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The Limited Power of Darkness

One ship drives east and another drives west

With the selfsame winds that blow.

‘Tis the set of the sails and not the gales

Which tells us the way to go.

Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate,

As we voyage along through life:

Tis the set of a soul that decides its goal,

And not the calm or the strife.

-Ella Wheeler Wilcox


You would think that if the wind was blowing against you while you were sailing, it would mean you would have to go in the direction that the wind was blowing.


But sailors have learned that they can reset their sails to harness the power of the wind that is blowing against them and have it propel them the direction they want to go.


Last week we saw Jesus’ intense prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane before His arrest. At the end of praying, He got up ready to face all that came next.  


While praying in the garden Jesus had re-aligned Himself with what He knew to be the Father’s will. He set His sails, if you will, to face what came next. What came next would be the unleashing of the power of darkness upon Him.

We have previously dealt with Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial, let’s pick it up in Luke 22:52.

Read Luke 22:52-54, 63-71         The Limited Power of Darkness              Let’s Pray!

After His arrest Jesus endured 6 different unofficial and official trials over the next 12 hours – three before Jewish leaders, and 3 before Roman Gentile leaders. We will look at the Jewish trials today, and the Roman ones next time.

Jesus’ mistreatment was fueled by the power of darkness                     V. 52-54

The word for robber in verse 52 could also be translated revolutionary, such as the infamous Barabbas who was sitting in a Roman stockade across town. Barabbas had led an insurrection against Rome in which people had died.

Jesus said to the religious leaders – are you putting Me in the same category as the violent evildoers of the world?

Look at verse 54 – they arrested Jesus and led Him to the High Priest’s house.

Caiaphas was the High Priest. He was married to the daughter of Annas, the former High Priest who still called a lot of the shots.

John’s gospel lets us know that while Peter was in the courtyard outside Annas’ and Caiphas’ houses, Jesus was being grilled by first Annas, then Caiphas from Midnight until 3 AM (when the rooster crowed). It was all illegal!

Trials were to be held during the day, not the night. Death penalty cases were to be held in public at the Temple, not in private at the High Priest’s home.

They were railroading Jesus, and He knew it!

What was behind their mistreatment of Jesus?      The power of darkness!

The word for power there is exousia – it can also be translated authority. Darkness was expressing power and authority through them!

These guys thought they were really sticking it to Jesus. But they couldn’t do anything to Jesus He Himself didn’t allow to happen to Him.

Jesus said to them – this is your hour, to show the power of darkness, the limited power of darkness

They had come in the night to avoid the crowds following Jesus during the day. They thought doing this at night would protect them.

Jesus essentially said to them, “You guys think you are in control of the proceedings, but your bad choices don’t control the proceedings, they are merely the background for what God is going to do.”

What do you mean, Pastor Danny?

Well think about the darkness of the night sky. When you look up at the night sky, is your attention brought to the ocean of darkness you see?

No, your attention is focused on the stars you see shining in the sky! The darkness is just the backdrop that helps you see the stars!

They thought they were the stars, but Jesus is our North Star!

Their free will actions to reject Jesus just made them part of the darkness that makes Jesus shine so beautifully through!

Even those who mistreat Jesus are merely ‘playing’ their part in a drama they will not have the last word – God always has the last Word!  

Mistreatment of Jesus is fueled by the power of darkness.

Human mistreatment of Jesus is blasphemy                                    V. 63-65

Between 3 AM and daylight this happened, before the full Sanhedrin met (v. 66).

The Temple Guard did this even before Jesus was officially found guilty.

They did this after Annas’ and Caiphas’ illegal questioning of Jesus in the middle of the night. Here they mock Jesus’ claim to be a prophet.

What is human mistreatment of Jesus?

It’s blasphemy, because Jesus really is God!

Those who held Jesus Mocked Jesus, Beat Jesus, Blindfolded Jesus, Struck Jesus and Insulted Jesus – “Prophesy who hit you!”

What they didn’t know was that they were fulfilling Scripture!

His visage was marred more than any man (Isaiah 52:14); He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised and we did not esteem Him (53:3). He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth (53:7).

There are more verses about the beatings Jesus underwent, even in Isaiah 53.

Do you remember what our affirmation verses say – Say it with me:

Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was NECESSARY for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”              -Luke 24:46-47

Interestingly, even in this moment of humiliation Jesus was able to practice what He preached. He had said in Matthew 5, “whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”

It was within His power to stop them at any time, but He did not. He turned the other cheek.

Now what these soldiers did was really bad, but they were probably just ignorantly following orders of the leaders. They of course must give an account for that.

But by far the greater judgment will fall on those who had poured over their Bible scrolls for decades, but missed that they had allowed the TRUE Messiah to be beaten and blasphemed in their presence.

Mistreatment of Jesus is fueled by the power of darkness; Mistreatment of Jesus is blasphemy.

