Mark Part 15 begins in chapter 14 verse 53 and continues through chapter 15 verse 20. In this study we take a look at the 6 trials Jesus endured, reading the relevant passages from all four gospels. We’ll see the many inconsistencies in these trials, the complete denial of due process, and the officials’ illegal efforts to legally justify their pre-determined verdict of Guilty.
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We left off last time in Mark 14 and I believe we got down to verse—we ended on verse 52, didn’t we? And so now tonight we’ll start on verse 53.
What we’re going to do tonight is to take a look at this series of trials that the Lord underwent on the night of His arrest.
We’re now into the 24-hour period during which He will have eaten the Passover, been arrested. He’ll endure six different trials, and He will then be interrogated by flogging, and finally put on the cross and crucified, and then He will die and be buried all before this day ends.
And so this is the central day in human history, if you will. This is a day that was appointed before the foundation of Earth was laid. And now it has come to pass, and so this is an important day. We’re going to spend the time tonight discussing the events of this day.
So we’ll be reading out of all four Gospels because, like everything else that is of such importance in this, you get a little different slant on the event from each of the four Gospels because each Gospel writer was writing to a different audience, and pointed out things that he thought would be appropriate for his audience.
Matthew wrote to the Jews, Mark to the Romans, Luke to the Greeks, and John to the Church. Each one of those four writers had a little different slant on things based on what was important to his particular audience.
In Matthew, we read things that are important to the Jewish audience, and so we see a lot of references back to Old Testament prophecies and things like that in Matthew, more than you do in the other Gospels.
In Mark, we see things from the Roman perspective. The Romans were the leaders of the known world at the time and everything is looked at from their perspective in the Gospel According to Mark.
In Luke, the Greek philosophy was also strong, it was on the decline as the Romans were taking over the Greeks who had ruled the world before them. Their society had been in decline for about 400 years and yet the Greek influence was still very strong in the Middle East.
And of course the Church was just being born, and John’s job was to make a record of the things that happened in the life and times of Jesus in a way that they would be relevant to the Church.
I think when we first started this study in Mark we went through all that in more detail, and you can get the CD on our first study in Mark where we go through why there were four Gospels, why it’s necessary for there to be four Gospels, what each Gospel was intended to accomplish, how we know that from the way the Gospels each one of them is written.
I won’t go into any more detail on that tonight because we got plenty to do as it is, but if you want more on that just go to the first study in Mark. And we went through it, we spent about half of the first meeting as I recall talking about that.
So tonight we’re going to be in Mark 14, Matthew 26, Luke 22 and John 18. Not all at once! [laughing] One at a time, and we’ll just go through the four. We’re going to try to cover the time between the arrest and the actual crucifixion. So we’re looking at the evening hours, the dark hours, if you will, of this day in which all these things happened.
This was Preparation Day as we’ve talked about at length in our last study, the day before the big Feast of Unleavened Bread. It had originally been called Passover, but in the time of Jesus, it was referred to more often as Preparation Day for reasons we explained last time. So if you want to get information on that you’ll have to get the CD from our last meeting.
So let’s begin in Matthew 26. We’ll read the accounts in order, starting with Matthew and we’ll go through the four of them and we’ll get to, hopefully we’ll get through all four of them before our time runs out, or before you all fall asleep from the heat. [laughing] And so whichever happens first, that’s where we’ll stop.
Okay Matthew, and it’s at 26 and we’re starting in verse 57 I believe.
In Matthew 26:57 it says:
Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.
The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death.
You see they had already convicted Him, and they had already pronounced sentence. All that remained now is the legality, if you will, and as I’ll show you there were many things in those trials that were not legal according to their law and a good defense attorney could have gotten Him off and got a retrial and got the whole case thrown out.
But this is not a one-hour TV show like we see today where the good guys always win, this is a case where, as you’ll see, they got away with breaking a number of laws in their attempt to crucify the Lord.
And so we’ll go through some of those laws and some of those traditions; some you’ll find in the Scriptures, some are in the Jewish legal system, and some are traditions that we learned from history.
But it says “the whole Sanhedrin,” for example, and one of the things we have to point out right here is that the Sanhedrin was not permitted to meet at night. They had to meet during the day when the people had access to them. They were not allowed to have secret meetings where there wouldn’t be anyone present.
And when it says “the whole Sanhedrin,” that also, according to tradition—I was looking again for this in the Gospel account and I didn’t see it. But according to tradition they excluded the members of the Sanhedrin who they thought were probably believers.
For example I don’t think Joseph of Arimathea, or Nicodemus, two of the most prominent believers in Jesus who were both members of the Sanhedrin, I don’t believe they were there. They only had the people there who they knew would vote their way. You know, it would be like leaving a bunch of senators home and not telling them about the big vote coming because you knew they would be against it and you wanted it to pass. Okay, so those two things we see already.
It says in verse 59 they were looking for false evidence. That tells us that they knew they couldn’t convict Him on the basis of real evidence, so they had to find a way to cook something up here that could help them justify what they had already decided to do.
Verse 60 says:
They could not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.
Finally two came forward and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”
That’s a misquote of something that actually Jesus said in John 2, and we can go and look at that real quickly. John 2:19. Actually we’ll start in verse 18. This is during the time of John’s account of the cleansing of the temple so this had just happened recently. John’s Gospel is not chronologically, he put the cleansing of the temple right up in the very beginning, because John didn’t need to talk about the first three years or so of the Lord’s ministry, he only talked about the part of it that was in Judea.
