6 years; the total number of years by those who've been freed – over 4,000 years of human life. The average age of those who were exonerated at the time of their wrongful convictions was 27.

We live in a world where justice is often hard to find. Phrases like 'a travesty of justice', 'a miscarriage of justice' – those are just regular parts of the landscape of our judicial system. But without question, the greatest travesty of justice in human history happened to the One who was most profoundly innocent of any crime, of any wrongdoing whatsoever – of course, Jesus our Lord. That is what Mark wants us to see in his description of the events of that awful Thursday night now some 2,000 years ago.

Let's read it together.

Mark chapter 14, verse 53:

"They led Jesus away to the high priest; and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes gathered together. Peter had followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the officers and warming himself at the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, and they were not finding any. For many were giving false testimony against Him, but their testimony was not consistent. Some stood up and began to give false testimony against Him, saying, 'We heard Him say, 'I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.'' Not even in this respect was their testimony consistent. The high priest stood up and came forward and questioned Jesus, saying, 'Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?' But He kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him and saying to Him, 'Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?' And Jesus said, 'I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.' Tearing his clothes, the high priest said, 'What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?' And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death. Some began to spit at Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him with their fists, and to say to Him, 'Prophesy!' And the officers received Him with slaps in the face."

What I want you to understand and I don't want you to miss is that the trial that we have just read about was intended by the authorities to prove the guilt of Jesus and yet exactly the opposite was true. Now Mark begins by describing the setting of the Jewish trials. Notice verse 53: "They led Jesus away to the high priest…" The gospels together – if you put all of the four gospels together, they present a very cohesive picture of what happened that night. Not a single gospel gives the whole story but together, woven together, we get a very clear picture. Jesus' legal ordeal began, as we have already studied, with His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane probably around midnight on Thursday night. That arrest was followed by a series of six different judicial proceedings. First, there were three Jewish trials, three ecclesiastical trials. The first one was an arraignment before Annas probably somewhere between 12 and 1. We can't be absolutely sure of the timeframes; these are estimates. Only John the apostle records that the Roman soldiers delivered Jesus first to Annas. That's in John 18:13-24. Present at this sort of preliminary hearing were Annas, the arresting temple police, there was a gatekeeper to his house which figures into the story, and John and Peter. We'll talk about that in a moment.

This was held in the upper rich side of the city of Jerusalem. This is what Jerusalem looked like in Jesus' time. You see the, the white square in there in the center representing the temple mount. Everything was built around that. You had the lower city which was the, the part of real estate that was literally lower in topography and, just as today, therefore of less value. The upper city was also elevated in height and therefore it was most attractive because then, as now, people want to build up. And particularly in Jerusalem, you wanted to get the afternoon breezes across and so you wanted elevation. This is a depiction of the city of Jerusalem looking from the south side. You'll see the red roofs there marked as the upper city. That's, somewhere in that area would have been where Annas would have lived.

So after the Roman cohort and the Jewish police arrested Jesus in the Garden, they took Jesus first to Annas. It was there that the first phase of the Jewish trial took place. And it was also there, by the way, that at Annas' gate where Peter's first denial occurred. When you put all the stories together, Peter not only denied our Lord three times; he actually denied Him four times. The first one comes at the house of Annas at his gate.

Now while Caiaphas was busy assembling the Sanhedrin for the next phase of the trial, Annas took this opportunity to question Jesus in a brief preliminary hearing in the courtyard outside of his home. Now undoubtedly, Annas did this both out of curiosity as well as a desire to discover evidence that could be used against Him. You'll find this described; in fact, look at John 18 for a moment. John 18 - this first phase of the Jewish trial is described in John 18 beginning in verse 13. John says: "They led Jesus to Annas first (Jesus was bound after He was arrested and led to Annas); he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year." He goes on to describe what happened, verse 15: "Simon Peter was following Jesus, and so was another disciple (that's John, that's how John refers to himself). Now that disciple (John) was known to the high priest, and entered with Jesus into the court of the high priest, but Peter was at the door outside. So the other disciple (John), who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the doorkeeper, and brought Peter in. This is when the slave-girl who kept the door said to Peter, 'Aren't you one of His disciples?' And Peter said, 'I am not.' Now the slaves and the officers were standing there, having made a charcoal fire, for it was cold and they were warming themselves; and Peter was standing there with them." So that's the account.

