TRIAL BY RELIGION

Scripture Reading:  John 18:12-14; 19-24

“The high priest then questioned Jesus about His disciples and His teaching.  Jesus answered him, ‘I have spoken openly to the world.  I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together.  I have said nothing in secret.  Why do you ask Me?  Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them; they know what I said.’  When He said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, ‘Is this how you answer the high priest?’” (John 18:19-22)

If there is ever a picture of how religion is an enemy of the gospel, here it is!  Religion denies the gospel.  In fact, the gospel is a threat to religion.  In this passage, religion, represented by the high priest, stands in opposition to the gospel, whose Author is Jesus.  Religion questions Jesus’ teachings and it creates a spiritual arrogance that slaps Jesus on the face.

The  high priest to which this passage refers is Annas the father-in-law of the actual high priest serving at that time, Caiphas.  Annas was the patriarch of one of the three powerful families of priests who ruled under the Romans.  Though Annas was not technically the high priest, as patriarch of his family, he still had great influence.  Five of his sons including his son-in-law Caiphas served as high priests under the firm hand of Annas.

Here was the human representative head of the religious institution of that day putting the representative Head of the human race, Jesus, on trial.  This human high priest was actually questioning the one, true High Priest, Jesus, who ruled over the kingdom of God! This is a picture of religion standing against the gospel of grace — two opposing faiths — one representing works and the other representing grace.

The gospel of grace is hard for religious people to grasp because it goes against the core of what religious people believe.  Religion stresses performance, attempting to earn God’s favor and blessing.  Such religious performance leads to pride and self-righteousness.  The gospel shatters religion because one can never be good enough to earn God’s favor.  Grace is our only hope!  Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves.  He perfectly obeyed God’s Law and He became the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

The religious institution in Jesus’ day made a mockery of Jesus and His teaching.  Religion does the same today.  But Jesus graciously prevailed and ultimately He won the victory for us.

Lord Jesus, thank You for the gift of eternal life that You accomplished for Me.  Thank you for Your grace and mercy.  Thank You for delivering me from religion and bringing me to the light of the gospel.

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