March 26, 2017
December, 2015 Netflix came out with a documentary called “Making a Murderer.” The documentary followed the story of a man named Steven Avery. In 1985, Steven was wrongfully convicted of sexual assault and attempted murder of a woman on the beach in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. He wrongfully served 18 years in prison, but in 2003 DNA evidence cleared him and proved that he was innocent. Think about that. For 18 years he served a sentence that he didn’t deserve. Someone else deserved the punishment he received.
As soon as he got out, he filed a suit and sued the court for the wrong they had done against him. Shortly after filing the suit against the court, he was arrested for the murder of a 25-year-old named Teresa Halbach who was last seen on his salvage yard. The documentary follows the arrest, the gathering of evidence, and the court procedures.
When this documentary came out, it was all that anyone could talk about. We even talked about it here at church. Why was it so popular? Because a seeming injustice took place. Is he innocent or is he not? I don’t know. But what I do know is that the documentary made it seem that he was set up; that Manitowoc county had the guy they wanted and all they needed to do was plant enough evidence on him to get him. Again, did he do it, I don’t know. But one thing is for sure:
Nobody likes injustice
Nobody likes it. We don’t like to see someone get blamed for something they didn’t do, nor do we like to see someone at get praised for something someone else did. At work, it makes you feel uncomfortable when Bill gets blamed for something Tim did. You don’t like to see that. Parents, you get upset at the school when you feel your child is being treated unfairly. You get angry at the referees as they make bad calls against your favorite team. You feel they aren’t treating your team fairly. Arguments happen in the family when siblings feel like there’s injustice involved and they aren’t being treated fairly. In the political world that we live in today, you could take any issue and find people who are upset because they feel that either they or people they love are being treated unfairly.
What emotions well up inside of us when we see injustice? Well, we generally have 2 responses. The first is anger. We want nothing more than to defend our loved one even if it means a screaming match. Bring it on, we will get justice. Or, we feel pity. We feel bad for those people who suffer injustice. When Making a murderer came out, a lot of people felt these two emotions. They were angry because he is serving for a crime it seems he didn’t commit. And they feel bad for the guy who is stuck in jail.
Today, you may feel those emotions because we are about to look at the greatest injustice that ever took place in a courtroom. We continue in our series called the Ransom. We are looking at what Jesus gave up, the price he paid, to set us free. Today, we see he gave up justice. We are once again in Mark 14.
53 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. 54 Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.
55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.
57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree.
Alright, there is more injustice taking place than we may imagine. As we take a closer look into Jewish culture and the Jewish laws, this whole thing is unjust.
1) to have a trial at night was completely forbidden by Jewish law. They were only allowed to hold court during daylight hours. Yet here they are in the middle of the night, around 1 am, holding court.
2) Legally, Jewish law said that there needed to be an accusation, then only after evidence had been found that the accusation may actually be true, could an arrest be made. But here, an arrest had been made with no accusation against him. Because there’s no accusation, there’s no evidence he’s done anything wrong. And so that’s what they are doing here. The Jewish court is trying to find an accusation and evidence from somebody to bring against their already arrested prisoner.
To summarize how unjust this courtroom is, Richard Lenski, a bible commentator says, “So, unindicted, illegally arrested, he stands at this illegal hour before this illegally convened court.” On top of those injustices, his punishment has already been figured out despite having a shred of evidence against him.
So, they start to dig for evidence to find some reason to condemn this man to death, but no one can agree on anything. Some of them talked before stepping forward so that they gave the same story. But even when they stepped forward to bring false charges, their stories still didn’t line up.
It’s pretty incredible isn’t it? With all the teaching that Jesus did, all the thousands he talked in front of, performed miracles in front of, not a single person could accuse him of wrongdoing.
What a comfort that is to you. See, in order to get to heaven, we need a perfect record. Yet, you and I are anything but perfect. One glance at our track record and we see imperfections and brokenness in just about every aspect of our lives. We need a substitute, and the Bible tells us Jesus is the substitute we need. He is our substitute who took the punishment that we deserve for our sin, but he’s also our substitute who lived the perfect life that God demanded of us.
Here, as he stands before the court, we once again get reassured that Jesus is in fact that perfect substitute that we need. Not a single person can accuse him of any wrong because he never committed a single sin. Jesus takes that perfect record and applies it to your own. No one can bring a charge against you in the sight of God because you stand before him innocent.
The high priest, who was the judge in the Jewish court, felt the situation was slipping away. Soon, he’d have to let Jesus go because there wasn’t any evidence of wrong doing. So he steps in and takes matters into his own hands.
60 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?” 61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.
Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”
The high priest stands up and tries to bait Jesus into responding to these false accusations, but he remained silent. He wasn’t going to waste his breath on rumors. He wasn’t going to fuel the fire. He remained silent.