Annas – who is this man Annas? Well, he was the most powerful Jewish man in Israel. He served as high priest for nine years and then five of his sons would eventually serve in that position. In fact, there were four families in the first century that controlled the high priesthood. This was by far the most powerful one. Annas' son-in-law was Caiaphas, the current high priest. Understand this man was not primarily a religious man. When you think of high priest, you think of someone who's deeply spiritual. This was a political position first and foremost. Josephus tells us that they bought this position. This man was a Sadducee. He was a powerful, ruthless politician. It was to this man that the guard first took Jesus.

Now what's going on here? Well, as in our own legal system, the accused was presumed innocent until he was proven guilty. So an arrest had to be followed by an arraignment. That was the legal process by which a formal criminal charge was made against the person before a judge. Technically, this hearing before Annas was Jesus' arraignment. If we had time, I would show you that it is illegal in almost every possible way. But Annas' question, questioning of Jesus did serve one purpose and that was it allowed time for his son-in-law, Caiaphas, to assemble at least a quorum of the Sanhedrin. By then, it was probably somewhere between 1:30 and 2.

Now Annas and Caiaphas may very well have shared a courtyard, a common courtyard. At the very least, they didn't live very far apart because, as I showed you, there was only one part of ancient Jerusalem where the wealthy and influential lived and both of them would have lived there. So Annas sends Jesus across the courtyard to the house of his son-in-law, Caiaphas. Annas is now transferring Jesus' case to the Sanhedrin as if there were plenty of evidence to indict Him. The illegal arraignment of Jesus Christ was over and it was frankly a joke. It was a gross miscarriage of justice.

But that brings us to the second phase of this Jewish trial - not only the arraignment before Annas, but that was followed by a hearing before a quorum of the Sanhedrin at the house of Caiaphas. Matthew, Mark and Luke all record that immediately following the questioning by Annas, probably again around 2 a.m., there was a meeting at the house of Caiaphas. The wording leads us to believe that the large majority of the Sanhedrin were there, but at the very least a quorum. It's this hearing that is described in the passage that we're gonna look at tonight.

But let me just give you the rest of what happened. That was followed by a third phase of the Jewish trial, also reported by Matthew, Mark and John. And it occurred just after the first sign of light on the eastern horizon, probably around 5 to 5:30 a.m. And it was a formal meeting of the Sanhedrin in its normal meeting place in the temple courts according to Luke 22:66. The entire Sanhedrin was present for that meeting just as daylight dawned and it's recorded in a number of places - in Matthew, Mark and Luke.

Now what's the charge in the Jewish phase of the trial? The charge, as we will see, was blasphemy. And that was the charge that was reconfirmed at this third formal meeting of the Sanhedrin just after daybreak. As the result of that verdict at the third Jewish trial, they immediately took Jesus to Pilate. Why? Because we're told in a variety of ways that the Sanhedrin could not put anyone to death. So two things had to change before Jesus could die. One: the jurisdiction had to change. The Romans had to become involved. And secondly, the charge against Jesus had to change because the Romans had already proven that they were unwilling to put someone to death based on a religious debate and issue. The charge of blasphemy against Jesus would not have been sufficient for the Romans and so they changed the charge against Jesus from the Jewish trial where it's blasphemy, the Roman trials it becomes sedition. In fact, look at this with me. Look at Luke chapter 23. Luke 23:2. When they bring Jesus before Pilate, notice what the accusation is: "We found this man misleading our nation, forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Messiah, a King." This all has to do with its impact on the Roman Empire. Notice again verse 5: "They kept on insisting, saying, 'He stirs up the people, teaching all over Judea, starting from Galilee even as far as this place.'" He stirs up the people. There is a risk, Pilate, to the control of Rome. And then look down in verse 14: "Pilate says to them, 'You brought this man to me (here it is) 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 you make against Him.'" So in the Jewish trials, the issue is blasphemy; but when it comes to the Romans, it's changed to sedition.