In verse 12 it begins the account of the cleansing of the temple and in verse 18, after He had
done this the Jews came to Him and demanded of Him:
“What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
As an answer Jesus said to them:
“Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
Well of course, He’s talking about His own death and resurrection. He is talking figuratively of the temple as His body, and He’s saying: “Kill Me, and I’ll come again in three days.” And so, that’s what He meant by that.
But in this Matthew account what we see is a couple people had heard that and they came forward and said, “He told us that if we knocked down a temple He would build it in three days.” And so that’s where that comes from.
Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent.
And of course, this is a fulfillment of Isaiah 53 where it says:
As a sheep before its shearers is dumb, so he uttered not a word.
And so, He didn’t speak a word in His own defense, in other words.
The high priest said to him,
This is where they are able to use the law to require Him to speak. He says:
“I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ.”
Which is the Greek word for “Messiah,” the Son of God.
Now He’s under oath, and He can’t lie. And so now He has to tell the truth, He has to speak, and He has to tell the truth. And so He does.
In verse 64 He said:
“It is as you say,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: in the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Okay so there it is. He has now basically convicted Himself and this is another violation of law because it was against the law then, as it is now, to be convicted on the basis of incriminating evidence that you yourself provide. And so you don’t have to do that, in other words. It’s not required. But they couldn’t find anybody else to provide reliable evidence, so they’re stuck with this. Now they’re stuck with using His own words to convict Him.
And verse 65 says:
Then the high priest tore his clothes
Which was also illegal according to Leviticus 10:6, the high priest was not allowed to tear his clothes. It was against the law.
Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”
So he’s asking for a vote and they say:
“He is worthy of death,”
And in verse 67:
Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?”
They obviously blindfolded Him first before they had done this, as we’ll see in one of the other accounts.
Now we’re going to skip over the part where Peter disowns Jesus, we already know that part, and the part where Judas hangs himself because we went through that as well. We’re going to go over to Matthew 27:11 because we got a little farther to go in Matthew before we’re down to the crucifixion.
It’s still nighttime—and I should take this time, I think, and tell you a little personal story.
I used to take tours to Israel. I took groups of people and we went to Israel and we’d spend somewhere between ten days and two weeks over there going and looking at all the sights. We would do Bible studies on the very sights, and things like this. And I became pretty well versed with the various historical sights in Israel, and we always looked forward to going. We went in the springtime just as the grass was turning green and the weather was getting nice, but before it got too hot.
I took six of them all together, and I believe it was the fourth or fifth one (maybe the fourth one, but that doesn’t matter) we had a guide that time who asked me if we wanted to go to a place we hadn’t been to before, and I didn’t know we were going to go to it, so it was a surprise to me.
And so I said, “Well, what is?”
And he said, “Well, they’ve been working for a number of years on restoring the home of Caiaphas the high priest. And it’s right near the upper room where we’re going to go anyway. Do you want to take a little while and go and see the restored home of Caiaphas the high priest?”
And I said, “Of course we do!”
And so we just took a left instead of a right and we’d go down this hill, and there it is. It’s just south and west of the temple, and so it was right in the area where we had spent the day anyway.
And so we went into this restored home, and it’s a museum today obviously, and so we looked at all the artifacts and things and they talked about some of the stuff they’d found there. They showed us the pathway they had probably brought Him up to the house from the—because He was in the Garden of Gethsemane and He would have had to cross back across the temple mount, and then up along a flight of steps up the hill to the home of Caiaphas. His house overlooked the temple area.
And so, we’re in there looking around and then the guide said, “Come over here, I want to show you something and we’re going to have to go down some stairs to see it.”
And so he had us all line up and we went down these narrow winding stairs, and underneath the house was a jail, a holding cell, if you would, where they kept prisoners until they had figured out what to do with them.
And he said, “This is where they held Jesus until daybreak when they could take Him over to see Pilate.”
And so they showed us these places where they had chains hanging down where they had strapped people’s arms up and they held them standing up all night.
And I said, “It was in this cell here?”
And he said, “Well, no. They took Jesus to a different place. It’s right around the corner I’ll show you.”
And he took us into a room that was round and it was deeper. We had to go down some other steps to get to the bottom of it.
He said, “This was a cistern. And as you can see this door that we just came through was not here at the time.” The only way into and out of a cistern was to be lowered down on a rope.
And so what they’d do is they would bind the prisoner’s hands and they’d lower him on rope down into this cistern. And it was not full of water obviously, it was just fairly dry.
And he said, “This is where we believe they kept Jesus for those few hours before they could take Him over to see Pilate.”
Unbeknownst to me, he had pulled one of our group aside and he had told that person to, when we all got down there and grouped around him, to hit the light switch. And so all of sudden the lights go out and it’s dark in there.
And then he had that person read to us Psalm 88. Will you turn to that with me? Psalm 88.
And everywhere, standing in the dark in this cistern where we had just been told Jesus spent the last few hours before He went to the cross, and as we’re standing there in the dark we hear this voice from one of our group reading this Psalm.
O Lord, the God who saves me;
day and night I cry out before you.
May my prayer come up before you;
turn your ear to my cry.
For my soul is full of troubles
and my life draws near the grave.
I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am like one without strength.
I am set apart with the dead,
like the slain who lie in the grave,
whom you remember no more,
who are cut off from your care.
You have put me in the lowest pit,
in the darkest depths.
Your wrath lies heavily on me;
you have overwhelmed me with all your waves.
You have taken from me my closest friends
and have made me repulsive to them.
I am confined and cannot escape;
my eyes are dim with grief.