Finally, the high priest gets to the heart of the matter. He gets to the question that is really behind this whole thing, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”
This is what really bothered the Jewish religious leaders. They did not like that he was claiming to be the Messiah because he didn’t fit the Messiah they were looking for. This is why they wanted God dead because they didn’t like what God had to say. They put themselves into God’s judgment seat and judged God. All because his word went against what they wanted, and so they were looking for a way to kill him. And Jesus says…
“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.”
He not only says, “Yes I am,” but then he shows how he fulfills a prophecy from Daniel 7. Jesus says, “Guess what, these Scriptures are talking about me. You want to know if I’m God? Here’s your proof. If you don’t want to believe it now, fine. But be ready to be judged by me.” This is exactly the answer the High Priest was looking for.
63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”
They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.
Jesus is the judged judge. The high priest tore his clothes in anger. He accuses Jesus of blasphemy which is claiming the attributes of God, and announces that Jesus deserves death.
Here again, Lenski says injustice is taking place. According to Jewish legal procedures, the verdict could be passed only after a second session of the court which needed to take place on another day. It could never take place on the same day. So by law, they could only present the facts, but had to come back the next day to vote. But here, none of that happens. The high priest says he’s guilty, works everyone up to say he’s guilty, and the verdict finalized. He’s the judged judge.
Then the men who are supposed to uphold justice in the country, take God and beat him. They spit in his face and have all kinds of Satanic fun at God’s expense. All because they didn’t like what God had to say.
So, how do you feel? Angry? Pity? Do you feel sorry for Jesus? How do you feel about these church leaders? Do you think they are scum? Unfortunately, we aren’t so different from them.
We put ourselves in the judgments seat.
Remember, what was their problem? Their biggest problem was that they didn’t like what the true God had to say. They wanted God to be who they wanted him to be.
They didn’t like what Jesus said, and so they judged him and got rid of hm. Sometimes we do the same thing. We don’t like what God has to say because its not what we want. Just like these leaders we want to decide what is right and wrong.
So we see God say in the Bible that there’s only one way to heaven, but that’s not my god. My god let’s everyone into heaven who is faithful to what they believe.
Jesus says in his Word, that he gives me everything I have, and as a response to these gracious gifts he wants us to give an offering. But we don’t like that. My god wouldn’t expect me to give money to a church.
We see God say in the Bible that we should even love our enemies, but that’s too hard. My god wouldn’t make me do that. And so we judge God and what he says.
And what’s worse is that we trick ourselves into thinking that we are believing in the real God, but what we end up doing is making a false god. But here’s the reality: when we pick and choose what we want to believe in the Bible based on how we feel about it, we do exactly what these church leaders did.
What did we just do? We killed the real God. We judged him and replaced him. But here’s the thing: Jesus doesn’t care. It doesn’t matter what we do to him. He is going to come back on the clouds of heaven, and he will get his seat back. He will judge us not based on our feelings or how faithful we have been to our system of beliefs that we have set up for ourselves. He will judge us according to his Word.
That is what he told the leaders, but they didn’t like what Jesus said. He didn’t fit the god they wanted. So Jesus became the judged judge. They condemned him to death. They killed God so they could believe what they wanted. The greatest injustice took place. But…
The greatest injustice justified us.
Jesus was the victim of the greatest injustice the world has ever seen. But that injustice is the greatest gift to you and me. That day there was another court being held at the same time this one was. It wasn’t a physical court, but a heavenly court. Jesus stood before God’s courtroom, but in this courtroom there was someone else. You. Everyone knew you were guilty. Everyone knew Jesus was innocent. But that night Jesus received the guilty verdict that you deserved, so that you could receive the pardon that he deserved. You were judged innocent on all accounts. He was condemned.
See, that’s what God has done for you. God, the judge of the world, condemned Jesus to death. And because Jesus suffered the injustice, we have been accepted by God. It’s like Peter said in our reading earlier, by his wounds we have been healed. Because Jesus suffered this injustice, because he went to the cross and he rose again, your sinful wounds have been healed. You are pardoned by God and are free from punishment. He served the sentence you deserved so you can go free. The greatest injustice justified you.
No one likes injustice. Nobody does. As we look at this account, we feel different emotions. We either get angry, we feel sorry for Jesus, or we feel guilty. We feel guilty because it was our sins that put him there. But Jesus doesn’t want us to feel any of those emotions. Rather, he wants you to be thankful.
For 18 years, Steven Avery served a sentence he didn’t deserve while the actual rapist and murderer went free. He didn’t want to be there or serve the sentence. But he had too anyway.
The difference between other injustices and the greatest injustice, is that Jesus willingly took it on. He wanted to serve your punishment that you might go free. He willingly went through it all because he loved you that much. There’s no need to be angry, pity him, or feel guilty. Rather he wants you to be thankful. Live your lives to glorify Jesus, the judged judge. Let him rule your hearts and lives. Live your lives to thank him for the amazing love he has shown you.