Jesus’ Death Makes A Difference (Matthew 26-27)

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One evening in an American city two men pulled up in a car and stopped at a traffic signal.[1] On the prowl the two men saw a young woman walking alone on the sidewalk. They followed the woman to an apartment complex and seized her, and then took her to an empty schoolground to do horrible and hellish actions. The men realized the young woman could identify them if she was left alive so they murdered her and left her body to be found by school children the next day.

Back at the apartment complex some residents had heard screams and noted the make and model of a strange car that was in the area at the time of the screams. The residents shared their account and information with the police who later in the coming days were able to track down the vehicle which had blood stains on the door handles and the murder knife covered with blood in the back seat. The two men were apprehended and a community was able to breathe a slight sigh of relief.

The men were charged and tried separately. The defense lawyer, while acknowledging the actions of the first man to be tried, sought to prove that he was unduly influenced by the second man and thus not legally guilty. The jury was unconvinced and returned a verdict of guilty on all counts; but a three judge panel that was convened to determine whether the man should receive the death penalty or life imprisonment failed to reach the unanimous decision required for death.

Now the community was outraged at the failure of the judicial panel to sentence the man to death. Regardless of what one may think of the death penalty, the people in that community felt that justice had been violated. They believed the man did not receive the penalty he deserved. They wanted justice not mercy.

From the outside we scream for justice but if we are the guilty insiders, we cry for mercy.

The Bible tells us that all of us will eventually face a judgment trial before an all-knowing, holy God (Hebrews 9:27). As we consider that inevitable day, what do we want: justice or mercy?

God’s justice is inflexible and unescapable.

–          2Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”

–          2Thess 1:6-8 “God is just: He will pay back and punish those who do not know God”

–          1Peter 4:2 “they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”

Judgment is coming. This message will view the judgment of Jesus and how that makes a difference for us today.

EXAMINE                     Matthew 26-27

Jesus was judged dishonestly.

The Jews prided themselves on their sense of right and fairness. The OT foundation for trial judgments has essentially been a foundational system for the world to follow, including USA. Justice included: a public trial, a right of defense, and evidential proof based on more than a single witness.

Deuteronomy 16:18-20 “You shall appoint judges and officers in all your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous. Justice and only justice you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the LORD your God is giving you.”  

Deuteronomy 19:15-19 A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses shall a charge be established. If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, then both parties shall appear before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days. The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”

Yet, the Jewish religious leaders viewed Jesus as a threat to their power, their prestige, and their pride. Their trial neglected justice and Jesus was judged dishonestly. The trial of Jesus was the most unjust, undeserving, dishonest trial in all human history.

Matthew 26:55 “At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, ‘Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me.”

The Jews captured Jesus at night against procedures of justice. They feared the majority public with whom Jesus was popular, so they schemed a night-time arrest.

Matthew 26:57-68 The Jews seized Jesus and led him to the high priest Caiaphas with the scribes and elders. The chief priests and Sanhedrin sought to judge Jesus with false testimony and sentencing for blasphemy. The entire trial was a set-up with a pre-determined outcome.

Jesus was being judged but one day would return the judgment (26:64 “from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”)

The Jewish religious leaders were not merciful but mischievous and malicious. They judged Jesus worthy of death and spit in his face while hitting him (26:57).

The Jews did not have legal authority to execute Jesus. They had religious authority while Rome controlled political and military power. Therefore, the Jews sent Jesus to the Roman Governor Pilate.

Matt 27:11-44

Pilate questioned Jesus while the Jewish religious leaders listed erroneous accusations against Jesus. Those accused and facing a death sentence would likely have voiced a vigorous defense. However, Jesus did not respond to a single charge, which greatly amazed Pilate.

Luke 23:6-12 tells us that Pilate sent Jesus to Herod. Based on the context, Pilate sent Jesus to Herod for two likely reasons: 1) jurisdiction purposes, 2) disassociation of responsibility. Pilate seems to want little to do with the Jews, much less a king without an army or any aggression. Nonetheless, Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate after additional poor treatment.

Pilate sought to acquit Jesus by proposing to release the lesser criminal between him and Barabbas. Pilate knew the Jews were merely delivering Jesus out of envy (27:18). Jesus was without evil (27:23). But the crowd was stubborn and bloodthirsty against Jesus, shouting repeatedly for Jesus to be crucified. So, Pilate appeased the crowd and had Jesus scourged and crucified.