I call to you, O Lord, every day;
I spread out my hands to you.
Do you show your wonders to the dead?
Do those who are dead rise up and praise you?
Is your love declared in the grave,
your faithfulness in Destruction?
Are your wonders known in the place of darkness,
or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?
But I cry to you for help, O Lord;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Why, Lord, do you reject me
and hide your face from me?
From my youth I have afflicted and close to death;
I have suffered your terrors and am in despair.
Your wrath has swept over me;
your terrors have destroyed me.
All day long they surround me like a flood;
they have completely engulfed me.
You have taken my companions and my loved ones from me—
darkness is my closest friend.
Now can you imagine what we all felt like at that moment? I mean talk about shock, and talk about being taken off guard. I mean, the whole group was in tears by the time this was over.
We all were down there crowded into the bottom of this little dungeon. It was claustrophobic, it was dark, and it was close, and we were all a little bit uneasy anyway because we didn’t know why the lights went out or anything, he didn’t tell us any of this.
And then we heard these words, the words of the Lord, some of His last words before He died. It was amazing.
Most of all of the Psalms, you know, even the ones where David talks about what a rough time he’s having and how difficult it is for him, most of them end with some kind of: Yes, but I know You’re with me and I know you’ll save me and I know you’ll avenge my enemies. And all that. This one doesn’t end like that, does it? This one ends on a note of hopelessness.
That was my visit to the home of Caiaphas the high priest.
Okay, let’s go back to Matthew now.
Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor,
This was Pilate. And so, Matthew is skipping some of the events of the night and going to the next morning. It’s about sunrise now, and we’re going to learn some interesting things about this as we read the other accounts.
and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“Yes it is as you say,” Jesus replied.
And this is what got Him killed, by the way, under Roman law. Because it was an act of treason to proclaim yourself to be the king of a country that had been conquered by the Romans, because that was saying that you were acting in rebellion against Caesar. So it would be treason.
When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.
This is, as I said, the fulfillment of Isaiah 53.
Now it was the governor’s custom at the feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a notorious prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas.
Now it’s interesting that we’re only hearing last names here; Barabbas. This guy’s last name was bar-Abba, his first name was Jesus.
Jesus bar-Abba was his full name, but they only gave us his last name and they called him by the Greek version, Barabbas. It means son of the father, basically. And the word bar in Hebrew is son of. And so Simon bar-Jonah, Simon son of Jonah. That was the name. Today we’d say Johnson as a last name, that originally was son of John.
Okay, so this is his last name. By the way, the same is true of Barnabas; Barnabas’s first name was Joseph and his last name was bar-Naba and we again know the Greek version of it bar-Nabas or Barnabas. We think that’s his name. Well, that was his last name. His first name was Joseph. His friends called him Joe! [laughing]
Okay so they had, in verse 16, they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.
So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Christ?” For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.
Pilate wasn’t stupid, you know. He knew what was going on. He knew he’s being handled here, and he was trying to find a way out.
While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”
But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
It appears that the officials, the Jewish officials, actually had gone out—it’s only sunrise—actually had gone out and rounded up whoever they could find in the streets. Many of them were drunks and derelicts who had been up all night, and they bribed them to come and be a crowd here. This is where this idea originated of getting a whole bunch of people together and paying them money to make a spontaneous demonstration against something. And so this is what they did here.
So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release?
Well, verse 20 said:
But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.
“Barabbas,” they answered.
“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Christ?” Pilate asked.
They all answered, “Crucify him!”
“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
And here’s one of the most tragic statements in history. Verse 25:
All the people answered, “let His blood be on us and on our children!”
And boy, hasn’t it been?
Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
Okay, so there’s the Matthew version. You got some insight as to some of the things that happened. We’ll go to the Mark version next, Mark 14:53 and we’ll read Mark’s account. And so verse 53:
They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest.
We heard that before.
There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.
The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.
Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this man made temple in three days and build another, not made by man.’”
Now that’s different than what Matthew had said. And so, verse 59 says:
Yet even then their testimony did not agree.
Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.
Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”
“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Those who say that Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah never read these verses, did they?
The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”
They all condemned him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.
Now let’s skip over to Mark 15:1. Still got a little more to do here with Mark.
Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, reached a decision. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.
“Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.
“Yes it’s as you say.” Jesus replied.
The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”
But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.
And again it was the custom of the feast for a prisoner to be released. A man called Barabbas was in prison
And we go through the same thing:
“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” he said, knowing it was out of envy. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.
And so, that’s what he did. Okay, now verse 16 we’ll learn something new here:
The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
So again, you see the whole ordeal going on here. Now before we leave Mark, I want you to see Mark 15:25 because that will become important to us here in a few minutes and while we’re here we might just look at it.
It was the third hour when they crucified him.
Now, this is counting from sunrise, 6:00 in the morning. So the third hour would be 9:00, and so that ties in with other accounts that Jesus was on the cross from about 9:00 in the morning until about 3:00 in the afternoon. Well, He was on longer than that but He died about 3:00 in the afternoon.
And so, remember that when we get over to John’s account, because it’s going to look different to you. So it was the third hour, 9:00.
So here’s some of the things that were violations of their law. As I already mentioned to you, there’s a trial at night, those were not permitted. Also, they prided themselves on their mercy, and it took a unanimous vote to put anybody to death. Execution was very rare in Israel, and here’s why.
