Morning! My name is John McCormick, Leader of Renovation U
Super excited to be with you this morning!
I hope you had a great Christmas reflecting on the birth of Jesus!
Passing judgment on others
I don’t know if you know this about me, but in some of my free time I am a gamer
For those of you that don’t know what being a gamer means:
It’s an adult’s way of saying they play video games while trying to sound cool 😊
I’m a... fairly competitive person and you could say that I enjoy winning 😊
And suffice to say, I tend to get frustrated when I lose
This frustration is most evident when I’m playing a game where I think that someone is cheating
Very few things upset me as much as cheating
Cheating makes the game unfair, and then I don’t like playing it
And it’s mostly because I have no way to win
It makes all my effort meaningless
I have no way to balance the scales
And my very competitive side is upset because I didn’t win!
As humans, we all get upset in these situations, because we share a desire to see things be fair (and let’s be honest a desire to win!)
And we feel wronged when things don’t go the way we want them to
Continuing in Luke
As with all things in life though, it’s not our default response that matters, it’s how Jesus responded to those kinds of situations
Today we’re going to look at a story in the book of Luke in the Bible and see how Jesus handled it when the situation was wildly unfair and those that opposed him cheated to win
This morning we will be finishing up Luke 22 going through verses 66-71
We’ve been following Jesus’ journey over the last few hours before his death
This morning we are picking up the story the morning of Good Friday, the day when Jesus is crucified
I’d love for you to follow along today as we read through this so:
In the Bibles under the chairs we’ll be on Page 721
Look for the big 22 and the little 66 to find where we are starting
Or you can follow along in the Renovation Church app
Alright, let’s read Luke 22: 66-71:
At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.” Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.” They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”
Okay, there’s a lot going on here, so let’s start with some context around what has happened leading up to this
In the books Matthew, Mark, and John (3 of the Bible books about Jesus life), we see an account of him being arrested in the wee hours of the night and brought to 2 different trials:
The first comes from the book of John and tells us that Jesus is taken to the house of a man named Annas, who is one of the High Priests at the time for a brief trial
This trial seems to be very small and to be over quickly
Then Jesus is taken to the other High Priest’s house (Caiaphas) and a much more in-depth trial takes place
After that, Jesus is mocked and beaten up by the guards (which Pastor David talked about last Sunday)
Then the book of Luke picks up the story in the morning where Jesus is brought before the whole Sanhedrin (which is like the Jewish supreme court) which we just read this morning
This adds up to a total of three trials in front of the Jewish religious leaders
I know what you’re thinking, and having three trials like this is definitely not normal!
The night trials that we see in the books of Matthew, Mark and John are actually illegal in Jewish law… you heard me right, illegal!
Normal Jewish trials have several rules they are supposed to adhere to:
They must happen during the daytime
They must have at least 2 witnesses that would be examined separately and without contact with one another to corroborate a crime
They must meet in the official Sanhedrin building with the Sanhedrin present
Criminal cases cannot be tried during Passover
Guilty verdicts required deliberation for at least one day (so there was a chance for mercy)
They must bring forth evidence first to prove innocence before evidence proving guilt
The high priests know they can’t try and convict Jesus fairly because he hasn’t done anything wrong
So… they cheat and have these illegal nighttime trials first as a “practice run” to fine tune the charges against Jesus
They need the details worked out before the real trial happens in the morning
Which P.S., is also illegal 😊
Throughout these three trials, they break every rule we just covered
The irony though is that even with all the odds in their favor, the nighttime trials don’t go very well
The first high priest can’t get anything out of Jesus so he sends him straight off to the other one
At the 2nd trial, all the false witnesses fail to agree on what Jesus has done wrong
I’ll bet the high priest was getting pretty nervous at this point!
But he’s persistent and switches tactics to instead try and get Jesus to speak blasphemy (which is basically speaking bad things about God or claiming to be God)
He knows this is his best approach to win the morning trial!
So let’s see what happens in the 2nd secret night trial in Mark 14:60-62
Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
A ha! Now he has caught Jesus red-handed claiming to be God!
Watch him use the same questions in the morning trial!
Look at verse 67: (leave up until I mention Daniel 7)
“If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.” Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”
Sound familiar? 😊
The high priest’s question from the practice run produces almost the exact same answer in the morning!