Now after these Jewish trials, there's, remember the third one takes place just at the break of light, even before dawn really. Just when light is breaking, they legally could meet so they meet in the temple courts. And shortly after that, there were three Roman trials or criminal trials. The first one is before Pilate. The second one is before Herod. When Pilate heard that Jesus was from Galilee, Herod was down for the Feast of Passover. They probably, as we'll see, were sharing the palace. There was a common courtyard between them and so he sends Him directly across to Herod nearby. Herod questions Him, but refused to hear the case and he then returns it to Pilate. And so Jesus is sent back to Pilate for the third phase of the Roman trial. In that trial, Jesus was again declared innocent, but then unjustly condemned to death in spite of the fact He was found innocent of the charges of sedition. In fact, Pilate does everything he can to get Jesus released, you're familiar with the story, because he doesn't believe He's guilty of the charges of sedition.

Here's the important point in all of this. This is what I want you to see. Jesus was found completely innocent of sedition, the charge against Him in the Roman trials. I read that to you in Luke 23:14. So in reality, Jesus is put to death because of what happened not in the Roman trials, but in the Jewish trials. In the first arraignment before Annas, He was just questioned about the disciples, about His disciples and His teaching. Nothing really happened there. The third trial right after daybreak was merely a formality. So what I want you to see is, in the record of the second Jewish trial, we discover the real reason Jesus was crucified. And it is in the paragraph I read to you in Mark's gospel that this second Jewish trial is discovered. The reason Mark includes it is because it is absolutely key to what transpires. It's hard to know if we should call this a, a trial, an illegal trial or an informal hearing but, whatever it was, it violated all the standards of Biblical justice.

Let's look at it together. Look at verse 53 back in Mark 14: "They led Jesus away to the high priest; and all the chief priests and elders and scribes gathered together." Annas has already questioned Jesus and now at least a quorum of the Sanhedrin has assembled in the upper room of Caiaphas' adjacent home, which was apparently open to the courtyard below. We, we hear in Mark 14:66 a description of Peter being in the courtyard below where they were meeting so apparently there was a large upper room at Caiaphas' home. That's where the hearing was held and Peter is down below on the court, the open courtyard.

In fact, this is what a upper-class typical home in the upper city was like. This is a rendition from the Jerusalem model there in Israel. You can see that this home, it's built so that there's a central gate into which you enter and the rest is, isolates you from the city, but in the center of an upper class home would have been an open-air courtyard. And you can see on the back side of it there would have been an upper room, a meeting place. This is likely the, the setup at Caiaphas' home.

Now who is Caiaphas? Well, Matthew tells us that Caiaphas was the high priest that year. In fact, Caiaphas was the high priest from 18 A.D. to 37 A.D. That tells you something about how powerful he was because most high priests of the time only stayed high priests for a couple of years. He was the son-in-law of Annas. He married into the most powerful family in the nation and he was a powerful man.

So at the second phase of the Jewish trial, Annas is there, Caiaphas is there as well as a quorum if not all of the Sanhedrin. The wording implies there were, there was a large number represented and perhaps all of them, but certainly a quorum would have been present. This was a meeting of the Sanhedrin. It was the highest court of the Jews, the highest political authority in the land - 71 men, 70 elders and scribes plus the high priest who served as the president of the body. Their meetings were normally held at the temple, but this was the group that now convened around 2 a.m. early on that Friday morning at Caiaphas' upper room.