If ever they got to a point where all 71 of them (there were 71 members of the Sanhedrin) if it ever got to a point where all 71 of them were in agreement that the person they were judging was to be executed. They stopped the proceedings at that point, and they sent everybody home. We would call this a “sleep on it” rule. They had to consider this for a day and then come back together. And then if all 71 still agreed, then they would go ahead and order the punishment.
But in most cases—in many cases, I should say—the second time around somebody said, “Well wait a minute! I really don’t feel as strongly about it as I used to.” And if anybody voted against it, anybody, any one person voted against it, the deal was off. And another form of punishment was found that they thought was more merciful.
They didn’t apply the sleep on it rule with Jesus, did they? Because they had already decided what to do, they were just looking for a way to make it legal.
It was illegal because he was convicted on His own testimony, the witnesses couldn’t agree. As I’ve mentioned before, we believe the Sanhedrin was incomplete, they left off the people who they knew would vote against the death penalty.
Jesus was arrested with no formal charges ever being brought. They just went out and got Him, and that was against their law. Somebody had to file formal charges, just like it is today, before you can be arrested, somebody has to file charges. They can hold you for questioning, they can do this and that, but before you can be arrested somebody has to file charges. And this never happened in His case.
The high priest tore his garments, we’ve already talked about, and we talked about the fact that He was denied due process under their law.
As we’ll see as we go through here, I want you to look for (and we’ve seen a couple of them already) there were seven charges levied against Him and finally it was treason that got the Romans to agree. We’re going to see here why they had to have a Roman agreement before we get through.
But there were seven charges. First charge was the one we’ve looked at, that He claimed He could destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days. That was the charge they made against Him.
In John 18, we’re going to see that He was accused of being a malefactor, a bad influence on people.
In Luke 23, we’ll see that He was accused of subverting the nation of forbidding tribute to Caesar, in other words they argued that He told the people not to pay their taxes. He was accused of stirring people up, of claiming to be a king, and of claiming to be the Son of God.
These were the basic charges that are going to be leveled against Him here.
All right so now we’re going over to the Luke version, and it begins in Luke 22:63:
The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him.
We’ve already heard this from the Matthew account.
They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” And they said many other insulting things to him.
At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them.
Remember, it’s sunrise now. But it’s still the same day because the day started at sunset, and so the day runs for 24-hours. The morning is not the beginning of a new day because in the Hebrew culture, the night precedes the day and so the day starts at sundown and then you have the night first, and then the day second.
So it’s sunrise, it’s becoming the day portion, but it’s the same day.
The council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. “If you are the Christ,” they said, “tell us.”
Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the almighty God.”
They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”
He replied, “You are right in saying that I am.”
Well that did it for them.
“Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”
Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation.
Remember, I just told you that was one of the charges.
He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king.”
There’s several others.
So Pilate asked, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“Yes it is as you say,” Jesus replied.
Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”
Again, he knows that they’re trying to handle him and so he’s saying, “Look,”
But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”
On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.
And so, Pilate can’t dissuade the group, and so he’s going to try sidestep on a jurisdictional matter. He’s going to say, “Well, if He’s from Galilee, then Herod is in charge of Galilee. I’m not.” And that’s the way it was split up in those days. Pilate’s jurisdiction was Judea, which was the area around Jerusalem. Galilee was under the control of Herod. And so they are two different people there and he’s sending Him off to Herod.
When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.
That’s what Jesus does, He brings enemies together and they become friends, right?
Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.”
So he’s going to have Him beaten and sent away. That’s kind of how they worked in those days.
But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)
Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.”
But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.
All right. Here’s the introduction of Herod into the scheme. And so we’ve heard that Jesus was tried before the Sanhedrin, we’ve heard He then went to Pilate for the first time, and then Pilate sent Him to Herod, and then Herod sent Him back to Pilate. So here’s basically four of the six trials. And nobody can figure out what to do with Him except the crowd that the officials have already paid to demand His crucifixion.
Let’s go over to the fourth account, the final one, John. It begins in John 18 and this by far has the most detail. Remember John’s writing to the Church, so he wants us to know some things here.
And we’re in John 18:12. Again, this is immediately following His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Verse 12 says:
Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.
Back in John 12 ,after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and the officials met and they said, “What are we going to do? What are we going to do? If this guy keeps it up the Romans will come in and take the whole nation away from us.”
And Caiaphas says, “You fools don’t you understand? It would be expedient for one man to die to save the nation.”
And of course, that was a prophecy. He didn’t mean it that way, but that’s exactly what God had intended, that one man should die to save the people. And so from that time forward, John 12 says they looked for a way to find Him and kill Him.
So that’s when they made up their minds, because who goes around raising people from the dead? I mean, you can’t have that. Especially if He belongs to the other party, you know. He’s not one of them, He’s not one of the in-crowd, He’s not one of the elected officials.
They can’t benefit from this, they can only lose from this, because they can see His popularity growing to a point where the whole nation would start to follow Him and then the leaders would be lost.
And the Romans would come in and say, “Make these people behave!”
And they would say, “We can’t because of this guy, He’s causing all this trouble it’s not our fault!”
And they’d say, “Well, if you can’t do it I’ll find somebody who can.” And they’d kick them all out.
And in fact, that’s exactly what had happened on another issue. When you read in John 18:12 that the first person they took Jesus to was Annas. And all John says here is he was the father of the high priest that year.
Here’s the issue—he was the father in law, that’s what I thought it said, father in law—Annas had been the high priest, and the only reason he wasn’t the high priest is because he did something that displeased the Romans and they fired him and put his son-in-law in, Caiaphas, instead.
