March 31 I Wednesday
“Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: ‘The One I kiss is the Man; arrest Him.’ Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed Him.” —Matthew 26:48-49
After Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly on a donkey, He cleansed the temple of buyers and sellers, and taught the people in the temple courts, proclaiming the good news. The chief priests and teachers of the law, together with the elders came up to Him and asked, “Tell us by what authority You are doing these things. Who gave You this authority?” (Luke 20:2). These men asking Jesus this question were part of the Sanhedrin, which was the highest legal Jewish authority.
During Jesus’s time, Israel was an occupied nation. Although the Romans ruled, they permitted the Sanhedrin to deal with domestic issues. The Sanhedrin consisted of 71 members made up of members from the leading classes: Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes. Matthew 26:3-4 tells us, “The chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill Him.” These men were not pleased with Jesus and plotted to kill Jesus in a sly way. Why sly? Because they knew they had a weak case against Jesus.
The chief priests enlisted Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’s own disciples, to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. They wanted to arrest Jesus when there were less people around and for Judas to identify Jesus from the crowd. With a kiss, Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin. The Gospel of Matthew tells us, “The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put Him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.” The high priest then said to Jesus, “I charge You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus replied, “You have said so...” At Jesus’s response, the high priest tore his clothes and yelled, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” The council responded, “He is worthy of death” (Matthew 26:59-65).
The schemes of the Sanhedrin that falsely accused Jesus, condemning Him to death, only succeeded because of Jesus’s own willingness to lay down His life. His words in John 10:17-18 offer us this insight, “I lay down My life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord.” What great love displayed from Jesus, who gladly laid down His life for us.
Prayer: Precious Jesus, thank You for willingly laying down Your life to die for sinners like me. I am in awe of the love that You have for me. You are worthy to be praised!