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Mockery and Weeping (Matthew 26:57-75)

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

“Mockery and Weeping”

(Matthew 26:57-75)

Series: God’s Fulfilled Promise [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

November 1, 2020

The Passage

Matthew 26:57-75

57 Those who had arrested Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had convened. 58 Peter was following him at a distance right to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and was sitting with the servants to see the outcome.

59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they could put him to death, 60 but they could not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. Finally, two who came forward 61 stated, “This man said, ‘I can destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”

62 The high priest stood up and said to him, “Don’t you have an answer to what these men are testifying against you?” 63 But Jesus kept silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

64 “You have said it,” Jesus told him. “But I tell you, in the future you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? See, now you’ve heard the blasphemy. 66 What is your decision?” They answered, “He deserves death!” 67 Then they spat in his face and beat him; others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah! Who was it that hit you?”

69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant girl approached him and said, “You were with Jesus the Galilean too.” 70 But he denied it in front of everyone: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

71 When he had gone out to the gateway, another woman saw him and told those who were there, “This man was with Jesus the Nazarene!” 72 And again he denied it with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”

73 After a little while those standing there approached and said to Peter, “You really are one of them, since even your accent gives you away.” 74 Then he started to curse and to swear with an oath, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed, 75 and Peter remembered the words Jesus had spoken, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Introductory Comments:

Have you ever said something or heard something said that changed the entire environment of where it was said? Perhaps you yelled something at your mom or dad that you instantly regretted. Perhaps someone leveled a great insult at someone. One of my favorite insults in a movie is in The Sandlot where one young baseball player yells at an opposing player, “You play ball like a girl!” That moment changed the environment among those young boys that day. Possibly the most famous of these monumental phrases said in a movie is when Darth Vader tells Luke Skywalker that he is his father. 

Well, in today’s passage, there are two moments where something is said that changes everything.

We’re going to discover what was said by Jesus at one point and Peter at another in two different sections of this passage. 

Before we study these sections, let’s pray together. 

(prayer)

We are continuing our series in the book of Matthew. Today, we’re going to conclude chapter 26 as we study two popular occurrences during the last days of Jesus. 

The first section that we will look at is . . .

I. Jesustrial (vv. 57-68) [on screen]

Remember, Jesus has been betrayed by Judas, arrested by a mob sent by the Jewish leaders, and abandoned by His disciples. Now, Jesus faces a trial of sorts before He is condemned to death. 

Let’s look at this passage to see what is happening. Look with me if you will at verses 57-61. 

57 Those who had arrested Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had convened. 58 Peter was following him at a distance right to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and was sitting with the servants to see the outcome.

59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they could put him to death, 60 but they could not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. Finally, two who came forward 61 stated, “This man said, ‘I can destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’” 

So, here is a crowd of Jewish leaders, gathered at the courtyard of the high priest. They have one intention, to find some information that they can use to condemn Jesus to death. 

Notice from verse 59 that they don’t even care if the information is true. The challenge for them is, since most of the accusations that were being leveled against Jesus were false, they couldn’t get any stories to match up in order to draw a solid case against Jesus. 

They didn’t have the authority to put Jesus to death and they couldn’t just turn Him over to the Romans for execution. So, they had to have a legitimate reason to arrest Jesus, then they would later try to find a legitimate reason to have Him killed by the Romans. 

We see in verses 60-61 that finally two came forward who shared the same story about something Jesus did. They say that Jesus said, “I can destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.”

Actually, Jesus did say something like this, but that is not exactly what He said. We learn in John 2 what Jesus actually said. John tells us,

19 Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up in three days.”

20 Therefore the Jews said, “This temple took forty-six years to build, and will you raise it up in three days?”

21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 So when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the statement Jesus had made. [on screen]

You see, Jesus was prophesying about His body, not the temple in Jerusalem. Nevertheless, the Jewish leaders considered this to be a big problem because they thought Jesus was planning to destroy the actual temple. So, although they finally agreed on a charge against Jesus, it was still not a legitimate accusation. 