You see, after the defeat of Antiochus Epiphanes at the time of the Maccabean Revolt, which was about 165 years before Christ, the Maccabeans kind of took over. They defeated Antiochus Epiphanes, they threw the Syrians out of Israel, and for a time Israel enjoyed a period of self rule and peace and prosperity under what was called the Hasmonean dynasty because this was the family called Hasmon.
Under the Hasmonean dynasty, Israel became very strong and very powerful again. In fact they conquered back almost all of the lands that they had held under Solomon, which they hadn’t had since. They brought the country back together as one nation, they substantially enlarged the temple mount, and did great things to bring the Jewish nation back into a single unified nation under God.
The only thing wrong with it was they continued the practice that had been begun by Antiochus of selling the office of high priest to the highest bidder. And you see—in about 168 or 169 (I can’t remember right around in there) the last legitimate high priest in Israel had been murdered because one of the Jews offered money for the office of high priest.
And Antiochus said, “Gee, this could be a great source of revenue for us. If we can get the real high priest out of the way we’ll appoint this guy, he’ll pay us this huge sum, and then we’ll have our man running the country.”
Because in those days the high priest ran things, they didn’t have a king, you understand. They didn’t have a king since before the Babylonian captivity. The high priest was actually the big man in charge over there. And so, Onias III was murdered by his own brother in 168 or so B.C.
The brother took over, paid the fee, and from that point forward the office of high priest was passed around among the wealthiest families in Israel, regardless of what tribe they came from. They didn’t care whether they were Levites or not, they just cared who could pay the most.
And so whenever somebody came along and was willing to pay more money, Israel got a new high priest. And that’s kind of the way it went. And because they had installed the high priest, they had the privilege, took the privilege for themselves, of kicking him out if he did something they didn’t like.
They said, “Look, we paid for you! You’re supposed to do what we want. You can’t go off and do what you want, what do you think you are? High priest?” [laughing]
And so this Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, had been the high priest but he displeased the Romans (over something, I don’t remember what) they kicked him out of office and instead they installed his son-in-law, Caiaphas.
The reason that the crowd took Jesus, when they arrested Him soldiers took Jesus to Annas first, as they still had loyalty to him as the one they felt was the high priest. And so in John 18:12 it says they took Him first to Annas.
Okay so then after that, then they took Him to Caiaphas, as we’re going to see.
So we’re in John 18:12:
The detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year.
And the high priest was the one who had advised the Jews it would be good if one man would die for the people.
Now go down to verse 19:
Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
“I have spoken openly to the world,”
Now this is Annas doing the questioning.
“I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those people who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”
When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.
Well, it is if you’re senior to the high priest! I mean, can you imagine how this guy is going to feel when he comes before the Lord for his judgment? “You!” That was a bad move on his part, certainly a career limiter.
“If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
And so you see, here’s Annas’s questioning, now He’s going to go to Caiaphas. Okay, now we’re going to skip over to verse 28.
Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor.
By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace,
It was Passover, the holy day called Feast of Unleavened Bread was coming. If any of them defiled themselves it would take seven days to be clean, and they’d miss the whole program.
One of the ways a Jew could defile himself was going into the home of a Gentile. Pilate was a Gentile. Can you imagine the situation they’re in? They’ve got to have this favor from him, they’ve got to have him do something they can’t do, but they can’t go into his house to ask him because it would make them unclean. You think that would put them at a disadvantage, wouldn’t you?
But verse 29 says:
Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”
“If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”
Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”
Now listen to this:
“But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicated the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled.
The Jews had no right to execute anyone.
Here’s what happened. Again we go back to the time just after the Maccabean Revolt, about 165 B.C. The Syrians kept trying to get back in, obviously you know they had a good thing going there. They were kicked out but they didn’t stay out. They tried to get back in, anybody would.
And so they kept coming after the Jews again and again until finally the Jews appealed to a new power that was becoming a force in the Middle East at that time. People hadn’t heard of them much before, they came sort of out of nowhere but now all of a sudden they were there, and they had had a presence in the northern parts of the Middle East.
It was the Romans, and they were anxious to increase their influence there. The Jews were trying to get rid of the Syrians once and for all, and so they appealed to the Romans for help.
And of course, the Romans agreed and they came in and they helped get rid of the Syrians.
And for a while, they left the Middle East alone. But eventually they came back and they said, “Okay, we helped you and now we want you to become part of our empire. We’ll leave you alone, you can run your own day-to-day affairs as long as you maintain the peace. Oh by the way, the one thing we don’t want you doing is executing people. We want that right to ourselves.”
And so, they denied the Jews the right to administer capital punishment. They could impose all their other laws, everything short of capital punishment. This became a huge issue because the Jews viewed this as a loss of their national sovereignty because the right to administer your own laws is one of the issues of a sovereign nation. And so they viewed this as a threat, an actual loss of their sovereignty.
In fact, according to Josephus, a bunch of priests when upon hearing this, went marching through the city saying the Scriptures have been broken. In other words, God’s law has been broken, because they said, “The scepter has departed from Judah and Shiloh has not come.”
This was a reference to a prophecy in Genesis 49, way way back at the beginning of things, when Jacob is dying and on his deathbed he makes prophecies about what’s going to happen to each of his sons.
And Genesis 49:9 he says to Judah:
You are a lion’s cub, O Judah;
you return from the prey, O my son.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down,
like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he comes to whom it belongs
and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
Now this prophecy, as we know from looking at what happens subsequently, is a prophecy that Israel’s kings would always come from the tribe of Judah. Later on, that gets narrowed down to the family of David, and all the kings have to be from the tribe of Judah, from the family of David. Because God promised David that all the kings from that point forward would be of his branch of the family. Tribe of Judah was huge, but it gets narrowed down to the family of David.
