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Matthew 26:57 & John 18:12-14 by Robert Dean

What arrogance! It’s hard to comprehend how people could have put the Son of God, Jesus Christ, on trial, but it happened! Listen to this message to hear how Christ’s first trial was held by the high priest, Annas, who was the leader of a crime family who sought witnesses to prove the innocent Christ’s guilt. Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, stood in the presence of the darkness of religious leaders, confident and unafraid. Today He challenges each of us in the same way. What is your response to Him?

This lesson also includes John 18:19–24

Series:Matthew (2013)
Duration:43 mins 35 secs

Light Shines in the Darkness: The First Trial
Matthew 26:57; John 18:12–14; 19–-24
Matthew Lesson #177
November 12, 2017
www.deanbibleministries.org

Opening Prayer
“Our Father, we’re thankful for Your goodness to us. We’re thankful for our Savior, who was willing to go to the Cross to bear an unimaginable pain, not physically but spiritually, in the separation that occurred between You and He.

“Father, we pray for us as we study and reflect upon these trials leading up to His condemnation and His crucifixion, that as we study these we may come to focus even more upon what it means to respond to injustice and personal injustice, and what it means in the Scripture to understand that the Just died for the unjust.

“We pray that we might have a greater appreciation for all that our Lord and Savior did for us, both before and during the Cross. We pray this in Christ’s Name, amen.”

Open your Bibles with me to Matthew 26. We will also spend a little time in John 18 and be back here again.

Slide 2

What we are beginning to examine today and for the next few weeks are the trials and denials of Jesus: He will go through six trials, then during this same time there are the denials of Peter. They are interwoven, so we will be looking at them this morning.

Because the first trial is described only in the Gospel of John, we must understand the backdrop for that trial within the structure and argument of John. John presents Jesus as the light of the world—the Light Who came into the world to shine in darkness.

If you remember, I emphasized that a little bit as we went through what happened at the Garden of Gethsemane. It’s nighttime; it is pitch black. You have the 600+—maybe 800 or 1,000 people in the crowd—coming to arrest Jesus.

The text emphasizes they had torches and lamps with them as they come to arrest the Light of the World. There is this interplay there that’s very subtle in the text between light and darkness.

When we get to John, we are going to see something else that’s brought out in the text, as we see Jesus, the Light of the World, coming into the darkness of religion, the religious leaders and their trials, and the darkness of the Roman leaders and their trials and what they will do for Him. What we see here is His light penetrating the darkness, exposing the darkness, and condemning the darkness.

When we look at the synoptic Gospels and the account in John, one of the things that we see is that there seems to be a lot of difference between these accounts. That is because each writer is focusing on some different aspects of those trials. No author represents all of them.

Slide 3

There are actually six trials that take place.

There is debate among scholars as to whether or not these are six full-blown trials. Some will say they’re hearings. Others want to say that there are really two trials: there is the religious trial, and there’s the criminal trial. But nevertheless, they divide those into six portions, three each.

I like to use the term trial. I recognize there is a difference between our system of jurisprudence and what we think of as a trial and what other cultures think of as a trial. So, don’t confuse them. I think it is adequate to say, these are six distinct trials.

One of the things that is brought out by many students of Jewish history, as well as what takes place in these trials and also a knowledge of legal issues at the time in Rome and in Israel, is that these trials violate the laws of the Romans, and they profoundly violate the laws of the Jews.

Of these six trials, the first three are basically the religious trials. The first trial is described in John 18:12–14; that is a trial before Annas, who is no longer the active legal high priest, but he is the power behind the high priest throughout all this time, because he’s either, as in the case with Caiaphas, the father-in-law, or he is the father of subsequent high priests.

He will be sent from Annas to Caiaphas, which is not a long distance because they both lived in the same building. It was the house of the high priest; one lived in one wing, one lived in the other, so it’s just going from one side of the house to the other.

Then there was a third trial before the Sanhedrin.

These are described in the verses on the board:

  • The trial by Annas, John 18:12–14
  • Before Caiaphas, Matthew 26:57–68
  • Before the Sanhedrin, Matthew 27:1–2.