Mistreatment of Jesus will be judged                                                             V. 66-71

Many of the rulers of Israel had already decided Jesus’ guilt in the middle of the night at Annas’ and Caiphas’ house in an illegal trial.

Now they were holding the official daylight trial. The word for council is the word we get Sanhedrin from. It had 70 members – the rulers of Israel.  

We do know of two courageous Sanhedrin member who didn’t go along with them.                Look at 23:50-51

Joseph of Arimathea didn’t go along with them!

Do you know the other ruler who didn’t go along with them?

Nicodemus from John 3 – Ruler of the Jews  

In John 19:38-42 we learn he helped Joseph of Arimathea deal compassionately with Jesus’ body.

But back to the situation at hand.  

In the morning after Caiphas and Annas had pre-judged Jesus in the middle of the night, they brought the official Sanhedrin together to try to stick it to Jesus.

They wanted to get Jesus to say on the record that He believed Himself to be the Messiah (Christ), the Son of God.

Then they would say He was guilty of blasphemy. The kind of blasphemy they were referring to is for a mere man to say he is God when he is not.

Jesus really was God, so for Him to say He is God is not blasphemy but truth.

They of course rejected that, but it was due to their willful rejection of the facts staring them straight in the face.

So here they were, trying to get Jesus on record blaspheming so they could pronounce judgment on Him. 

Blasphemy was punishable by death under Jewish law (Leviticus 24:10-16), but they couldn’t enforce it because they were under Roman law.

“If you are the Christ, tell us!”

I love Jesus’ initial answer to them!

If I tell you, you won’t believe; if I question you, you won’t answer!

He knew their minds and hearts! He knew their unbelief and intellectual dishonesty (Luke 20:1-8). It was futile to make a vigorous defense or debate them.

He had already given them enough evidence of who He was to repent and believe (John 12:37-43).

With hardened and corrupt hearts they had rejected their God and King. Their hearts were already set on rejection, not repentance.

You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; but these are they which testify of Me. But you are unwilling to come to Me that you may have life.               -John 5:39-40

Jesus lets them know their rejection of Him won’t be the final word on the matter. They thought they were judging Him – but who was really the judge?

Look at verse 69 – Hereafter…

Hereafter you will be the ones on trial! The Son of Man will sit (as the exousia) on the right hand of the power of God (dunamis).

Do you know what Jesus is saying to them?

Right now you have me standing before you and you are judging me!

One day you will stand before Me, but I won’t be calling any witnesses like those phony baloney witnesses Annas and Caiphas had!  

I have the authority to exercise the power of God to send you all to Hell.


They blew Him off that day, heard Him confess that He is the Son of God, convicted Him of blasphemy, and got ready to bring Him to Pilate.

They extracted the confession from Jesus. But it was far from over for them. They got what they wanted temporarily, but they were going to lose all that mattered eternally.

Whether it was Caiaphas, Annas, the members of the Sanhedrin, or the soldiers, they thought they had really gotten Jesus.

They thought they were the stars of the show! Nope!

They were all just playing their part, they were just contributing to the background of darkness that would show Jesus to be the brightest star of all!

Something similar happens in the world today. All around us people make decisions that show they do not love Jesus.

They think they are today’s stars as they spout their blasphemy, mistreat God’s people, and shake their fist at Heaven. They are just the darkness that will reveal the stars.

Those who turn many to righteousness (will shine) like the stars forever and ever.              -Daniel 12:3

Ironically, even a God-haters bad choices don’t keep God’s will from being done.

Even the Devil is God’s Devil.      -Martin Luther

What Luther meant was that even though Satan and his demons tempt people to sin and often succeed in the short term, Satan’s on a leash from God – his power is limited and he is shown up all the time by saints glorifying God.

When you think about it, even when it’s daylight the stars are out there – but you can’t tell it until there is the ocean of darkness we call night. Then the stars are evident.

Your school may be a dark place, students, but that’s just going to make it clear how much you stand out as a star for Christ when you love and serve Him.

The same is true for your place of business, your home, your neighborhood.

They didn’t realize who Jesus was, although He was right in front of them like stars in the daytime.

But they were willfully ignorant, and made choices in keeping with their rejection of Jesus.

What they did to Jesus was prophesied that someone would do, but it didn’t have to be them – they could have made different choices and had a different destiny. And so can you!

They could have even made different choices after they blew it –

Judas didn’t, and went to Hell. Peter did, and went to Heaven.

Caiphas and Annas didn’t, and went to Hell. Joseph of Armimathea and Nicodemus did, and went to Heaven!

Acts 6:7 says that later a great number of priests were saved. Some of them had literally been responsible for the death of Jesus – they had blood on their hands – He received them anyway – and He will receive you!

Every person in every generation is responsible for what they do with Jesus! Don’t contribute to how dark it is out there – be a star for Jesus that shines in the midst of the darkness – like He Himself did!

Either way God is going to be glorified – make it because of the way you lived for Jesus rather than in spite of the things you did to Jesus!

Let’s Pray!