We are now a week into our reading of Frederick Leahy’s The Cross He Bore. We are also, of course, just a week away from remembering Jesus’ death and celebrating his resurrection. Today’s text is Matthew 26:65,66: “Then the high priest tore his robes and said, ‘He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?’ They answered, ‘He deserves death.’”
Here is just a brief quote from the chapter:
There stands Caiaphas, his torn robe a fitting symbol of his redundancy, now that the great and everlasting high priest has come. There stands the Christ whom God introduced into the loins of Abraham and whose day Abraham rejoiced to see (John 8:56). Now his heart is broken by a heavy grief, broken by the hand of God. “It was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief…” (Isaiah 53:10). Before the hearts of God’s elect could be broken, the Saviour’s heart had to be rent with unspeakable anguish. For all who would know God’s mercy in Christ the message is clear. “Rend your hearts and not your garments” (Joel 2:13). “A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).
Caiaphas has followed his declared policy–one for all. There is a strange irony here, for unwittingly the high priest was enunciating a principle that lay at the very heart of redemption. “The Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). The Apostle Paul elaborates on this principle. “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). One for all! So another voice has spoken in Caiaphas’ court. That word was spoken in the eternal counsels of the Godhead, and Christ had accepted it on behalf of those whom the Father had given to him. One for all! Did he hear that voice again as he stood condemned by the Sanhedrin? He certainly had not forgotten it. Ultimately two voices have spoken in that courtroom, the voice of God and the voice of Satan: both said, “One for all.” But there is a fundamental disagreement between them. God speaks in terms of redemptive substitution, substitutionary atonement; Caiaphas, who is Satan’s tool as much as Judas, speaks in terms of elimination. God would have his son die for his people so that they might live; Caiaphas would have Christ die in order to be rid of him, and so he sticks by his policy that it was expedient that one man should die for the people rather than that the whole nation should perish.