And the scepter is a ceremonial staff like-thing that kings hold as evidence of their sovereign ability to rule; that was the symbol of their office. What Jacob had said was the scepter would not depart from Judah until he comes to whom it belongs, that was a reference to the Messiah. In other words, the kings would always come from Judah until the Messiah came to take the kingdom.
Now in the original Hebrew it says, “Until Shiloh comes.” And that’s where you got the cry of the priest down through the streets of Jerusalem, “The scepter has departed from Judah and Shiloh has not come.”
What they meant by that is, We’ve lost our sovereignty as a nation and the Messiah hasn’t come yet.
Well, little did they know that He was probably already there in their midst. He was a little boy at the time but they were wrong.
See what they should have done is looked at it the way we would look at it. We would have said, “Wow, the scepter’s departed from Judah! God said that wouldn’t happen until Shiloh comes. Let’s start looking for the Messiah, He’s got to be here somewhere!”
But of course we looked at it because we have 20/20 hindsight, right? They didn’t have that, they didn’t look at it that way. They thought that by depriving their leadership of the right to impose capital punishment that their sovereignty of a nation had been taken away, and they were now subject to Roman rule.
This is why they had to come to Pilate for permission. Otherwise, they would have just taken Jesus out and stoned Him; that was the penalty under their law. But in an interesting set of events, it turns out that a one-thousand years earlier in Psalm 22 David, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, had prophesied that the Messiah would be killed by crucifixion.
Crucifixion had not come onto the planet yet as a method of execution, but David prophesied this in Psalm 22, one-thousand years earlier. And so, had the Jews taken out and stoned Jesus as they would have under their law if they had the right, that would not have fulfilled the prophecy.
And this is why John says here in verse 32:
This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicated the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled.
You see, back in John 3, this is like the best mystery story in the world because you got these clues all over the place that verify what has to happen here, and they all have to be fulfilled.
Anybody who’s tried to make the claim that Jesus did all this coincidentally doesn’t understand the laws of probability or statistics because He had to fulfill all of 300 different prophecies. Many of which had to be fulfilled by the Lord’s enemies, but they had to be fulfilled in order for the prophecies to come true in order for God to always be right when He gives a prophecy of something. Because one of the reasons we can trust Him for our salvation is not just because He promised it to us, but because He has never, ever broken a promise.
That’s got to be very important to you. The only reason you can trust Him is because as you read the Bible and you see four-thousand years worth of an unbroken string of fulfilled prophecies, now you have a right to believe that He’ll keep His promise.
But if He had fulfilled some and broken others, if He’d done one thing and done something else, or if the Bible says one thing and we know that He really did something different, your trust would be destroyed. And of course that’s what the people who argue against the Bible, argue against the validity of Scripture, argue against the unbroken fulfillment of prophecy, that’s what they’re trying to do. At the core of it, they’re trying to get you not to trust the Bible, so that you won’t trust God.
In John 3:14 Jesus said:
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
“Lifted up” was a euphemism for put on a cross. If you go back to Numbers where He’s talking about lifting up the snake in the desert, what Moses was told to do is kill the snake and put it up on a big pole up on a hill. And then whoever looked at the snake would be cured of the snake bite. It’s a really strange formula for getting rid of the problem of poisonous snakes among the people.
I mean, He could have just said, “Snakes go away!” and they’d be gone. He could have issued everybody a snake bite kit, an antidote for the venom. But no. what He did was, He had Moses take one of the snakes, affix it to a pole, put it up on a hill, and everybody who looked at it would be cured of the snake bite.
This is a model for the Messiah, because, what do we do today? We’re dying from poison, the poison of sin. There’s no antidote, there’s no snake bite kit, there’s no way out of this. We are doomed to death. All we can do is look to the cross. And if we look to the cross we’ll be cured. And so that was the model here.
And Jesus was saying that very thing in John 3:14, “That was a model of Me because the snake was lifted up in the desert. I have to be lifted up. I have to be nailed to a pole and put on a hill so people can look to Me and be relieved, be saved from the death sentence that hangs over their heads.”
And so, you see how all this comes together, and you see how the more you know about Scripture and the more you know about history, the more certain you become about all these things. Because now these are not just stories that somebody made up, these have been verified over and over and over and over again. Over a period of thousands of years.
How was Jacob supposed to know that those priests would run down the street saying his prophecy had been broken two-thousand or three-thousand years later? He wasn’t.
And they should have known better. They should have known that God’s Word doesn’t get broken by anybody. There’s no power on Earth that can break God’s Word. They should have known this. If they had known it they’d have been looking for the Messiah, and the whole future world would have been different. Including the fact, you and I wouldn’t be here today.
All right. Verse 33 now, John 18:33:
Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
“Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
Understand He didn’t say it’s not in this world, He says it’s not of this world. It’s a big difference because it is in the world.
“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Again this is consistent all the way through these accounts. This is the fourth time.
“You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born and for this reason I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
“What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”
They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion.
We learned that before. Okay, now we’ll begin chapter 19:
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck him in the face.
Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”
What he literally said was, “Behold the man!”
And this was an appeal for mercy. This was what—let me put this in a different context here. It was his belief that if he brought Jesus out so that they could see the effects of the physical punishment He had just received, the crowd would say, “Oh gee, enough is enough! Okay let Him go. That’s enough.”