Then they go from the Jewish trials—the religious trials—to the criminal trials: the trials before the Roman authorities. There is a trial before Pilate, described in John 18:28–38; and he doesn’t want to have anything to do with it. This needs to be settled by Herod, so he sends Jesus to Herod in Luke 23:6–12.  Herod says, “No, He’s got to go back to Pilate,” so he sends Him back to Pilate, described in John 18:39–19:6.

I don’t want to just focus on what Matthew says, I want to look at the whole scope of what takes place here and what transpired. So, there are these six different trials that take place.

Remember Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane by a mixed multitude. There were Jewish religious leaders: the chief priests and the elders; there were Pharisees and Sadducees. There were Roman soldiers, there were Roman officers that were there.

All of them coming together, Jew and Gentile, conspiring against the Son of God. That crowd, that mixed multitude, represents the world, represents all of us. Jew and Gentile are responsible for the death of Jesus.

There has been this horrible canard down through the centuries that the Jews were Christ-killers, especially in the Middle Ages this flourished into the horrible, poisonous flower of anti-Semitism. That shaped much of the relationship between Jews and Gentiles until the 19th century.

Then you really had the rise or the flourishing of what became known as British Restorationism. Not just Brits, but there were many in Europe who believed that the Jews were still God’s chosen people, even though they had rejected Jesus as Messiah and that God still had a future plan for their lives, and they played a critical role along with Jews.

Most of the time neither side knew what the other was doing in eventually bringing the Jewish people back to their national homeland. But this poisonous fruit of anti-Semitism has negatively shaped so much of the relationship between Christians and Jews, so that there is deep, deep suspicion in the Jewish community toward Christians.

Often, they do not understand Christians, and frankly, not a whole lot better than most Christians understand Judaism. A lot of that goes back to this misidentification of who is responsible for the death of Jesus. It is both Jew and Gentile that is responsible for His death.

The first thing we need to understand, as we look at these passages, is that there are these six trials. The second thing we need to observe is that this is a tremendously dramatic scenario. It is profound. It is intense. The emotions are running high.

There is a little bit of anxiety, perhaps panic, on the part of the Jewish leaders because, remember, they didn’t want Jesus arrested until after the feast days when the multitudes would not get upset, and they wanted to do it somewhat quietly.

All of a sudden, because Jesus revealed to Judas that He knew what he was up to and what the plot was, Judas went to the chief priests and says it’s either now or maybe He’ll escape again. So, at the last minute they had to throw everything together, and that’s reflected a little bit in these trials.

It’s just sort of this impromptu last minute “we gotta do it now or never.” As a result of that, there were numerous illegalities that took place that night, the early dawn, and the next day.

What we need to also understand as we look at this, is that each one of these Gospel writers has a different perspective based on the reason they are writing their Gospel.

Matthew, we know as we have studied, is presenting Jesus as the Messiah, as the Son of Man, who is coming to offer His Kingdom to Israel. The Kingdom is rejected and postponed, and now the King, the Son of Man, a very Jewish Messianic title, has been rejected by the Jews as Messiah, and He will now be crucified.

But in that crucifixion, He fulfills the suffering servant prophecy of Isaiah 53, to die for the sins of His people, to provide righteousness for them. That is in Matthew.

In John, which we will be looking at in the fourth trial and the sixth trial, we see Jesus presented as the Son of God to display and reveal the glory of the Son of God as the Incarnate Son of God.

A couple verses I want us to think through here as we set up the introduction

Slide 4

In John 1:14, which is part of the prologue to John, John says, “And the Word became flash and dwelt among us ...” So, we have the Incarnation there—the Eternal LOGOS, who was God.

John 1:1, In the beginning was the Word …”—the LOGOS—“… and the Word was with God,”—the LOGOS—“… and the Word was God.” An indisputable statement of the full deity of Jesus Christ.

The incarnation is revealed in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

A lot of times when we think about the glory of God, we think back to the Old Testament. We think of that brilliant pillar of fire that stood over the tabernacle that we often refer to as the Shekinah Glory, the glory of the dwelling presence of God.

We think of Moses going up on the mountain and he is with God, and when he comes down he has to put on a veil because his face just reflects this brilliant light that he has been exposed to while he has been in the presence of God.

