We finished up the Gospel of Matthew last week. We are now in the book of Romans written by the Apostle Paul, which is a very interesting and complex epistle. But before we get into Romans, I wanted to talk about the ending of Matthew’s gospel.
After Judas realizes his tragic sin in turning Jesus over to the authorities, he looks to the chief priests and the Sanhedrin for absolution of his sin because he betrayed “innocent blood”.
3 Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” (Matthew 27:3–4, ESV)
It’s interesting to note that the chief priests do not refute his claim about betraying innocent blood and even go so far as to make sure that they don’t put the money back in the temple treasury because that would be “a sin”. How hypocritical can you get!
If Judas agrees that Jesus is innocent and the chief priests agree with Judas that they gave him blood money, they also agree indirectly that Jesus is innocent also. Does this mean that the chief priests and the Sanhedrin willfully and wantonly put to death the Son of God knowingly?!
In all reality, how can they not know that Jesus was the Messiah? He did a multitude of miracles that they surely witnessed themselves and also heard about. He outwitted them and used wisdom far beyond anything mankind could ever come up with. He also fulfilled many prophecies that were written about him in the Old Testament. There was just a mountain of evidence that certainly couldn’t be ignored, but they ignored it anyways.
Earlier in Matthew, Jesus tells the parable of the wicked tenants. In that parable the Father leases out his vineyard to tenants (the nation of Israel) and when he wants to receive some of the fruits of the land those tenants refuse and beat up some of the Father’s servants. Finally, the Father sends his Son and they say this in the parable:
38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” (Matthew 21:38–40, ESV)
Jesus will go on to tell them about the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone etc. and at the very end of the parable we are told that the chief priests and Pharisees perceived that he was speaking about them.
When we get to the last chapter of Matthew and the sealed tomb we have a story about how the guards fled in fear and came and told the chief priests the story of what it happened at tomb. 11 …behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. (Matthew 28:11, ESV)
These guards told the chief priests ALL that had taken place. Can you imagine how that conversation went? Put yourself in the place of one of those guards telling the chief priests the sight of a few angels in their glory opening up tomb, a tomb with no body in it! Again, they ignore the overwhelming evidence presented before the period. I can’t help but think that even if the risen Christ visited them they still wouldn’t believe.
Did these religious leaders of the day knowingly crucified Christ? I don’t know if we can answer that definitively but for my part, I believe they most certainly did. When Judgment Day comes, how will that play out for them? I guess we will stay tuned and find out on that day.
God Bless, Pastor Todd