“His Hurt for Our Healing – Hurt by False Accusation”

(Mark 14:55-64 – Midweek Lent 2 – March 13, 2019)

Mark 14:55-64 – Now the chief priests and all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimonies did not agree. Then some rose up and bore false witness against Him, saying, “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.'” But not even then did their testimony agree. And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” But He kept silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.

Dear Redeemed in the name of Jesus Christ, who was hurt for our healing:

This last Sunday in our worship service, we heard the account of Jesus’ temptation by the devil in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13). That name “devil” in the Greek, is diabolos – the diabolic one. The same word is also translated “slanderer, false accuser, malicious gossip” (2 Timothy 3:11, 26). This name truly describes the evil nature and work of the devil.

Once when Jesus was speaking to opponents, He said: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” The devil, by his fallen nature, cannot but tell a lie. Oh, He may dabble with half-truths, but only for the purpose of deception, to support the greater lie. On that occasion, Jesus went on to tell His opponents: “Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?” (John 8:44-46). The reason why, of course, was that they belonged to their father, the devil, under whose spell they were seeking falsely to accuse and kill Jesus.

So from the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus had dealt with the temptation of the father of lies. Here in our text, Jesus is still dealing with the lies and false accusation of the diabolic one, through his puppets in a sham Jewish court. True to the nature and work of the devil, these men are bent on bringing false accusations against Jesus, seeking some reason to kill Him.

It says: “Now the chief priests and all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimonies did not agree. Then some rose up and bore false witness against Him, saying, ‘We heard Him say, “I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.” ‘ But not even then did their testimony agree.”

As we heard on Sunday in the temptation of Jesus, the devil loves to twist the words of the Lord. He can quote Scripture better than anyone; but only for the wrong purpose. Here, the slanderer twists words Jesus had spoken early in His ministry. When Jesus had seen those who were selling livestock and changing money in the temple, in zeal for His Father’s house He had driven them out. At that time, His opponents demanded a sign that He had authority to do such things. Jesus had answered: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” They thought He meant Herod’s Temple, which had taken 46 years to build. “But He was speaking of the temple of His body” (John 2:18-22). For Jesus already knew they would crucify Him. But as He had taught His disciples, He would raise His body again on the third day.

But as far as Satan’s purpose was concerned, the Jewish rulers need not care about the true meaning of Jesus’ words. In the devil’s economy, the truth does not matter; only the results do. The endgame was to get rid of Jesus. So what did it matter that the accusers’ testimony did not even agree? They had spoken enough against Jesus, in their minds, to give Him a bad name. And Jesus wasn’t even speaking up to defend Himself; surely that made Him look guilty!

At last the high priest Caiaphas, as leader of the Council, addresses Jesus: “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” But Jesus fulfilled the words of Isaiah 53:7: “Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.” And did the Lord really need to answer? Should not the religious leaders know better than to hold a sham trial based on false witnesses; and for that matter, to hold an illegal trial by night to begin with?

Caiaphas is anxious to be done with it, whatever it takes. So now he brings in the clincher, the real question that divides truth from falsehood, and those who stand on one side or the other. He asks Jesus: “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Now under oath by the living God, Jesus gives His witness to the truth: “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

Those on the side of falsehood knew what they would do. Satan had put it in their hearts. Caiaphas tore his clothes saying: “‘What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?’ And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.”

Truly the Lord, who will come again on the clouds of heaven as the holy Judge of all, greatly humbled Himself to stand this way before an unholy court of sinners and be falsely accused. Though He is the Son of God, who knew from eternity all the injustice He would face at the hands of His creatures; yet this foreknowledge did not make it any easier. As the true Son of Man in our flesh and blood, it hurt Jesus deeply to be falsely accused and condemned unjustly.

But again, it had to be so. For He who had come to bring healing to a world so deeply hurt by sin, had to feel deepest hurt Himself. Isaiah 53:4 says: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” One of those griefs and sorrows was the hurt caused by false accusation.

How often has this fallen world felt the hurt of false accusation and unjust blame? From the moment Adam and Eve fell into the devil’s temptation, they were infected by his diabolic venom. There they were pointing the accusing finger, passing the blame in the spirit of falsehood. Adam said: “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” Eve said: “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Not only was it the other’s fault; but they insinuated, it was God who put that someone or something in their life that caused the problem.