We think of the glory of God that is something that is heavenly, something from a different dimension, something that is profound, illuminating, and brilliant. But the glory that John talks about is an everyday glory. When Jesus was on the earth, the glory He manifested wasn’t that kind of glory.

The glory that He manifested was the essence of God, and often in the Scriptures that term “the glory of God” is a way of talking about the essence of God. For example, in Romans 3:23 it says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” What “glory of God” means there is the essence of God: we have fallen short of His standard.

When we look at this, “and we beheld Jesus’ glory,” we’re beholding His character. He is displaying for us the character of God in how He interacted with human beings. It is that glory or essence of the Father that’s emphasized. Two qualities are emphasized here: grace and truth.

Slide 5

We’re told a few verses later in John 1:18, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Himor revealed Him.

The word in the Greek is a word you’ve heard the English counterpart to: EXEGEOMAI. It’s where we get our word “exegesis.” It displays out the glory of God. But how does it do it? It does it in the everyday actions of Jesus Christ’s life on the earth.

In fact, in the next chapter, in John 2, we have the first sign that’s given in the Gospel of John. “These signs are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God …” John 20:31. Here we have the first sign, which is the turning of the water into wine at the wedding in Cana.

At the conclusion of that event, we don’t see Jesus showing the effulgence of His divine glory in some brilliant flash of light there. In fact, nobody really knew who He was. They were dumbfounded that this water got turned into the best wine they had ever had.

Slide 6

At the conclusion John 2:11 says, “This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory …”  It’s His grace towards those who were at that wedding feast in providing, supplying for them more wine after they had run out—“… and His disciples believed in Him.”

That’s not saying that before this they were unbelievers and now they’re believers, because you see through John that this statement is made about the disciples again and again. It sort of reinforces what their original position was and their understanding of who He is as Messiah grows and grows through the Gospel.

We also see a couple of other themes that are part of John’s presentation of Jesus. This is a third thing that I want to emphasize in this introduction. We see this presentation of Jesus as the Light that comes into the world of darkness. John presents Jesus again and again as the Light of the World.

Slide 7

In John 1:9 he says, referring to Jesus, that “That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.”

Slide 8

He is a light that illuminates every man coming into the world, but when He entered into the world, specifically the world of Israel at that time, He was rejected. “He came to His own ...” The Light came and they rejected Him; “… and they did not receive Him.”

This is very much a part of John’s presentation of Jesus throughout his Gospel of John—that “His own did not receive Him.”

When we come to the trials, He is emphasizing that His own—the leadership of His own—did not receive Him. Caiaphas, we already know, has rejected Him, but Annas has rejected Him, and the Sanhedrin will come together, and they will reject Him.

Slide 9

We know that there were some who received Him and this is what John says in John 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right …”—the authority—“… to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

In the third chapter of John, we come to our favorite verse, John 3:16: “God loved the world in this way, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Slide 10

John 3:17 then follows that up by saying, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

The first advent wasn’t the basis for the condemnation of the world, because the next verse goes on to say that they’re already condemned, they’re born condemned. They’ve been condemned since Adam sinned.

Slide 11

John 3:18, “He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe in Him has been condemned already …”—he was born condemned—“… because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten son of God.”

The only solution to condemnation is belief: trusting in Christ as the Messiah who died on the Cross for our sins—at the instant that we believe. It’s not believe and be good; it’s not believe and improve your life; it’s not believe and impress everybody with your giving; it’s not believe and serve God. Not that you shouldn’t do all those things, but they have nothing to do with salvation. It is believe only in Jesus as your Savior.

That’s what John says over 95 times in the Gospel of John. He just uses that verb: believe, believe, believe. It’s never qualified. That doesn’t say truly believe, genuinely believe, actually believe. It’s just believe and that’s it; and it never adds anything else to it. The solution is to believe.

We’re condemned because we come into the world condemned, not because Jesus came in the world to condemn us at the first advent in that eternal state.

