Sorrow changes into joy

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During Lent Christians want to follow Jesus on the path of suffering to Golgatha. From Getsemane He was taken as a prisoner to appear before the high priest, Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin. They "kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus in order that they might put Him to death" (Matt. 26:59). Ahead was history's most tragic death by trial. The Romans had given the chief priests and the Sanhedrin the right to judge in the internal matters of the people. The ancient system of administering justice employed by the Jews required witnesses. Jesus, of course, had broken no law. They knew this and that is why they obtained false witnesses. Falsehood was clothed in truth's clothes. The administration of justice was not possible without witnesses or a show of evidence. The matter also had to be explained to the people. Even the accusers themselves would not have been satisfied with the real reason: They did not like this man because He had spoken the truth. But even the false witnesses were of no help. They contradicted each other.

In Jesus they had a decisive witness. The high priest speaking to Him said: "I adjure you by the living God, that you tell us whether you are the Christ, the Son of God" (Matt. 26:63). Jesus agreed to swear that this was true, saying: "You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven" (Matt. 26:64). Jesus confessed that He was indeed the Christ and God's Son. Jesus had demonstrated that He was, by performing many, real miracles. Everyone should have been willing to confess this to be true.

The Jews, however, did not want a Savior. But here we see God's wisdom and almighty power. The unbelieving Jews had to do that which the Bible had prophesied concerning Jesus. Just as they were raging against Jesus and planning to kill Him, they laid the framework for Jesus' vicarious suffering, without intending to do so. When the high priest heard Jesus confirming His testimony with an oath, he said: "He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy. What do you think? They answered and said, 'He is deserving of death'" (Matt. 26:65,66).

If any one other than Jesus had claimed to be God's Son, according to the Law of Moses he would have deserved death (Lev.24:16). But Jesus was, and is now and forever, the Lord of glory. Jesus submitted to this sort of injustice so that we might have peace. Hardness of heart and unbelief dim the rays of divine glory shining forth from the way of suffering and conceal the sinner's salvation. They lead to terrible deeds. But when the Holy Spirit reveals the meaning of the way of suffering to the heart, then hardness changes into an awareness of one's guilt, and sorrow changes into the joy of salvation.