My Song is Love Unknown: For His Death They Thirst and Cry
Midweek Lent 3
My Song Is Love Unknown: For His Death They Thirst and Cry
Text: Matthew 26:59-66
There was nothing right or just about this trial at all. The Sanhedrin was not ever supposed to meet at night. Due notification was required for any trial. A fly-by-night trial during the night was not legal according to the laws of Moses.
Caiaphas, the high priest who presided over this trial, also wrongfully usurped two positions at the trial. He functioned as both the judge and the prosecuting attorney in this court. There was nothing unbiased about his prejudicial actions.
Maybe it’s obvious, but this trial should never have taken place to begin with. Not only was it illegally held, not only was it unfairly judged, but the verdict was also decided before the trial even began. They didn’t have a charge against Jesus, but they knew that somehow he was guilty and that in some way he needed to be prosecuted.
They added to the injustice then by trying to conjure up charges against Jesus. They brought in many false witnesses to testify against Jesus. Perhaps they offered a bribe to them as they did to Judas. Again, both unjust and illegal. The law of Moses states in Deuteronomy that if false witnesses give testimony against someone, they are guilty and worthy of the same punishment as that of the accused. According to the law, these men should have been sentenced to death as well!
Eventually two came forward that had a similar testimony. “Finally two came forward and declared, ‘This fellow said, “I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.”’” Yet even this was a distorted lie. What happened was that Jesus had said they would destroy the temple of God (meaning kill him) and he would rebuild it in three days (meaning rise from the dead).
With dignity and humility Jesus remained silent. So Caiphas quickly segued to the crux of their anger: “Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” This was their main reason for hating Jesus. Jesus replied: “Yes it is as you say. 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.” Jesus was declaring his divinity and prophesying that in the future he would be the Judge and they would be on trial in his court.
Caiphas tore his robes in mock anguish, another thing the high priest was not supposed to do. Now at last Caiphas had something to charge Jesus with. “He has spoken blasphemy!” Caiphas shouted. They cast their vote with united voice, once again breaking the law. Each member of the Sanhedrin was supposed to cast individual secret ballots. Instead altogether they cried out, “He is worthy of death.”
There was nothing right or just about this trial at all. But most egregious, most ironic, and most appalling of all, here at this trial the innocent Son of God was tried and prosecuted by the people who were really sinful and guilty. There Jesus stood amongst all those sinners, and For His Death They Thirst and Cry.
Our good human reason is indeed appalled by this story. That’s not fair! How could those sinners get away with that? How could they do that to Jesus! How could they be so evil? That’s not fair!
In the same breath we must also recall that we are not the ones on trial, and that’s not fair either. We are every bit as guilty as the members of the Sanhedrin. We are every bit as sinful. We are every bit as deserving of a switch-of-spots with Jesus.
This unfair, unjust trial reminds us how perverse and obstinate we sinners can be. Once those Jews decided they hated Jesus and wanted to get rid of him, they committed themselves to pursuing every sinful path possible to accomplish that sinful goal. They went so far as to tangle themselves in a web of nasty lies motivated by hearts filled with hatred.
When sinners set their minds to something sinful, there is almost no end to the depth of our depravity. How many lies do we tell to avoid being caught in a sin? How much will you put down, make fun of, and gossip about other people all for the sake of making yourself look better? How angry do you become, how much do you shout, how many mean words do you say when you think you are right and someone else (often your spouse!) is wrong?
We all have been the ones thirsting and crying for vengeance or for justice or thirsting and crying to justify our opinion or to get our way. Those heated arguments and vicious debates so often get carried away and turn into a platform for anger and hatred, much like Jesus’ trial did.
Or how many excuses do you make about the silliest of things to make yourself feel better about skipping church or not reading your Bible? I’ve had people tell me that they don’t like to leave their dog alone on Sunday morning. I’ve been told, “If I ever walk in a church the roof would probably cave in on me,” as if that would ever truly happen. I know and have used myself every excuse in the book for not reading the Bible or praying. “I forgot.” “I got busy.” “I have so much on my mind.” “I don’t know what I’m reading,” or, “I don’t know what to pray.” Even the blatant, “I guess I’m just lazy.”
Yes, it is amazing how deep we can sink into sin when we sinners set our minds to something. Those Jews of the Sanhedrin found themselves “in deep” with the most unfair and unjust of sins. Yet every day we can look around us and find that we have sunk into the darkest depths of sinful choices and actions.
So My Song is Love Unknown, a song of our Savior who willingly suffered for such shameful sins. You see, it was not that Jesus was condemned and sentenced to die because the Jews hated him so much, because they thirsted and cried for his death. Jesus could have walked away from his trial and his suffering at any time. He didn’t die because people hated him so much. Jesus died because he loved sinners that much.
This unfair, unjust trial reminds us of these words of the prophet Isaiah: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
The Jews were the guilty sinners, yet they were prosecuting the innocent Jesus. We are the guilty sinners, yet Jesus was the one who suffered and died. Isaiah so beautifully paints the picture of Jesus’ unknown love. He was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. He was punished so that we could have peace.
This is why Jesus’ love is truly unknown. We cannot understand how great his love is. There stood Jesus on trial, so innocent and perfect that false witnesses couldn’t even figure out a lie about him sinning. Yet willingly he allowed himself to be unfairly prosecuted so that he could die in place of the sinners who actually deserve death.
This love could only come from the one whom Jesus claimed to be: “The Christ, the Son of God.” Only God could love us that much. Only God could save us from such sin. Only God could allow the temple of his body to be torn down and then “rebuild it” by rising from the dead on the third day. Only God could be the one seated on his throne in heaven and coming back on the clouds to judge.
The Jews called this blasphemy, that Jesus would claim to be the Christ, the Son of God. But we know this is truth. The Jews said he was worthy of death. But we know we are worthy of death. The Jews thirsted and cried for his death. But we thirst and cry to sing his praises. The Jews resented Jesus for his unknown love which they did not understand. But we are thankful to Jesus for his unknown love which we do not understand.
There was nothing right or just about this trial at all. Everything about it was shameful, sinful, even illegal. Jesus had no reason to be there at that trial. Except this—he loves us sinners that much.
My Song is Love Unknown
Sometimes they strew his way and his sweet praises sing,
Resounding all the day Hosannas to their King.
Then “Crucify!” is all their breath,
And For His Death they Thirst and Cry
Why? What has my Lord done? What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run; He gave the blind their sight.
Sweet injuries! Yet they at these
Themselves displease and ‘gainst him rise.
In life no house, no home my Lord on earth might have;
In death no friendly tomb but what a stranger gave.
What may I say? Heav’n was his home
But mine the tomb wherein he lay.
My Song is Love Unknown. An unjust trial. Willing to suffer. Willing to die. For me. My Song is Love Unknown.
Posted on March 8, 2013, in Church, Sermons and tagged Caiaphas, Church, Death, Hate, Hatred, Illegal, Jesus, Jury, Lent, Love, Matthew, Matthew 26, Sanhedrin, Sermons, Son of God, Trial, Unfair, Unjust. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.