This is what he had hoped for, and so when he said, “Behold the man!” he was saying, “Look at the punishment He’s gotten! He hasn’t done anything to deserve being executed. But because you’ve insisted I have punished Him, almost to the point of death.”
You know, many men did not survive a Roman flogging. It’s too big a shock on the body’s systems. These thirty-nine lashes that He got, how many of you saw the movie the Passion of the Christ? Okay you know what that was then; you know what that meant. You sat through that and cringed like I did every time the whip came down.
You know that when they were done with Him there wasn’t a bit of skin or muscle left on His back. His rib cage was sticking out, showing through. All His muscles were gone. He was in deep shock at that point, and His life was in jeopardy.
He was, at that point, as good as dead. And if they had done nothing more to Him, and just left Him, chances are He would have died.
This was just the interrogation phase. The execution hadn’t begun yet. This, by the way, many people believe is what gave you the authority to ask for healing, because again Isaiah 53 says by His stripes we are healed.
It wasn’t the crucifixion. It was this particular punishment that gives you the authority to ask for and expect healing. Many people don’t know that, most people don’t believe it. But that is where the authority for you to ask for healing comes from. The crucifixion, the shedding of His blood, the giving of His life, healed you from your sin, your penalty for sin.
But the stripes that He bore, that gave you the authority to ask for physical healing. And in Isaiah 53, the terminology there is all related to physical healing: infirmities, sickness, disease. These are words that show up in the English based on the Hebrew Scriptures and the concept there in those first 4 verses of Isaiah 53 is physical healing. The crucifixion was for your spiritual healing. So think about that.
Do some studying in that area and you’ll see why James could say, “If a person is sick, let him go to the elders. Let them anoint him with oil and pray for his healing. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick man well.”
It doesn’t say might, doesn’t say could, doesn’t say, once out of three. It says, a prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.
And it’s because of that beating. That punishment was for your healing. And Pilate was saying, “Enough is enough! Look at this guy, look at what we’ve done to Him! Isn’t this enough?”
As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”
But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”
The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”
When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to set you free or to crucify you?”
Look at verse 11:
Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
With just the little bit of detail we’ve gone into on this tonight, you can see how brutal this time was. You can see how almost impossible it would be for a human being to endure this kind of punishment.
But now I want you to think about the fact that He made a moment-by-moment decision to let it continue. He didn’t do anything in an effort to defend Himself. He never said a word to try and persuade them that He was innocent, or that they had the wrong guy, or that He had evidence that would prove His innocence. He let this happen, and with all the power of the universe at His command.
Remember earlier He said to Peter, “I can have twelve legions of angels here.”
We talked about the fact that a Roman legion was worth 600 soldiers, and if heavenly legions are the same size, that’s 72,000 angels. We talked about the fact that one angel was sufficient to wipe out the Assyrian army one night, how much would 72,000 be able to do? Certainly take care of a few Romans.
He made a moment-by-moment decision to let this continue. He stood there and let this happen to Him so that you could be freed of your debt to God.
From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”
And this of course, is the charge of treason that finally is a violation of a Roman law that Pilate could use.
When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha).
Not to be confused with Golgotha. This is Gabbatha, the judgment seat.
It was the day of Preparation of the Passover week; it was about the sixth hour.
Now what did we learn in Mark? That He was on the cross by the third hour, okay? So the only conclusion we can make here is that talking about this in the context of the judgment by Romans, John was using the Roman standard which begins at midnight. And so, the sixth hour would be 6:00 AM and this would fit with the other Gospel accounts on the fact that they took Him to see Pilate at sunrise. So you can win a Bible trivia question with that one.
Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.
But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.
Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.
Okay, so these four accounts then demonstrate to us the clear evidence that these people made up their mind beforehand, what they were going to do. And all they were doing throughout the whole evening, was looking for the legal justification to permit implementing the decision they had already made.
And so this man was guilty even if He could prove Himself innocent. It wasn’t unless He could, He was guilty even if He could. Because ever since the raising of Lazarus they had said, “If we don’t kill this man it’s going to destroy our nation.” and Caiaphas said, “Well then, let’s let one man die and save the nation.”
Of course, it didn’t, work did it? Because within 30 years the nation was defeated, the temple was destroyed, the city was burned, and the Jews began a 2,000 year diaspora, dispersement, throughout the world.
And the nation Israel ceased to exist. By 135 A.D., the nation was absolutely gone. Never again operated as any kind of an entity on any basis until 1948.
That’s why 1948 becomes such a critical event in terms of End Times prophecy because 1948 is agreed, by most scholars, to be the first irrefutable sign that the end of the age had begun. And now it’s just a matter of how long it takes for it to play out.
The way I read the Scriptures, it can take up to 70 years for it to play out. For all End Times prophecies, including the Second Coming, to be fulfilled can take as many as 70 years. It doesn’t say it has to be 70 years, but that’s how many it could take to also fulfill the prophecy that Jesus said that all would happen while the generation in which the signs began was still alive.
And so, if a lifetime is not only 70 years according to Psalm 90:10, that means from 1948 you have about 70 years for all End Times prophecy to be fulfilled.
In Daniel 9, one of the six things that Gabriel told Daniel the nation Israel was responsible for was to seal up vision and prophecy.
In Zechariah 14, we learned that after the Second Coming there is no more prophecy. In fact, it says that prophecy will become a capital crime, because by definition it will be false. Because at the Second Coming, all prophecy has been fulfilled, or will have been fulfilled. And from that point on, anyone who prophesies is by definition, issuing a false prophecy, the punishment for which is death.