Jesus intentionally doesn’t directly answer the question
First, he shares that he knows the question is pointless
Nothing will make them believe he is really the Son of God!
And the rest of his answer is a direct reference to a passage in the book of Daniel in the Old Testament
That passage is from Daniel 7 and talks about “one like a son of man” that will rule God’s kingdom
This isn’t a direct claim to be the Son of God, but yet… it kind of is!
Which is why the assembled people push him to be more direct in verse 70: “Are you the Son of God?”
But Jesus responds with this weird phrase: “you say that I am”
This is a Greek phrase that agrees while also deflecting responsibility for it
It’s kind of like when someone today says: “I can neither confirm nor deny”, you know they are saying yes without being able to be held responsible for saying yes
The Sanhedrin understands his implications though and they carry Jesus off to be punished by the Romans
Since legally the Jewish people cannot carry out a punishment like death on their own
Jesus whole life was not fair
Now when you read this story it seems unbelievably unfair right?
Jesus knows that he can’t really defend himself in a way that will make these people believe he really is the Son of God
And when he does speak, he never says anything in the real trial that they can hold against him
If we tried something like that in the American justice system, it would be dismissed for a lack of evidence and the person would go free!
And even his trials are a mockery of justice
All three of his trials are illegal for goodness sake!
Not only do they mock him during his trials like we talked about last week, they mock him with the trials because they are a joke!
And to top it off, he actually IS the Son of God, so the accusations are foolish to begin with!
So, here’s our Jesus: abandoned by his friends, mocked, beaten up, exhausted, and surrounded by his own people that want him dead
And how would you or I feel in that situation?
Would we stay quiet?
Could we keep calm in the midst of unbelievable injustice being done to us?
I think it’s safe to predict that we would not handle it well!
Our approach to justice (which was supposed to be the Jewish approach too!) is that people are “innocent until proven guilty”
At least when we are the one on trial!
To be put in a situation where the whole room has already condemned you and are trying to find or make up the evidence, it would be a huge insult to our sensibilities!
And I think we’d say something, demanding that this case be dismissed because there is no evidence
Or we would demand that the trial be declared a mistrial because the trials themselves are illegal!
And all of that would be 100% true
But here’s the thing: Jesus doesn’t
Stop and think about that for a minute
Jesus doesn’t decry the injustice
He doesn’t stand up and demand a fair trial
He doesn’t even struggle as they beat him up!
Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Let’s take a step back for a moment and consider what the rest of Jesus’ life was like
Essentially from his very first moments on earth, we would call everything that happens to him unfair
Think about this, we just celebrated Christmas yesterday and how does Jesus’ life start out?
Luke 2:7: There was no room for them in the Inn
That’s just seems wrong, doesn’t it?
Why would no one give up their room for the pregnant lady that’s about to give birth?
It’s the Son of God being born, and nobody can bother to give him any room
Say what you like about them, but the animals let baby Jesus into their stable and they aren’t the least bit sheepish….. 😊
Life doesn’t get fair for Jesus later either
Throughout his 3 years of public ministry, Jesus is a nomad who is likely living in tents most of the time
Check out what Jesus says about this in Luke 9:58:
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
Here’s a couple more examples:
Time and time again, Jewish leaders oppose him and try to trap or trick him
In his hometown, his own people try to throw him off a cliff!
And these really hit me hard:
Jesus heals countless people but 99% make little to no effort to follow him
Jesus feeds 5000 people and I’ll bet almost all of them responded:
So long and thanks for all the fish!
In everything that happens Jesus doesn’t try to make things fair even though he certainly could!
He’s not on earth to promote fairness, he came to fulfill the prophecies about him and live out God’s plan!
Even if that means suffering in the process!
The truth about fairness
And friends this is the truth of the matter:
Life is not fair
God does not promise that it will be fair
We might say we believe the Bible, but we talk and live our lives like Karma is the truth
If we just do good things, then good things will come back to us
And if we do enough, we can even go to Heaven
Seems fair right?
But is that really what we think?
Truthfully, deep down, we don’t want it to be fair
Why else then when anything bad happens in our lives, do we immediately respond with “that’s not fair!” and “how could this happen to me”?
It’s because our sense of fairness only extends to us getting what we want
When that stops being true, now things are unfair
It’s not about justice, it’s about things happening the way we think they should!