Slide 12

There is another sense in which there is a condemnation from Jesus which is more in the sense of a conviction of sin and who we are. That’s what John brings out in the very next verses:

John 3:19–20, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil …” The religious leaders, the chief priests, the elders, the Sanhedrin, the Sadducees, the Pharisees, for the most part. There were some who believed, but they were a minority. “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

This is what we see in these trials—both the Jewish trials and the Roman trials—that Jesus, the Light of the World, stands before these human authorities who are supposed to judge Him. But in fact, it is their deeds that are being brought to light in His light and are being exposed, and their condemnation is being revealed.

Slide 13

Jesus is the spotless Lamb of God. He is guiltless; He is perfect; He is absolute righteousness. In 1 Peter 3:18, as we have studied on Thursday night, He is called the Just or the Righteous One who dies in the place of the unjust or the unrighteous ones.

This is a theme that is being brought out by John: that Jesus is standing there before these unjust judges, and even though they are judging Him in one sense, His very presence is a conviction to them. There is a spiritual dimension to that that is being brought out by these various writers, but especially John.

Slide 14

A fourth thing that I want us to think about is in terms of the presentation in Matthew, another aspect of this dramatic presentation.

Matthew 26:57, “And those who laid hold of Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.”

But if you look at Matthew 26:58, it says, “But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest’s courtyard.

Those two verses basically set the stage. Think about going to a play or maybe watching something on TV where you get a split screen, so that you can see action that’s contemporaneous, action going on in one place on this side and action taking place somewhere else on this side. That’s what Matthew introduces here: one verse focuses us on Jesus going to trial; the other verse focuses on Peter on his way to denial. That’s the structure here.

Because I can’t do both at the same time, I want to focus on at least the first two trials, and then we will come back and talk through the issues related to Peter’s denials.

On the one side we’re looking at Peter: he’s outside the temple ground, he’s disguised himself, and he’s hoping against hope that he’s going to gain some sight of his Lord. What are they doing with Him? He’s as curious as he can be, and he wants to make sure everything’s okay, but he doesn’t want anybody to know who he is, and he certainly doesn’t want to get arrested and condemned as well.

On the other side we’re looking at our Lord. I want to think about this. He is demonstrating great courage. He is silent, He is not cowed, He’s not arrogant, He is standing straight, firm, clear conscience, He’s not standing arrogantly, but He is not showing some kind of servile humility either.

He is in fact in absolute control of the situation. Even though He is under arrest, and He is in the presence of these men who are going to condemn Him and take His life on the basis of trumped-up charges, He is completely in control.

When we look at the Matthew account, Matthew doesn’t tell us about the first trial. Matthew just gives us an introduction in Matthew 26:57 to Jesus being taken away to Caiaphas. He totally skips His going to Annas. He’s led away to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the scribes and elders are assembled.

The next verse, He tells us what happens with Peter. In Matthew 26:59, he begins to tell what happens in the trial with the chief priests, the elders and all the Council, which is the Sanhedrin.

Slide 15

In Matthew 26:57 we’re told that the scribes and elders were assembled. That’s the word SUNAGO in the Greek, which is the verb counterpart or cognate to the noun “synagogue.” It just means an assembly.

In Matthew 26:59, he uses the word “council.” That is the word for Sanhedrin; it’s the formal meaning of the Sanhedrin.

Slide 16

What they are going to do is come together and seek a charge against Him and to bring this charge against Him. This ultimately will be provided by Jesus who makes His Messianic claim in Matthew 26:64, where He says after He is asked if He is the Christ, the Son of God, He says, “It is as you said …” He admits it. “Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.

We will look at this in a little more detail later, but he uses the title “Son of Man,” which comes out of Daniel 7, which is clearly a title of deity. It is one of the favorite titles that Matthew uses for Jesus in his Gospel, emphasizing that He is the Messianic King who will come to establish His Kingdom based on Daniel 7.

Jesus also then says He’s the One who will be sitting at the right hand of the Power. That’s a circumlocution for the name of God; it is a reference to Psalm 110, a Messianic Psalm. He clearly affirms the statement of who He is and that at the future, He says, you will see Me “coming on the clouds of heaven.”

We will come back to the second trial, if we have time this morning. If not, I’ll do it next time.

Slide 17

Turn with me to John 18 and we will look at what transpires in this first trial, as the Light of the World stands in the presence of the darkness of Annas and the high priesthood of Israel at that particular time.