Mark provides one other important piece of information about the setting of this second Jewish trial. Look at verse 54: "Peter had followed Jesus at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the officers and warming himself at the fire." Now although all of the disciples, we already learned this, had fled when Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane, two of them, Peter and John, rallied and followed Jesus at a distance to the home of the high priest. As we saw in John 18, John knew the high priest. He manages to get into that initial hearing in the home of Annas. Peter has to stand at the gate. He goes back out, gets Peter. Peter denies the Lord at that gate. They enter in and they both witness this preliminary hearing. It appears –we can't be absolutely certain of this because John isn't mentioned, but it appears that John at this second phase of the trial actually goes into the upper room because of his familiarity with the family and Peter is left alone down in the courtyard with the temple guard.

The one important point I want you to see from this is it makes both Peter and John witness to these proceedings. That means John and Jesus and perhaps Peter could all testify of what was done and said during both Jesus' arraignment and the second phase of this trial before Caiaphas. So here's Peter. He's sitting with the officers; that is, with the temple police because the Roman soldiers, having delivered Jesus without incident to the home of the high priest, probably went back to the fortress Antonia.

Now Jerusalem sits at twenty-five hundred feet above sea level. And if you've ever been in Jerusalem, even in the summer much less in April, the nights can be quite cold. So Peter is here warming himself in front of a charcoal fire in that open courtyard of the high priest.

Why did Peter come? Well, there are several possible reasons. Obviously, he wanted to validate his boasts from earlier that evening that though all others may forsake You, I will remain loyal, I'll stay with You. I think obviously Peter loved Christ and I think his love for Christ drove him to be there, but he also wanted to see what was gonna happen. Listen to Matthew 26:58 - "Peter was following Him at a distance… and he entered in and sat down with the officers to see the outcome." He wanted to know what was gonna happen to Jesus. This was unthinkable. Remember, he's the one who pulled the sword out in Gethsemane to defend Christ and he wants to know what's gonna happen.

But the story after verse 54 returns to its main character, to Jesus, and we see the purpose of the Jewish trial. Look at verse 55: "Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death..." Notice that phrase – they were "trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death." That phrase is what prompted the great commentator, William Hendriksen, to write: "In the annals of jurisprudence, no travesty of justice ever took place that was more shocking than this one." It was clear from the beginning – this is what Mark wants us to see. It was clear from the beginning that this was a kangaroo court. Although the charge was not yet decided, the verdict already had been. It was a mock court, setup in violation of established legal procedure and characterized frankly by complete dishonesty.

Now we don't know for sure if this is true, but if the same rules were in place in the time of Jesus that are required in the second century A.D. Mishnah, then the trial of Jesus violated clear Jewish law in several ways. The Mishnah stated that no capital trial was to be allowed during the night; that no one could be tried if they were brought to be accused as the result of a bribe and the arrest of Jesus was in fact the result of a bribe; that no one could be forced to incriminate themselves at their initial hearing or at their trial. And of course, Jesus was repeatedly asked to incriminate Himself. The Mishnah said that in capital punishment cases, the sentence could not be pronounced on the same day as the conviction. There had to be time for it all to be digested, for, to make sure that in fact justice was done.

But all of that said, there was one massive loophole and it's the one Caiaphas apparently took. According to rabbinic law, all normal due process could be swept aside if Caiaphas determined that the trial, conviction and execution of Jesus was in 'the interest of the people and the Jewish religion'. It was the first century equivalent of national security or a clear and present danger and this is what they had determined was at stake. Early on, the Pharisees in Galilee, early in Jesus' ministry, had determined that He had to go. In Mark chapter 3, you remember we saw this, the Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him as to how they might destroy Him. That was early in His ministry. And throughout His ministry, the leaders of the nation had spies watching Him and listening to Him for anything that would incriminate Him. About two months before this day, about two months before Jesus' arrest and crucifixion was the raising of Lazarus. And in John 11, we're told that as a result of the resurrection of Lazarus, the Sanhedrin met together and made a formal decision to kill Jesus. That was two months before.

But the real reason that they wanted to get rid of Jesus had nothing to do with national security. It was transparent to everyone, even to Pilate. Mark 15:10 says, "Pilate was aware that the chief priests had handed Jesus over (not for national security but) because of envy." They didn't like His leeching their power by having a following among the people.

