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by Dr. C. L. Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, March 24, 2019

“Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace” (Matthew 26:59-63).

Christ had been arrested that night in the Garden of Gethsemane. The guards brought him to the Sanhedrin, the council of priests and teachers. These leaders wanted to condemn Jesus. They had wicked men ready to lie about Jesus. Their false witnesses said that Jesus claimed He could destroy the temple and build it in three days. Jesus never said that, but these liars accused Him anyway. Christ did not answer them. Then the high priest asked Jesus for an answer. The Bible says, “But Jesus held his peace” (Matthew 26:63). He remained silent. He did not answer.

The false witnesses didn’t care to know what Jesus said. They were what the Bible called “scoffers.” They didn’t want an answer. They didn’t deserve one. And they didn’t get one.

The Bible says that Jesus “knew what was in man” (John 2:25). He knew what each person was thinking. He always responded correctly. To these scoffers, He said nothing at all. To other people, He gave a thoughtful answer. Today I’m going to speak about how Christ answered three groups of people.

I. First, how Jesus answered scoffers.

Some people spoke to Christ but didn’t really want an answer. They were hostile. They were against Jesus. Some of them were trying to “put Him down,” in today’s words. Others wanted to get Him in trouble. I call these people “scoffers.” Listen to what some of them said, and how Christ answered them.

A few days before He was crucified, Jesus was speaking in the Temple. The Bible says, “The chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him” (Luke 20:19). They “watched him, and sent forth spies, which should [pretend to be] just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor” (Luke 20:20). The spies came to Christ and asked Him a question. It wasn’t an honest question. They wanted to catch Jesus in His words. They wanted to get Him in trouble. They said, “Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly: Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no?” (Luke 20:21, 22). “Shall we pay our taxes to Rome, or not?” If Jesus said “no,” they would get him in trouble with Rome. But Christ saw their trick. He said to them, “Shew me a [coin]. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar's. And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's” (Luke 20:24, 25). Christ didn’t fall into the trap. Then He turned the conversation back on them. He said, “[Render] unto God the things which be God’s” (Luke 20:25). He gave them an answer, and then He reminded them of their sin of not loving and knowing God. The Bible says, “They could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace” (Luke 20:26).

Another time, the scribes and Pharisees said, “Master, we would see a sign from thee” (Matthew 12:38). A “sign” means a miracle. They dared Him to do a miracle. They didn’t want to trust Jesus. They weren’t interested. So Jesus did no miracle for them. He said,

“An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:39, 40).

Jesus turned the conversation back on them. He called them “evil and adulterous.” He gave them no sign except the sign of the prophet Jonah. As Jonah was in the belly of the ocean creature and came out, so shall Jesus die, be buried, and rise again. The death, burial and resurrection of Christ was their only sign. Take it or leave it!

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When Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, there were scoffers who shouted at Him. The chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked Him, saying,

“He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God” (Matthew 27:42, 43).

There is no record that Christ answered them. They didn’t deserve an answer, and Christ gave them none.

When Christ was crucified, two thieves were crucified with Him, one on His left and one on His right. One of them “railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us” (Luke 23:39). There is no record that Christ answered that man. He didn’t want to trust Christ. He didn’t want an answer. And he didn’t get one. Christ was firm and direct with the scoffers. He said what they deserved to hear. And now I shall speak of how Christ answered a different kind of person.

II. Second, how Jesus answered the curious.

Some people didn’t speak to Christ as scoffers. They didn’t trust Him, but they were still interested to hear what He said. Some were more open than others. All of them were curious. Listen to how Christ answered them.

The Rich Young Ruler came to Jesus. He was religious. He lived a moral life. He was very proud of himself. He had a conversation with Jesus. He wanted to hear what Christ had to say. He said, “Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18). Jesus reminded him of the Ten Commandments. The young man spoke of how good he was, “All these have I kept from my youth up” (Luke 18:21). Then Christ put his finger on the young man’s sin. He said to him, “Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me” (Luke 18:22). That hit the button. The young man loved his money and wouldn’t let go of it and follow Jesus. The Bible says, “When the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:22). Jesus gave him exactly the answer he needed. He answered the man, confronting him with his sin.

One day Christ went through Samaria, a place religious Jews avoided. He spoke to a Samaritan woman – which the Pharisees would never do – and asked her for water. The woman was surprised that Jesus would talk to her. Jesus said, “If you knew who you were talking to, you could have asked me, and I would have given you the living water of everlasting life, and you would never thirst again.” The woman said, “Sir, give me this water” (John 4:15). Then Jesus gave her the answer she needed to hear. He was the Son of God, and He knew about her before He met her. He said, “Go, call thy husband, and come hither... For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast [the man you are living with now] is not thy husband” (John 4:16, 18). He put his finger on her sin. She became spiritually awakened. She told Jesus “I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ” (John 4:25). Jesus answered her, “I that speak unto thee am he” (John 4:26). She trusted Jesus and was saved! This woman was not hardened and proud like the rich young ruler. She knew she was a sinner. She was open to what Jesus had to say. Christ spoke to her in exactly the right way. He got her interested in the living water of everlasting life. Then He spoke to her of her sin. Finally He led her to Himself.