When has false accusation ever stopped? How often have people been brought to judgment on false charges, because their enemies sought some way to hurt them or be rid of them? How often have cases been decided, not by witness to the truth, but by evil influences pulling strings in high places, or by judges who have looked the other way? Perhaps, we wonder about court cases that become emotionally charged in the public eye, because they are loaded with social or political baggage. It is not just about those in court; it is about entire classes of people lobbying for their interests. Will the judge be swayed like a referee in a game who feels pressured by loud fans to issue a call? A false charge at any level can hurt, especially when it’s a game changer.

A Christian loses his business or is forced out of a job, though he excelled in his profession. Why? Because for the sake of conscience, he will not support what he knows is false and wicked. While speaking God’s truth in love, He is willing to suffer the false charge of hate imposed by a court, or the false charge of incompetence imposed by employer. Halfway around the world, another Christian loses his freedom, his family, or even his life. Why? Because he will not give up his faith in Christ. While sharing the saving Gospel truth in love, He is willing to suffer the false charge of blasphemy against Allah, or the false charge of rebellion against the State. In how many ways modern martyrs, witnesses to the truth of Christ, feel the hurtful hand of the diabolic one, pulling strings through his puppets in this world. But they stand with Christ.

Have you ever been hurt by false accusation? You know how hard it is to take when someone blames you for saying or doing something wrong, though you were innocent. Sometimes to make matters worse, they spread the malicious word to ruin your reputation. Have you lost something because of false accusation, even if it was only the respect you once had with others? Others may never understand. No matter how hard you try to explain the truth in the justice of your cause, you may just have to live with their condemning assumptions.

But we must also ask ourselves: have we hurt others by false accusation? Have we imposed unjust judgment? The Eighth Commandment says: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” The Catechism explains how this applies, not only in court but in daily life: “We should fear and love God, so that we do not lie about, betray or slander our neighbor, but excuse him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.” But our sinful nature inherited from Adam, still under the influence of the serpent’s venom, quickly turns to false witness. We get a glimpse of someone’s actions or hear a piece of a conversation, and our minds fill in the rest. We accuse based on evidence we want to believe, even though there could be a better explanation. Instead of going directly to a person and speaking the truth in love to heal some wrong, we talk about it to others. So the hurt is not healed, but it is spread around.

When we are falsely accused, we are tempted to lash back at others – to speak maliciously in return, to get others on our side who will join us in accusing them. But it was not so with Jesus. As He stood the court of Caiaphas, unjustly accused and condemned to death, 1 Peter 2:22-23 describes His response: “‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth’; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”

Jesus did not come into the world the first time to judge, but to save sinners (John 12:47). He had come to render the perfect life before His Father that replaces our sinful life. So He always kept the Eighth Commandment. Even now, He loved those who hurt Him. By speaking the truth in love, He was calling them to repent that they might be saved by faith in Him as the Christ, the Son of God. It is Jesus’ perfect response to false accusation that God counts to you and me.

Jesus had come to die for the sins of the world. He had come to die for the sins of His false accusers, too. And He came to die for you and me, fallen children of Adam who are bitten by the venom of the diabolical one and dying of sin. The innocent Son of God took all our sins to the cross. He took every sin of false accusation and unjust judgment proceeding from our heart. He took every hurtful word we have spoken to one another, as well as every hurtful word of gossip and slander we have spoken behind one another’s back. And Jesus paid the price it took to remove all our sin and guilt – the price of his innocent blood, His suffering and death for us.

The Son of God had come to destroy the work of the devil (1 John 3:8). For now, when the Accuser tries to bring us before heaven’s Judge, pointing the condemning finger, claiming we deserve to share his judgment, he has no case. For God has already laid that judgment on His own Son. He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

In Jesus’ hurt we find true healing in God’s forgiveness. Even if Satan and the world under his influence say all kinds of evil against us falsely for Jesus’ sake, yet Jesus says: “Blessed are you” (Matthew 5:11). For we stand with Him who vindicates us before God. There at the right hand of His Father, Jesus presents His blood sacrifice by which all our sins are forgiven. Jesus presents us to His Father as His baptized children, clothed in His perfect life (Romans 8:33-34).

So let us live in the freedom of the children of God. Since Jesus was hurt for us, let us live in His healing. When we feel the guilt of an accusing conscience let us confess our sins, knowing He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). When we are falsely accused, misunderstood, judged wrongly, let us bring our hurt to Him who promises: “He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday” (Psalm 37:5-6). As we find healing in Jesus’ wounds, He empowers us to share His healing with others: forgiving those who have hurt us, speaking His truth in love that saves sinners.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.