Notice, also, what the beginning of verse 58 says: “Peter was following him at a distance . . .”

This says so much about what Jesus had already prophesied concerning Peter and it says so much about what Peter will say in just a few verses. 

You see, Peter clearly loves Jesus and he is clearly interested in what is going on. However, Peter wants to keep his distance. He doesn’t want to get too caught up in everything. He’s already seen Jesus get arrested and He has a good feeling that things may not go well. So, he follows at a distance. 

Well, the high priest realizes things aren’t going well also, so he tries to press Jesus to speak to these accusations. Let’s see what happens. Look at verses 62-68. 

62 The high priest stood up and said to him, “Don’t you have an answer to what these men are testifying against you?” 63 But Jesus kept silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

64 “You have said it,” Jesus told him. “But I tell you, in the future you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? See, now you’ve heard the blasphemy. 66 What is your decision?” They answered, “He deserves death!” 67 Then they spat in his face and beat him; others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah! Who was it that hit you?”

He’s trying to get Jesus to say something regarding all the accusations leveled against Him, most of which everyone knows are false. 


However, let’s recall this prophecy about Jesus from Isaiah 53:7:

He was oppressed and afflicted,

yet he did not open his mouth.

Like a lamb led to the slaughter

and like a sheep silent before her shearers,

he did not open his mouth. [on screen]

Jesus didn’t need to defend Himself. This moment was ordained before the world ever began. Jesus knows no matter what He says, they will eventually condemn Him to death anyways. 

Seemingly frustrated, the high priest then levels a charge of a solemn oath that, according to Jewish tradition, Jesus would be forced to answer.

Look again at verse 63. The high priest says, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

Since the high priest was asking for it, Jesus gave it to Him. Jesus said, “You have said it.” Basically, meaning that Jesus was not refuting what the high priest said about Him. 


However, to remove any question Jesus went further, stating, “But I tell you, in the future you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

With this statement, Jesus dropped the hammer. “Why,” you might ask? Well, in this one statement Jesus is referencing two Old Testament passages that make it clear that He is not just the Messiah, He is the Son of God and, indeed, God Himself. 

Let’s see what the Old Testament says about this. First of all, check out Psalm 110:1-2 concerning the One who sits at the right hand of power:

1 This is the declaration of the Lord

to my Lord:

“Sit at my right hand

until I make your enemies your footstool.”

2 The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion.

Rule over your surrounding enemies. [on screen]

Also, listen to the words of Daniel 7 concerning One coming on the clouds of heaven:

. . . and suddenly one like a son of man

was coming with the clouds of heaven.

He approached the Ancient of Days

and was escorted before him.

14 He was given dominion

and glory and a kingdom,

so that those of every people,

nation, and language

should serve him.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion

that will not pass away,

and his kingdom is one

that will not be destroyed. [on screen]

In essence, Jesus is saying, “I’m not just the Messiah, I am the Son of Man, I am the One who sits at the right hand of the Father, I am the One who comes on the clouds, my enemies will bow before me, I have everlasting dominion, all the peoples of the nations will serve me, and my kingdom will never be destroyed!”

Well, the religious leaders didn’t care much for Jesus’ statement.

The high priest said, “He has blasphemed!” He accompanied this accusation of blasphemy with the tearing of his robe, which was a sign of extreme disgust and distress to signify when one witnessed blasphemy. 

They didn’t need any more witnesses. The evidence that Jesus provided against Himself by this statement was enough in their eyes to condemn Him to death. Look at verse 66 again: “What is your decision?” They answered, ‘He deserves death!’”


Then, the humiliating treatment of Jesus began. They struck Him, spit on Him, and mocked Him as a false prophet and false messiah. 

This is the unjust treatment that our Lord received at this so-called trial of justice. 

Behold, Jesus’ trial. 


Next, see . . .

II. Peter’s denial (vv. 69-75) [on screen]

Jesus had predicted that this moment would come and, indeed, it did. Let’s look at verses 69-75. 

