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The Religious Trials

And they all said, “Are You the Son of God, then?” And He said to them, “Yes, I am.”
–Luke 22:70

Before His death, Jesus underwent six trials; the first three were religious trials. John 18:13 says, “[They] led Him to Annas first; for he was father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.” Annas was a previous high priest. The religious leaders thought if they got his stamp of approval, they would be home free. So they took Jesus to Annas, who questioned Him about His teachings. Jesus said, “I spoke nothing in secret. Why do you question Me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them; they know what I said” (vv. 20-21). Then one of the officers struck Jesus and said, “Is that the way You answer the high priest?” Jesus answered, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me?” (vv. 22-23). What court of law do you know where physical violence is allowed? The whole thing was a sham.

The religious leaders did not have an answer for Jesus, so they took Him to Caiaphas. That was the second trial. Look at Matthew 26:63-65: “The high priest said to Him, ‘I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.’ Jesus said to him, ‘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.’ Then the high priest tore his robes and said, ‘He has blasphemed!’” Why was Caiaphas so upset? Jesus was quoting Daniel 7:13, which was a prophecy about the coming Messiah. He was saying, “I am the Son of God. I am equal to God Himself.” That sent Caiaphas over the edge. In verses 65-66, he said, “‘You have now heard the blasphemy, what do you think?’ They answered. ‘He deserves death!’”

That led to the third trial, the trial before the Sanhedrin, around 6 a.m. The Sanhedrin was kind of like the Supreme Court of Israel. It comprised seventy elders, and Caiaphas was the presiding officer. Look at Luke 22:70: “And they all said, ‘Are You the Son of God, then?’ And He said to them, ‘Yes, I am.’” Make no doubt about it: Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. A lot of people say, “I believe Jesus was a great teacher, a tremendous moral example.” Sorry, that is not an option. C. S. Lewis famously explained why you cannot say with any intellectual honesty that Jesus was just a good man. The fact is, He claimed to be the Son of God. Because of this, Lewis said, there are only three possibilities about who He was. One, He was a liar who went around trying to trick people. That does not sound like a tremendous moral example. Two, He was a lunatic. He thought He was the Son of God, even though He was not. There is only one other alternative, and that is Jesus is Lord. He is who He claimed to be. And if Jesus is Lord, then you and I have to take seriously everything He said. He said there is a heaven and there is a hell. He said there is only one way to escape hell, and that is through faith in Him. Jesus claimed to be God because He was God.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “God On Trial” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.

C. S. Lewis, “Mere Christianity” (1952; repr., New York: HarperOne, 2007), 50-51.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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