As Christians, it’s easy for us to fall into this trap where we tell ourselves that if we follow Jesus, he’ll make sure our lives go the way we want
We treat Jesus more as a cosmic vending machine that will give us what we want if we just push the right buttons
He’s there and it’s super convenient when we need something
But when God calls us to something we don’t like, we can simply ignore him until we need him again
Or if something goes wrong unexpectedly, we think we can go get a quick fix to the problem
God will just fix that relationship, or heal that person, or get me a better job
We prayed for it, and he loves us, so he will just give us whatever we need in that moment, right?
He tells us to pray, and we did it, so it’s only fair that he does what we want!
But Christians, please hear me on this:
You are not promised a life where you get whatever you want when you follow Jesus
It’s a life of sacrifice and choosing to follow his way instead of what we want or what we think is right
Be honest with yourself, when was the last time you asked God what he wanted you to do instead of just doing what you want?
Has it been a day? A month? A year?
And when he did tell you, what did you do?
We can’t expect God to always call us to do the things in life that we want to do
And when God allows something to happen that we don’t like, we can’t say that he’s being unfair
Friends, if Jesus himself didn’t experience fairness in his life (and he’s the Son of God), what makes us expect that we should?
Why do we deserve good things? Why should it be different for us?
Think about it, he’s JESUS and was only mistreated in this life and then killed for us!
We saw just a few weeks ago that he asks God to take away the need for him to die if it’s possible
But regardless of what he wants, Jesus says: “not my will, but yours be done”!
There’s a reason that the 99% of people who were healed didn’t follow Jesus
It’s because he doesn’t call us to follow him to an easy life that’s always fair
He tells us to let go of what we want or what we think we deserve and to follow him
Check out a couple examples of this:
Luke 14: 27:
And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
Matthew 19: 21-22:
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
He doesn’t say accumulate wealth and be comfortable, no!
He says sell your possessions and follow him to the man, which is hard!
Even though Christians are called to a hard life, God does give us two extremely important promises:
That he loves us and will take us home to be with him forever when we die
To a place where there is no more pain, or sadness, or death
And that in this life even though bad things happen that he is still in control
Check this promise from Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose
Don’t miss this: it doesn’t say that God works for the things we want
It says for the good, which he determines, not us
God gets to decide what is good in life for us
And yet, that flies in the face of the “fair” life we all want to have where we are in control
…and I use quotes because what even is fair?
Friends, if I took a poll right now and gave you a series of scenarios and asked which one was fair or not, I’d bet that in this very room there would be disagreement among you
“Fair” is a subjective label that we apply whenever we don’t like an outcome of a situation
Did someone cut you off in traffic?
MAN THAT’S NOT FAIR
Did someone cheat you in a game?
Did someone else get the promotion that you worked so hard for?
WHAT HAS THAT PERSON EVER DONE TO DESERVE THAT?!
But… what about when you cut off that person in traffic?
I really needed to get over!
What about when you cheated a tiny little bit in a game and won?
It’s not my fault they showed me their cards!
And what about when you got the promotion, and 10 other people didn’t?
Well, I deserved it the most
Do you see the glaring inconsistencies?
Things are unfair when they hurt us, but they are fair when we are getting what we want
What is underneath that?
Our own selfishness which comes from our pride
Fairness is not about seeing right done for all so much as seeing MY right done
When we’re getting what we want and what we think we deserve, the world is working perfectly
But the moment that changes, now there’s a terrible injustice being done!
And we live our lives where what’s fair or what’s good is a constantly moving target based on our whims at that moment
And so, our selfishness defaults us back to trying to do “good things” as the basis for how we live our lives
Because we want what we want when we want it
And we tell ourselves the “good things” line to soothe our conscience
But this brings us to the real problem:
Despite what we tell ourselves, have committed crimes against God’s laws which we call sins
And every one of us in the room deserves punishment for those sins
We don’t deserve to go to Heaven, in fact quite the opposite!
The Bible tells us that we all deserve separation from God forever in Hell
God is a good judge who must punish crimes
The Bible tells us repeatedly that we all have messed up and deserve punishment
And if you take two minutes to look at the world around you, the evidence is everywhere that we all broken, messed up people!