69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant girl approached him and said, “You were with Jesus the Galilean too.” 70 But he denied it in front of everyone: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

71 When he had gone out to the gateway, another woman saw him and told those who were there, “This man was with Jesus the Nazarene!” 72 And again he denied it with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”

73 After a little while those standing there approached and said to Peter, “You really are one of them, since even your accent gives you away.” 74 Then he started to curse and to swear with an oath, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed, 75 and Peter remembered the words Jesus had spoken, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

The so-called trial has gone down, at a distance, Peter is sitting outside the courtyard of the high priest’s residence. Peter is then approached three different times as someone who was one of Jesus’ followers. All three times, Peter denied that he knew Jesus.

He denied that he was with Jesus, he took an oath to declare that he didn’t know Jesus, and finally he swore he was not a follower of Jesus to the point that he called curses on himself if he was.

Matthew tells us that it was at this final denial that a rooster crowed and Peter realized what had happened. 

Verse 75 says, “ . . . Peter remembered the words Jesus had spoken, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.”

Remember, just a few verses earlier, in 31-35, Jesus had predicted that the disciples would abandon Him and that Peter specifically would deny Him. Peter double-downed on his stance that he would never deny Jesus, saying, “Even if I have to die with you . . . I will never deny you.”

Yet, here is Peter, denying the Lord Jesus three times. 

Notice, very importantly, how Peter responds. Matthew says that Peter wept bitterly. 

Peter was obviously heartbroken that he had denied his Lord. 

We know from the rest of the New Testament that Peter would repent and recommit himself to Jesus. He would go on to preach one of the greatest sermons in human history, help open the door of the Gospel to those outside of Jerusalem, and serve as one of the foundational leaders of the early church. 

These verses show us a glaring example of the weakness of man and what follows later in the Bible is a beautiful display of God’s grace in the life of Peter. 

God would go on to show Himself to the world through the ministry of Peter. However, it was in this moment that Jesus Christ was dishonored and denied by one of those closest to Him. 

Behold, the denial of Peter. 

Concluding Thoughts:

Sometimes these events that we’re studying may seem to be part of a grand story that is beyond reality. However, this really happened to Jesus and it really does change the course of human history. 

Let’s reflect upon this reality with this bottom line:

Bottom Line: The One who deserved all honor would be tragically dishonored[on screen]

(repeat)

Jesus is the King of the universe and is worthy of all glory, honor, and praise. Yet, He would endure an unjust trial, and be dishonored by those closest to Him. 

All of this happened as part of God’s plan to bring us new life. All of this was part of God’s fulfilled promise. 

Let us forever be changed because of Jesus. 


Challenge yourself this week to live out the truths of this passage in the following ways:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

1. Commit not to make a mockery of Jesus[on screen]

Some who profess the name of Jesus actually end up making a mockery of Jesus in our lives. We equate following Jesus with simple moralism. We teach that following Jesus means everything will go well with us. We confuse following Jesus with following a particular political party or candidate. 

Let’s really follow Jesus. Let’s get down to the fundamentals. Let’s love God. Let’s love the church. Let’s love others. Let’s sacrifice. Let’s forgive. Let’s have great faith. 

Let’s stop making a mockery of Jesus like those at the sham of a trial that night in the high priest’s courtyard. Commit to that this week. 

2. Commit not to deny Jesus. [on screen]

Some of you may have outright denied Jesus. You don’t pretend to follow Him. You know that you don’t follow Him! Let me encourage you this week to commit not to deny Jesus any longer. Give your life to Jesus. He’ll change you forever. 

Some of us may follow Jesus now, but we may not be ready for when times get difficult. We may be like the apostles when they fled or Peter when he denied Jesus three times. 

Ask God to increase your faith and increase your love for Jesus. 

May the words of Paul in Romans Romans 1:16 be true for all of us: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes . . .” [on screen]

Commit this week not to deny Jesus. 

Closing:

Have you been changed by Jesus? If so, live for Him! If not, what is keeping you from following Jesus?

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

(Sing Doxology)

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