Now I want to speak of another man. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a rabbi, a ruler of the Jews (John 3:1). Jesus called him a “master of Israel” (John 3:10). The original Greek says that Nicodemus was “the teacher of Israel.” He was the greatest Jewish teacher of that time.

Nicodemus wasn’t ready to trust Jesus. He came to Christ secretly “by night,” so that no one would see. But he was curious, interested to learn more. He praised Jesus as “a teacher come from God” (John 3:2). Jesus gave him an answer he didn’t expect, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). He spoke of a spiritual rebirth and said, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).

Then Christ told him about salvation through His own sacrifice. He said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man [Jesus Himself] be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14, 15). Christ said exactly what the rabbi needed to hear. It must have stayed in Nicodemus’ mind, for after Christ died he and Joseph of Arimathea took the body of Jesus, embalmed it with spices, and wrapped it in linen (John 19:38-40). Though the priests and the Romans hated Jesus, Nicodemus stood with Christ on the very day He was crucified. Tradition tells us he became a Christian.

Jesus always gave everyone the right answer. To the curious, He pointed them further – to their sin and to Himself. But there is a third kind of people, and Christ answered them differently.

III. Third, how Jesus answered convicted sinners.

Jesus was loving and forgiving to convicted sinners who came to Him. The Pharisees condemned such people. But Jesus didn’t. He didn’t tell them what was wrong with them. He hardly said anything. Instead, he forgave them right away! Some of you would be like the Pharisees, surprised and offended that wicked people would be saved so easily, forgiven instantly without any counseling. But that is what Christ did. What Jesus did shows us how He loves and forgives sinners.

One day Jesus went to Jericho. There he met Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was the head of the tax collectors. He gouged money from people to pay taxes to Rome, and kept a lot of it for himself. Zacchaeus was a sinner, hated by all. But he said to Christ, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold” (Luke 19:8). In those few words, Zacchaeus admitted his sin and called Jesus “Lord.” He didn’t say a “sinner’s prayer.” He didn’t say the right words. He was just a convicted sinner who turned to Christ. That was all. The Saviour said, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). That was why He came. And Jesus said, “This day is salvation come to this house” (Luke 19:9). The tax collector was saved.

When Christ was crucified, two thieves were crucified with Him, one on His left hand and the other on His right. One of them railed on Jesus. He said, “If thou be Christ, save thyself and us” (Luke 23:39). There is no record that Jesus answered this man at all.

The other thief rebuked his fellow, saying, “Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss” (Luke 23:40, 41). He admitted that he was a sinner and deserved punishment, while Jesus had done nothing wrong. The man was convicted of his sin. Then he said to Christ, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom” (Luke 23:42).

This thief was not religious like the Pharisees. He did not go to synagogue. He knew very little of the Bible. He was a thief – not one of the “good” people. He didn’t know how to pray or what to say. So he simply said, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”

In his heart he was a convicted sinner. He knew he was wicked. He turned to Christ and said those few words, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” He didn’t say a “sinner’s prayer.” His words weren’t the “right words.” He just said what he said. But “the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus didn’t condemn the thief for his sin. He didn’t examine his words. He didn’t demand anything from the man. Instead He said, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). The thief was saved then and there!

One day Christ was invited to eat in the house of a Pharisee. A woman came in. She was a “sinner” (Luke 7:37) and she knew it. She “stood at [Jesus’] feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with...ointment” (Luke 7:38). She didn’t ask Jesus anything. She didn’t speak to Him at all. She was unworthy. She brought her tears, her kisses, and her ointment to Jesus’ feet.

Jesus saved her then and there. She didn’t say anything. Her actions spoke. Christ didn’t ask her anything. He didn’t tell her what to do. He didn’t talk about her sin. He didn’t try to find out what she believed. He didn’t counsel her at all. He only said to her, “Thy sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48). Jesus forgave her instantly!

Dr. Hymers and I have seen convicted sinners come to speak with us. We hardly said anything to them. They trusted Jesus then and there, and they were saved forever.

I ask you, Where do you stand with Jesus this morning? I hope you’re not a scoffer. Some of you are curious. You wonder what I’ll say to you, or what you can learn. If you come in curiosity you will never find Christ no matter how hard you try, no matter how much you learn. But if you are a convicted sinner He will find you right away! Trust Christ and He will wash your sin away in His Blood. He will save you in a second. If you would like to speak with me about trusting Jesus, please come and sit in the first two rows. Amen.

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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Jack Ngann:
“What Will You Do With Jesus?” (by A. B. Simpson, 1843-1919).



by Dr. C. L. Cagan

“Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace” (Matthew 26:59-63).

(John 2:25)

I.    First, how Jesus answered scoffers, Luke 20:19-22; 24-26;
Matthew 12:38-40; 27:42, 43; Luke 23:39.

II.   Second, how Jesus answered the curious, Luke 18:18, 21, 22;
Matthew 19:22; John 4:15, 16, 18, 25, 26; John 3:1, 10;
John 3:2, 3, 7, 14, 15; 19:38-40.

III.  Third, how Jesus answered convicted sinners, Luke 19:8, 10, 9;
Luke 23:39-43; 19:10; 7:37, 38, 48.