Earlier that week on Monday of the Passion Week, Jesus had cleansed the temple, you remember, and thrown out all the money changers. Guess who got the proceeds from those sales? Annas and Caiaphas. On Tuesday, Jesus had indicted all of the leadership on the temple mount with thousands of people around and He'd pronounced His seven woes in which He had said they were a bunch of snakes and robbers and they were, they were hypocrites filled like a grave with dead men's bones. As a result of all of that, Mark 14:1 says, "Now the Passover and Unleavened Bread were two days away; and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize Him by stealth and kill Him…" We're now in the early hours of Friday morning. And in desperation, they keep on trying to find some testimony, however suspect it might be, that would allow them to convict Jesus of a capital offense. Of course, they would have been thrilled to have legitimate witnesses against Jesus, but Matthew and Mark and Luke all make it clear that in the end that didn't matter. The trial is nothing but a farce, an intentional miscarriage of justice. Jesus, they've already decided, is going to die. They're just looking for a reason to do it.

Now that brings us to the failure of the Jewish trial. Look again at verse 55: "Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, and they were not finding any." In the Jewish judicial system, there was no prosecutor like there is in ours. Instead, the witnesses served as kind of lay prosecutors. And so the leadership of the nation kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus, find witnesses that could have a coherent story and some accusation that was worthy of the death penalty, but they kept on coming up short.

Now how did they keep on seeking this testimony? Well, we don't know for sure, but we do know that later in Acts 6:11, the Sanhedrin absolutely suborned perjury against Stephen. We read there: "They secretly induced men to say, 'We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.'" I think it's possible that that's what went on here. But verse 56 says "many were giving false testimony against Him." Now does that strike you as strange? It should. Remember what time it is? It's in the wee hours of the morning on that Friday morning, sometime around two, three, four o'clock in the morning. The Sanhedrin was able to call together witnesses against Jesus in the middle of the night. So clearly, these men were on standby waiting to hear of Jesus' arrest. Who were these accusers? We don't know, but if their situation is anything like most, there were many hangers-on, many religious interns, people looking to advance their careers who were eager to oblige their leaders and they came forward with many accusations.

But verse 56 says their testimony was not consistent. Now that's a problem because one of the great principles of Jewish law was that for someone to be put to death, there must be at least two witnesses – Deuteronomy 17:6. And if the testimony differed even in the most trivial details, then their entire testimony was considered inadmissible evidence. And they couldn't find two witnesses who agreed, even among those bringing false accusations.

Then something dramatic happens. Verse 57: "Some stood up (Matthew tells us two men, two men stood up) and began to give false testimony against Jesus, saying, 'We heard Him say, 'I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.''" What is that about? Well, you remember three years earlier, in the early days of His ministry, Jesus had driven the money changers out of the temple. And the leaders asked Him, 'Wait a minute. By whose authority are You doing that?' And Jesus answers this in John 2:19, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Now these men are using that as a charge against Jesus to say He threatened to destroy the temple. This was a serious charge if proven. In fact, the charge of threatening the temple could bring the death penalty. That's why this charge is brought. You remember that the prophet Jeremiah was almost executed because he was accused of predicting the temple's destruction in Jeremiah 26. But these witnesses are false witnesses. How do we know that? Well, several ways they were false – what Jesus had actually said was if you destroy this temple. He said, 'You destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up', but they've changed it into He said, 'He was going to destroy the temple.'

There's another problem. There's no record in John's gospel that Jesus ever said anything about a temple made with hands and another made without hands. The big problem is the implication of their accusation is that Jesus intended to destroy the temple out of utter disrespect for it and nothing could be farther from the truth. What did Jesus say about the temple? In Mark 11:17, He said, "'Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? (He said this is God's place and it's to be respected). But you have made it a robbers' den.'"

