Hello and welcome to Thursday’s podcast! My name’s Abby, a big thank you again to Clarissa for her podcast yesterday and to Sarah ahead of her podcast tomorrow.
Today’s passage is Matthew 26:57-75. To give a bit of context, Jesus has been arrested and he now gets taken to the high priest, where the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council, was also assembled. The chief priests and the council have had enough and are looking for a reason to be able to sentence Jesus to death. They start to make accusations against Jesus and the verse that’s really stood out to me from this passage is verse 63, ‘but Jesus remained silent’. In a moment where Jesus had every right to defend himself, he remained silent. I think it’s human nature to want to justify our actions and to defend ourselves, but when Jesus’s life depended on it, he ‘remained silent’.
If you need a reminder today of just how much God loves you, know this, that when Jesus had the chance to save his life, he remained silent, in order that you and I could be saved instead – totally and completely forgiven and set free from everything we’ve ever done wrong, through Jesus’ death on the cross. The world is crying out for a saviour at the moment, and it can be very easy to rest our hopes on the good news of progress made with a vaccine, of the change that a new president the other side of the ocean might bring, there was even talk of Strictly Come Dancing saving 2020 at one point (now I’m a fan of Strictly, but I’m not sure it’s that good!), however in Jesus we have the ultimate saviour – the only saviour who will bring true freedom and fulness of life – and I’m so sothankful today that Jesus remained silent before the chief priests and didn’t protest his innocence.
We know this wasn’t easy for Jesus, earlier in the chapter he’s been crying out in anguish, asking God to intervene and to take away the painful journey to the cross, yet he still surrendered to God’s will. This is in stark contrast to the human nature we see in Peter a few verses later, whensome people in the courtyard where he was waiting around, challenge him for being seen with Jesus, and Peter strongly denies that he knows him.
So what can we take away from this? There are three things that I want to briefly mention:
Firstly, I think that Jesus was able to remain silent because he won the battle earlier on while he was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane – as Jesus cried out to God in prayer and surrendered to his will, he had the strength to go through with his mission and remain silent in the face of accusation, because he knew what he had to do, and that God would give him the strength to do it – if there are things that feel impossible today, let’s not underestimate the power of prayer and the battles we can win when we choose to surrender to God’s will.
Secondly, Jesus demonstrates extraordinary humility in remaining silent, I think because he knew his identity was first and foremost in God – he didn’t need to prove or disprove who he was to other people. It’s made me wonder what it would look like for us to feel so secure in our identity in God, that we didn’t feel the need to prove to anyone who we are, or what we can do.
And finally, returning to Jesus as saviour –we have a real opportunity, in this crazy year, to point to Jesus as saviour, to not keep this good news to ourselves. I think it’s easy to bat around the phrase ‘the world needs Jesus more than ever’ – well, I think we’ve always needed Jesus really, but perhaps this year has got people asking questions about life in a different way than they’ve thought about before and I’m praying that, as we reflect again on how Jesus saved us on the cross, we’ll be bold to share that with other people, and to offer a different story. Over the summer, while it was warm enough to actually sit out in the garden, my housemates and I had some really good conversations with our neighbours – as God and faith started to come up, to be honest I was nervous as I wrongly presumed that we might go down the route of suffering, and why would a good God allow Coronavirus, and I didn’t really know if I would have the right words to say, but as we talked, I was surprised and encouraged to learn how my neighbour is very open to the idea of God, and in fact was acknowledging how this year has made us realise that there has to be something more. As we approach Advent and start to think more about the hope that Jesus brings, I’m praying for an opportunity to take that conversation with my neighbour further, and to share about the saviour that we have in Jesus – who can you be praying for today, to share that truth with too?
Jesus, there aren’t really enough words to say thank you for what you did for us in remaining silent, and choosing to go to the cross. Thank you for that ultimate demonstration of your love for us. I pray that we wouldn’t keep that to ourselves, that you would give us boldness and courage today to share that good news with the people around us, Amen.
BIBLE READING: Matthew 26:57-75
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. But they did 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.”’
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.
The high priest said to him, ‘I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.’
‘You have said so,’ Jesus replied. ‘But I say to all of you: from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’
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?’
‘He is worthy of death,’ they answered.
Then they spat in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, ‘Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?’
Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to him. ‘You also were with Jesus of Galilee,’ she said.
But he denied it before them all. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ he said.
Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant-girl saw him and said to the people there, ‘This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.’
He denied it again, with an oath: ‘I don’t know the man!’
After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, ‘Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.’
Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, ‘I don’t know the man!’
Immediately a cock crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: ‘Before the cock crows, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.