In John 18:12, following the arrest of Jesus, the “detachment of troops” is added for clarification. The Greek word refers to a Roman cohort of troops, which was probably about 600 soldiers. The captain that is mentioned there is the Greek word CHILIARCHOS, which referred to a tribune or a commander of the 1,000 troops.

That just reinforces the fact that this is a large group of people. They have arrested Jesus; they have bound Him we’re told here. “And they led Him away …”—or it could be translated, “they brought Him” “… to Annas first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high priest that year.”

Who is Annas? I think it’s really helpful for us to grasp the spiritual dynamics here because Annas is almost the face of religious evil, and he’s worse than that. He’s like a combination of the Ayatollah Khomeini and the godfather in the Godfather series. He is both.

He is a criminal of the worst order. He is involved in all kinds of nefarious enterprises involving bribery and embezzlement and intimidation. And he’s the head of this clan that controls the religious enterprise of Israel at this time. It’s the worst of the worst that’s taking place here.

According to the Mosaic Law, the high priest is appointed for life. He is appointed by Quirinius, when he becomes the ruler in Syria, the procurator in Syria in AD 6, and then he is deposed later by his replacement, Valerius Gratius in AD 15 because he’d become too powerful.

He is removed, and then they go through a period of a couple of years where three different high priests are appointed by Gratius, they don’t last more than a year, and there’s one after the other, so it was very unstable.

The fourth one that’s appointed is Joseph Caiaphas, who is Annas’ son-in-law. What’s interesting is he continues to be high priest until AD 36. So, he is there for approximately 18 or 19 years after such instability.

That shows something about Caiaphas, that he’s able to work with and ingratiate himself into those Romans who were in power. In fact, he even outlasted Pontius Pilate by a short time, by several months. That gives us an insight into them.

Annas is a real powerbroker. He’s pretty old by this time, and he had five sons, each of whom were high priests, and he had a grandson who would become the high priest and one son-in-law, so they just had a lock on this power base in the priesthood.

They ran an extremely corrupt illegal operation. They controlled all the booths. Jesus comes in to cast out the money changers. Well, they’re running that whole operation, and they’re making a 200% profit. It’s just a scam where they’re taking advantage of everybody who comes into the temple to worship, so he’s selling those concessions.

Jesus, of course, really challenges Annas head-on each time he overturns the tables and drives the moneychangers out of the temple. That’s a direct challenge to the family. That’s a direct challenge to Annas, and so Annas has no love for Jesus. He hates Jesus, he wants to do away with Jesus. He’s probably been trying to get Caiaphas to hurry up and do something for some time.

He’s not looked on very favorably by later generations. Rabbis 200 years later wrote in the Talmud, “Woe to the House of Annas. Woe to the serpent’s hiss.” That’s not a real positive view of Annas. “They are high priests, their sons are keepers of the treasury, their sons in-laws are guardians of the Temple, and their servants beat the people with staves.” How’s that for an epitaph on your monument?

Well, Jesus is first brought to Annas in this trial, sort of an arraignment, perhaps. Annas is trying to find something to cause Him to be guilty of.

Just a little bit about Caiaphas. He is somebody who’s able to really work with the Romans in authority. He’s sort of the picture of the politician who’s able to work both sides of the table. He’s like some of our politicians who would be able to work their policy, and no matter what happens, they’re in favor of it. He’s able to keep himself in power for a very long time.

What’s also interesting is that if you look at what goes on, you’ve got Caiaphas, and then Caiaphas succeeded by another of Annas’ sons, and then another of Annas’ sons up through the AD 40s, so that every major martyr in the early church is put to death under the authority of an Annas-descendent family member.

They hated Christianity. In fact, I think that since they had such a lock on things, that if you look at what’s going on in the AD 30s with their hatred of Christianity that they had a special hitman to go out and arrest and execute Christians. And that was Saul of Tarsus.

I was just thinking about that timeframe this morning as I’m working through when all these guys are doing what they’re doing, and that makes perfect sense. That’s the timeframe. Then, of course, Saul is confronted by Jesus on the road to Damascus, and that’s around AD 37 or 38. That’s just a year or two after Caiaphas, but still under a high priest who was Annas’ son.