In fact, it goes so far as to say anyone who issues a prophecy will risk being killed by his own parents because it will be such an abhorrent crime in those days. It’s in Zechariah 14. I want you to look at this because you’re looking at me like, “Did you make that up?”
I’m sorry it’s Zechariah 13. On verse 2, Zechariah 13:2:
“On that day,
The day of His Second Coming.
“On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more,” declares the Lord Almighty. “I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land. And if anyone still prophesies, their father and mother, to whom they were born, will say to them, ‘You must die, because you have told lies in the Lord’s name.’ And when he prophesies his own parents will stab him.
Got that? This is Zechariah 13:2 and 3.
And so one of the six things if you read Daniel 9, the famous Daniel 70 Weeks prophecy. And one of the six things that Gabriel told Daniel that the nation was going to accomplish during that 70 weeks, is to seal up vision and prophecy.
Well, if you look at the word “seal” it means just what it says, it means to seal it up, put an end to it.
A letter in those days, when it was written, it was sealed. The person who wrote it took some hot melted wax, put it on the two sides of the folded paper, and let the wax dry, sealing up the paper. It signified that the communication was complete and nothing more could be added to it.
And so, one of the 70 week projects is to seal up vision and prophecy, meaning to bring to completion all Biblical prophecy. This is why you don’t see very much written about how life is going to be in the Millennium.
You know I continually get letters from people. “Explain to me, will you, why they’re going to do this?” Or, “If they’re going to do that, or how this is going to be?” Or, “How that’s going to be?”
And the answer is, nobody knows.
Because there is no real prophecy about it, except it’s going to last for one-thousand years, and it’s going to be focused in Israel. And there’s nothing at all said about Eternity, except there is one.
We don’t have the first clue what’s going to happen after the end of the one-thousand years because the Bible stops there; it’s over. The Bible is written for the age of man and when it ends, when the age of man ends, it doesn’t say anything else. It doesn’t say anything about what happened before Adam, and it doesn’t say anything about what happens after the end of the Millennium because the Bible was specifically written to address the six-thousand year age of man and the one-thousand year kingdom.
So you get seven-thousand years. Its beginning to its end. You get seven-thousand years, and that’s the end. It doesn’t say anything about what happened before then, or what will happen after that. So any questions you have about Eternity, are you going to be able to fly, or whether you’re going to have this, or that or look like you do now, or all those questions that are solved fresh in our minds all the time when we think about this. None of them have answers, except this one: Wait and see.
That’s all you can say! Everything else is speculation, and there’s a lot of it around. You know people say, “Well, we’re all going to be 33 years old because that’s what age the Lord was when He was resurrected.”
Well that’s an opinion, but there’s no Biblical conclusion there. There’s nothing that says how believers in the Millennium get saved, we don’t know anything about that. Even if they do, we don’t know. We don’t know if they’ll die and go live with us in the New Jerusalem. It doesn’t say. We don’t know what their disposition will be. We don’t even know if there are any! Because it doesn’t say. That’s all.
Everything we see, any detail we see about the Millennium kingdom is written about Israel on Earth and you’ll find it in Isaiah and Ezekiel, primarily. And all that does is give little snapshots of this and that, no detail as far as the questions that we have about what it’s going to be for us.
All we see what’s going to be for us is in Revelation 21 in the first 6 verses of 22. There’s going to be a New Jerusalem, it’s going to be 1,400 miles wide and 1,400 miles tall. It’s going to be somewhere near Earth, but it can’t be on Earth because it’s too big. You know, if you took a ball with a 1,400 diameter across the equator and down the poles, it’d be one-sixth the size of planet Earth. Where is it going to fit? Where are you going to put it?
It’s called the New Jerusalem, but it’s bigger than Israel! In fact, if you tried to land it somewhere on Earth it would take all the way from Norway to Italy, all of western Europe to put it on. If you tried to land it in the United States, it would go all the way from Maine to Florida, and from the east coast west of the Mississippi. It would take over one-third of the landmass of this nation just to land that one city on Earth.
And it would be 1,400 miles tall! That’s 4,000 times taller than the tallest building on Earth today. The Earth spins at 1,000 miles an hour, what if you put a big lump on the side of it like that? [laughing] What would that do to its balance? It would just spin off into the universe and blow up! So it can’t be on Earth, that’s all we know.
We know what John saw, looking up at it from the Earth. But as far as we know he never went inside. And if he did he didn’t report anything, so nobody knows.
But you know what Paul said about it? He said:
“No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
and what no mind has even considered”—
what God has in store for those who love him—
In other words, it’s beyond our imagination, it’s beyond anything we can think of. That’s what’s in store for us, and that’s why He says, “Wait and see.” Because our minds would not be able to comprehend. If we knew it, it’s beyond us at this point. We have to be perfected first.
The blinders caused by the sin nature, the contaminating effects, all the weeds that grow in our brains that cause the incredible capacity of the human mind to be harnessed and limited and distracted and derailed. That has to be gone before we could even imagine what it’s going to be like.
That’s why the person wrote the song “I Can Only Imagine.” That’s right, that’s all you can do. And even then you can’t dream big enough, you’re incapable at this point of doing so.
How did we get off on that? [laughing] Yeah, it is fun!
And so, this day then, this was the day, you see. The central day, as I had said at the beginning, the central day in history. Nothing was ever the same again after that day, everything changed. Because that was the day God redeemed His creation. And one day soon He’s going to come and take possession of that which He paid for on that day. Amen.
And that’s a good place to stop. Let’s have a closing prayer.