In a lesser manner, you may be judged dishonestly. People may treat you differently and view you wrongly without truly knowing your character or personality. Being judged may happen at work, school, in your neighborhood, or even among your own family members.

*When you are judged dishonestly, how do you respond? You are called to trust God and treat others with grace; leave revenge to God.

–           Psalm 37 fret not…

–          1Peter 2:23 “When he was reviled he did not revile in return; when he suffered he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”

*Do you judge other dishonestly? Do you have racial attitudes or remarks, being partial or discriminating against those who you consider inferior or less intelligent. Perhaps you look down on others for living in an lower class zip code or who do not wear as nice clothing as you. Or perhaps you judge dishonestly by insulting another religion instead of investing in relationship to show that person the grace of Jesus Christ. à If you do any of these, you are discounting the image of God and equal worth of a person before God. You have faith without the proper works (cf. James 2:15-17).

Jesus was judged distressingly.

The trial of Jesus was dishonest and distressing. Before His arrest Jesus spent over an hour in anxious and ardent prayer (26:36-46). Jesus was abandoned by his closes friends (26:30 “You will all fall away”; 26:56 “all the disciples left him and fled”; 26:75 Peter denied three times). And specifically, Jesus was betrayed by a supposed friend (26:47-50; 27:3-10).

Too often readers move too quickly to the scenes of the cross without pausing to understand the emotional anxiety and affliction Jesus faced from His friends forsaking Him. Can you imagine spending at least three years of friendship only to discover the person was always plotting against you and never truly cared? Can you imagine your closest friends falling asleep and neglecting to support you in your most desperate and darkest of circumstances?

It is very distressing when relationships are burdened by selfishness and broken by sinful actions. The grief comes in like overwhelming ocean waves, and the pain pulses through your emotions and physical body.

*How should you react when relationships bring you stress and sorrow?

o   Own your part of the failure. It is likely, though not always, that you had a part in the relational process breaking down. Take responsibility and admit your wrongs, regardless if the other person ever does.

  • “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3)

o   Open yourself to the reconciliation process. If the other person owns their failure and apologizes, then your role is not to hold a grudge, grow bitter, or withhold forgiveness.

  • “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15) 

o   Refrain from rash actions. In stress and sorrow we can be tempted to take revenge, voice a defense, or make a decision that we may regret and may not be able to take back. We should follow Jesus’ example.

  • Rom 12:19-21 “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

o   Remember there is only One who is faithful and will not forsake you. Time with the Father in prayer and in His word to recall gospel promises that you are protected, loved, and cared for regardless of your circumstances is essential for your emotional healing.

  • “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?… For ___ and ___ have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.” (Psalm 27:1, 10)


Jesus was judged disgracefully.  

The trial of Jesus was dishonest, distressing, and of course His sentence was disgraceful. Jesus came in love only to receive hate and harm. Jesus was undeserving of this treatment given by the Jews and the Romans, both created by God to adore Him not destroy Him (27:20).

–          The Son of God whose hands created the world were not seized, bound and led away (26:57; 27:2).

–          The Son of God, who revealed truth and was God in the flesh was accused falsely as lying (26:60-65).

–          The Son of God, who gives and spoke words of life is condemned to death (26:66).

–          The Son of God, who had power to call down angels was spit in face (cf. Num 12:14 spitting was shameful), struck, and slapped (26:67; 27:27-30).

–          The Son of God, who created trees, was a carpenter, was forced to carry a cross and be crucified (27:31-32).

–          The Son of God suffered willingly and fulfilled the Father’s mission to reconcile us to God.


Crucifixion and the Cross

Matthew uses the word crucifixion 6x in this passage (27:22, 23, 26, 31, 35, 38).

Jesus suffered and was forsaken by His Father so that we may be forgiven.

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned— every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:4-6

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2Cor 5:21

  • God’s judgment is just and fair. Those in Christ will receive mercy; those outside of Christ will receive justice for sins committed. Christ paid the penalty for sin through His death and resurrection.
  • What areas of sin – even for the Christian – must be confessed and repented by returning to the power of the cross for forgiveness and sanctifying grace. Confession of sin includes turning away from failure and turning toward the favor and face of God.


[1] Story adapted from Jerry Bridges, The Gospel For Real Life, 2003, p.41.

[2] Much of the following information on crucifixion comes from Driscoll’s Death by Love pp 17-34, and sermon “The Cross: God Dies”, along with John Stott’s The Cross of Christ.

[3] Deuteronomy 21:23

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