Slide 18

Caiaphas we know was alive. About 20 years or so ago, they discovered the tomb of the family and they discovered this ornate ossuary—that’s a bone box—for Caiaphas. Caiaphas, John 18:14, was the one “… who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.

John recorded that statement back in John 12 as a prophecy, that what Caiaphas is thinking of is that the Romans are going to want an accountability, but if we give them somebody, then maybe they’ll back off. So maybe if we can give them Jesus, then that will cause them to relax the pressure on the Jewish people.

Slide 19

Little does he know what the real meaning of that is going to be, that Jesus will die for the people. Annas is going to interview Him. John 18:19, he “asked Jesus about His disciples, and His doctrine.”

He wants to find something that he can accuse Jesus of and something that will bring about His condemnation, so he asked about His disciples, who are they? Wants to know who they are, and Jesus is not going to give up any information about His disciples or what is taking place.

In fact, He protects them. Then Jesus answers the second question about His doctrine. Jesus is very sophisticated in the way that He is handling this. He’s basically throwing it back on them. “You brought Me to trial. You should have the information you need to have the evidence against Me.”

He says, “… I spoke openly to the world …”—I didn’t do anything in secret; there was no conspiracy.  “I always taught in the synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing.”

In John 18:20, He is turning His back on them because according to the Jewish law, they weren’t supposed to condemn somebody on the basis of what they said, they we’re supposed to produce two or three witnesses that would provide evidence that would condemn them.

This is another way in which they are violating their own law. So, Jesus is throwing it back at him: “You’re condemning Me; you provide the witnesses, you provide the evidence.”

In John 18:21 He says, “Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said.”

Slide 20

John 18:22, “And when He had said this one, of the officers standing by …” Now we know that it’s not just Him and Annas. John’s theme is what? Jesus comes into the world—He is the Light of the World—to confront everybody with the issue of His identity, one on one.

Initially He presents it as if it’s just Jesus and Annas because He recognizes it’s every individual’s decision how they’re going to respond to Jesus. It’s not until this point that we know that there’s someone else there, there’s an officer there, who just reaches over and slaps Him in the face, which is also a violation of the law.

The condemned person is not supposed to be beaten. He attacked Jesus and said to Him, “… is that the way You answer the high priest?” John 18:23, Jesus said to him, “If I’ve spoken wrongly, bear witness of the wrong …

He’s sticking with the law; whereas, the others are violating the law. We see that happening a lot today. Civilized people are a people who live by the law.

That is the end of that scenario, and Jesus is sent from there to Caiaphas. This is where Matthew picks up—the second trial which is with Caiaphas. I’m going to stop here because we have run out of time due to us having the Lord’s Table today. We will come back next time and look at the second set of trials and get a little further in our study.

The point is Jesus challenges each of us because He’s the Light of the World. What is our response to Him? If you’re a believer, then your response is, are you going to grow spiritually and let Jesus continue to be the Light of your life?

If you’re an unbeliever, the issue is, are you going to respond to the Gospel and trust in Jesus as the Savior of the world to save you from your sins?

Closing Prayer

“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study these things about our Lord and about His unjust treatment. As Peter says it is the Just who is dying for the unjust, and it is the Just who is condemned by the unjust.

“Father, as we study this, we are just impressed by how much our Lord went through physically prior to the Cross, all on our behalf, and that just gives us a small glimpse of what He went through, what He endured spiritually when He bore our sins in His own body on the tree.

“Father, we pray that You would challenge those who listen, that if there’s someone who’s listening who’s never trusted in Christ as Savior, never understood the Gospel, never understood that Jesus came to show God’s love for us, that He provided us with the perfect salvation, that He offers us forgiveness of sin and eternal life, and it’s a free gift.  

“All that is necessary to respond is to believe—to simply accept that salvation as a free gift—and at that instant we’re declared righteous, and we’re given eternal life.

“Father, we pray that You would challenge the rest of us with the love that our Father has for us in providing such a perfect salvation, that we have been bought with a price, and therefore, we are not our own, and that we have been saved for a purpose, and that is to serve You.

“We pray these things in Christ’s name, amen.”