Therefore, God cannot be fair and just and allow us into heaven because we’ve “done some good things”
Imagine if someone said in a trial that they didn’t deserve to be punished for a crime they committed because they’ve done some good things
They would get laughed at
And we would all agree that it’s no reason for that person not to be convicted
Likewise with God, doing some good things is no basis for us to get to go to heaven
For every sin we commit against him there is nothing we can do to make it “fair” or to make ourselves right with God
How could we? What could we possibly give him that He hasn’t already given to us? What could we do that he hasn’t already done for us?
We can do NOTHING to balance the scales with God
And our list of sins only grows every single day!
And that is the great beauty of Jesus
What he did in coming and dying for us, was wildly unfair
If things were fair, we wouldn’t deserve anything but punishment
We’ve all sinned against God and so we all deserve punishment!
But Jesus came and took our punishment on himself because he loves us!
Think about this: one man bore the sin of BILLIONS of people
To bear the punishment for trillions of sins that billions of people will commit, that’s beyond comprehension!
And that punishment that you deserve, that I deserve, we don’t have to experience because Jesus didn’t come to make things fair
He came on a rescue mission to save us because there was nothing we could do to balance the scales
Jesus came offering that gift to us and we treated him like the scum of the earth
We may have not been the people that wouldn’t let him have a room to be born in
Or those people standing in the trials condemning him
Or the people that will shout CRUCIFY HIM in just a few verses
But your sin…. my sin… that’s what held Jesus there on that cross
Our sin is the reason he chose to come and bear that punishment for us
And if you haven’t believed in Jesus and received his gift, you have a chance to today and every single day
We can choose to live life desperately trying to make things fair and somehow always being behind
Forever struggling to get what we want and trying to bend the world to our whims
Struggling to make sense of why bad things happen or why things never go our way
Or we can choose to let go of all of that and receive the most unfair gift of them all: his grace
We can receive his gift of freedom from our sins
And I believe there are some people here today that have never received that gift
If you’ve been chasing fairness your whole life and you’re exhausted from it
Today is the day to stop chasing it
Today you have a choice to let go of trying to make everything right on your own and instead receive Jesus’ gift to make things right
He doesn’t ask that you get your life in order or that you do enough good things to balance out the scales
He says: come as you are
His sacrifice for us throws out the scales and makes you right with God
It makes you a child of God and promises you eternity in Heaven with him
And you can finally let go of fairness
Jesus doesn’t promise this life will be fair
BUT he is calling you to something so much better than fairness
He’s calling you to a life a joy and peace even in the midst of our unfair world!
And while that doesn’t mean everything will always be easy
It means when things do seem to go wrong, that we can trust that God is in control and has a plan for us!
And he has already promised to know you, to walk with you through this life, and in the end to take you to heaven to be with him forever
Everybody close your eyes and bow your heads for a moment
If you’re in a place right now where you’re thinking “that’s me, I need that”
Now is the time to believe in Jesus and receive his gift
And if you’ve never done that before, I’m going to ask you to do something this morning
As a way to mark this moment, I’m going to ask you to stand up wherever you are
Don’t worry about everyone else, they’ve got their eyes closed
This is your moment to say, yes Jesus, I accept your gift and I want to follow you
I don’t want to try and make things fair on my own anymore
Receive that gift from Jesus and he’ll change your life!
Go ahead and stand up
IF PEOPLE STAND UP
For those of you that are standing, the Bible tells us that when we believe in Jesus that we are to believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths
So we want to pray with you right now
This isn’t a magic prayer, it’s just a way for us to tell God that we are going to follow him
Whether you just started believing in Jesus right now or have for a long time, let’s pray this together
Okay, repeat after me:
I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.
But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place
And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.
And now I commit, to following you, with my life.
As everyone still has their eyes closed, for those of you standing up, you just made the most important decision of your life, and I believe that requires some more information…
So here’s what we’re going to do to get you that…as everyone has their eyes closed, I want you, in just a second, to walk back out to the lobby where it will be quiet.
You won’t walk out there alone.
There are others standing with you, and our follow-up team is going to walk out at the same time with you
And I, and our follow-up team are going to get you some extremely important resources & next steps to get you started on the most important journey of your life.
If you’re part of this church, and your friend or family member is standing up right now, PLEASE come out there with them.
All right, you can all go now.
As they’re walking, I’m going to thank God in prayer.
Copyright: John McCormick
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.