It was a privilege to preach at the Crowded House on Sunday where two folks were baptised.
The sermon begins at about 10 minutes. (If you’ve heard me on Christ’s baptism before, you might want to skip to the 19 minute mark).
Here we have an artist’s dream. If you’re a film-maker, a writer, a playwright – you would love to depict this scene: Humanity putting its Maker on trial. What a scenario! All the Gospels tell us about this in some detail – these show trials with trumped up charges. Because the bible makes it clear: the so called judges in these trials are the guilty ones. The one in the dock is the only innocent one. Nonetheless He stoops into the dock, to be tried by His creatures. This is the Judge of the world, judged.
And what we see in Jesus is the most incredible stillness and poise. He is like a mirror, reflecting back the accusations of His prosecutors. At every stage of His cross-examination, He manages to get confessions out of His prosecutors! Ingenius!
The brilliance of Jesus is to allow their judgements of Him to judge them. Their accusations only end up accusing them. This is true any time you try to judge a great one.
If you call Shakespeare hackneyed and cliched, it doesn’t reflect badly on Shakespeare, it reflects badly on you. If you call the Grand Canyon “a glorified ditch”, or the Great Wall of China “shoddy workmanship”, or Lionel Messi “a Sunday-league amateur” – that tells you nothing about Shakespeare or the Grand Canyon or the Great Wall or Lionel Messi. It tells you everything about you.
When we judge the Judge it tells us nothing about Him it tells us everything about ourselves. Do you want to know what you’re like? Think about this judgement scene. The Judge of the world condescends into the dock and submits to these kangaroo courts. And we – the judges – find Him guilty of a capital offence. What is His crime? To be the Son of God.
When our Maker goes on trial we find Him worthy of death? Why? For being who He is.
In Luke 23 we see everyone making this verdict: the powerful, the weak, the Jews, the non-Jews, the rich, the poor – everyone deems Him worthy of death. And what is Jesus’ response?
He goes to the cross. And as He is hoisted up He prays “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.” (v34)
The Judge is judged. He does not protect Himself or justify Himself. He exposes Himself to every accusation, every insult, every blow – both judicial and physical. And He retaliates with mercy: “Father, forgive.” This is the heart of God for you.