There are several different ways to answer the sceptic’s concerns about the deity of Christ. This morning we’re going to begin at the end – the trials of Christ before the Priests and before Pilate.
Let’s read the Gospel accounts of the trial of the Lord Jesus:
Matthew 26:57-68; 27:11-14; Mark 14:53-65; Luke 22:63-71; 23:1-4; John 18:19-24; 28-38.
These two trials were very different from 99% of most of the trials of which you and I are familiar. When O.J. Simpson was in his first trial, what was it that the jurors were trying to determine? In capital punishment trials what is question under consideration? What was the question under consideration in the trial of Christ Jesus? (Not what He had done, but Who He was.)
In Jesus’ trial there was one event, or potential event, which was considered; what was it? (Destruction of the Temple.) If I publically announced to you that I was going to Washington DC with the intention of blowing up the Capital Building, could I be charged with a crime? If the government made some charges against me, what would they call it? (Conspiracy.) If that was all that I did, made an announcement, what is the likelihood that I would be found guilty? If investigators checked my computer and found that I had been researching web-sites on explosives…. If they found that I had been buying materials which could be made into a bomb…. If I had rented a big U-Haul, or if I had bought a huge tractor-trailer rig ….. If I had already bought a one way ticket from Ronald Reagan International Airport to South America…. And if I had made arrangements for a visiting speaker for weekend that I had those plane tickets…. What is the likelihood that I might be found guilty of conspiracy? Was Jesus guilty of conspiracy to destroy the Temple in Jerusalem?
What was Jesus on trial for? (For Who He was, not what he had done, or was going to do.)
Jesus was charged making three blasphemous claims about himself; what claims? (Messiah, Son of Man and Son of God.) What did it mean to be the Messiah? (The anointed of God; the Christ; the King.) What did it mean to be the Son of Man (Daniel 7:9-14; Psalm 110:1)? What did it mean to be the Son of God?
What was it to which the High Priest tore his clothes? “Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.” Can you think of any other trial, historical or fiction, which was to determine the identity of a person? (Miracle on 34th Street.)
Upon what was Jesus found guilty? (His blasphemy.) Were there any witnesses, who testified to seeing Jesus work miracles – things which only God could do? Did anyone step forward telling the judges that they heard the testimony of God at Jesus’ baptism? Did any of the crowd at the foot of the Mount of Transfiguration, testify to seeing the glory of God coming from the face of Jesus?
Based upon Whose testimony did the priests condemn Him? (His own confession.) Was that testimony forced by way of torture? Did it come through the excitement of the moment and the tricky words of the prosecuting attorney? Did Jesus know what He was doing when He replied to the question of the High Priest? “Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” (He was reaching back to Daniel 7 and Psalm 110 and declaring His deity.) Do you think that it was the desire of Jesus to tell those judges that He was the Messiah, the Son of God?
Jesus was crucified for being exactly who He claimed to be: the Son of God. It is Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, who is sitting at the right hand of the throne of the Father. It will be Jesus of Nazareth, who will come with His mighty angels to take vengeance upon the wicked. To Jesus of Nazareth, the Son, that God the Father has given all judgment.
Return to Luke 22:67-71: “Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe: And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go. Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God. Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth.” What do the words “Ye say that I am” mean? This may be an idiom which means “yes,” but at the same time it says, “I agree with what you say…. I am the Son of God.” When it comes to the laws of evidence, who is the strongest witness? (The hostile witness.) Who was more hostile to the deity or Messiahship of Christ?
What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?