But in the end, even these two men were unable to get their story straight. The Mishnah required that witnesses be separately asked a series of seven questions about the circumstances of the alleged offense in order to validate their testimony. Mark reports, "Not even in this respect was their testimony consistent." We're not told exactly how their testimonies failed to be consistent, but they just weren't. And by the way, that was a serious thing for them because lying as a witness in a death penalty case made you liable for the death penalty. So there were many false witnesses, many bizarre allegations that were brought against Jesus, but not one of them stuck.

Now why is this important? What the gospel writers want you to see is that this was their entire case against Jesus Christ. The leaders had watched Him and scrutinized Him for three years looking for something to incriminate Him. And when it came to that early Friday morning, this was the best that even His enemies could do. This was the best case that they could build against Jesus – the complete misrepresentation of something that He had said three years before. That absolutely underscores Jesus' spotless innocence. I think if people were to investigate and scrutinize our lives and statements as much as Jesus' life and statements were, there would be plenty cause to make accusation, but there was none with Him. There were no legitimate witnesses against Him, and even the false witnesses couldn't come up with a convincing story. The Jewish leaders couldn't even buy testimony against Jesus.

Now this is a powerful point for all of us. There are, listen to me carefully there are in every generation those who attempt to undermine the credibility and the integrity of Jesus Christ. We hear it and see it in our world, don't we? Just turn on the History Channel around Easter or Christmas time or any time of the year and you'll hear them spew their vitriol in an attack on the character and integrity of Jesus Christ. Read the news magazines or go to the halls of our great universities and listen as people attack the character and ministry and life of Jesus. But what I want you to see is, just like with these men, when those today who attack our Lord, who try to undermine His integrity, are dead and buried and when their bodies have turned to dust and when their names have long been forgotten, the name of Jesus will still be honored in every place on this planet.

The point Mark wants us to understand is the absolute spotless character of Jesus Christ. Why is that so important to Mark? Because by showing us that Jesus was innocent – not only before God but also before every human court – Mark is establishing Jesus' credentials to die in the place of sinners. Look back at Isaiah 53.

Isaiah 53:7. Here's what the Messiah had to be like:

"He (had to be the kind of person who) was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; He was like a (little innocent) lamb led to the slaughter, like a sheep that is silent before his shearers, so He did not open His mouth. He has to be taken away by oppression and judgment (there had to be no valid charges that will stick); and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living (not for His own transgression but) for the transgression of My people, to whom the stroke was due. His grave has to be assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death (watch this), because He had done no violence nor was there any deceit in His mouth."

That speaks of the Messiah's total moral purity. And what have we just discovered in the trial of Jesus? He's the only person who ever lived who met that standard.

The cross was the greatest miscarriage of justice in the history of jurisprudence, but that's only half the story. The cross is at the same time the greatest demonstration of God's perfect justice. Look at verse 10: "But Yahweh was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief (why?) because He was gonna render Himself as a guilt offering…" That's the reason for His death. He's gonna die for the transgression of My people, to whom the stroke is due. It was on the cross that man's injustice was most clearly seen, but it was also on the cross that God's justice was fully satisfied on behalf of every sin of every sinner who will ever believe because Jesus was the only one qualified. He was the only one who was totally morally pure and spotless, against whom an accusation could never stick. That's our Lord and Savior. Let's pray together.

Father, thank You, thank You so much for letting us look in over, as it were, the shoulder of Jesus and to see what happened that night. Thank You for the presence of Peter and John – validated that, spoke as witnesses to it. But Father, we rejoice in what we see of our glorious Lord – that He was the only spotless one, the only one against whom the spiritual leaders of the nation couldn't find a single valid charge. Thank You, O God, that He was qualified to bear the stroke of the transgression that was due to us. Thank You that it pleased You to crush Him, to render Him the perfect one, the innocent one, the spotless one, as a guilt offering for our sins. We praise You, O God. We love You and we want to live our lives expressing our love and gratitude for what You have done for us in Jesus Christ. Help us to that end. We pray in His name. Amen.

The Memoirs of Peter