Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find witnesses who would lie about Jesus, so they could put him to death. But even though they found many who agreed to give false witness, they could not use anyone’s testimony. Finally, two men came forward who declared, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”
Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” But Jesus remained silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I demand in the name of the living God—tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
Jesus replied, “You have said it. And in the future you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Blasphemy! Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?”
“Guilty!” they shouted. “He deserves to die!”
Then they began to spit in Jesus’ face and beat him with their fists. And some slapped him, jeering, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who hit you that time?” (Matthew 26:59–67)
Why was Jesus’ acknowledgement of being the Messiah and his announcement that he would be seated in a place of power said to be “blasphemy?” Because the religious establishment did not believe he was the Messiah: they believed he was claiming a false status and a false relationship to God. They thought Jesus was from Satan, using Satan’s power to accomplish his miracles. By claiming an alliance with God, he was, in their minds, claiming Satan had allied with God. Their belief that Jesus was a false Messiah—an antichrist—is what led them to condemn him.
The religious establishment looked at Jesus, what he had said, what he had done, and interpreted him in ways that were at odds with reality. It is easy to misinterpret circumstances and words. It is easy to assume the opposite of how things really are. Just as human beings for thousands of years misunderstood the nature of the solar system, imagining that it was the sun in motion rather than the earth rotating. So we must be careful not to misunderstand the words of Jesus, the power of Jesus, and the nature of the circumstances in which we find ourselves.