The Illegal Trial Of Jesus Christ
Changing The False Accusations
Ms Suzy, Jurist in this court room:
When Jesus was forcibly hailed before the Sanhedrin for "trial," we note that there had not been any charges preferred against Him. Therefore, until some kind of a criminal offense had been first made against Him, He was unlawfully required to be there. It would be just as absurd a proceeding as if a group of soldiers and citizens had captured an individual and then brought him before a criminal court to be tried when no compliant of any kind had been registered with the court!
The high priest and the scribes engaged in a brief conference, checking to determine if their "false witnesses" had been notified to be before the court, to testify against Jesus. Having determined that they were present, Caiaphas called upon them to make their accusations. Here is what then happened:
"At last come two false witnesses, and said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the Temple of God, and build it in three days."
Such a statement as that never fell from the lips of the Christ! Here are His exact words, on that subject, as related by John:
"Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
These two characters, in testifying against the Master, had purposely, corruptly and deliberately perverted the true language of Jesus in order to make it appear that He had actually threatened to do physical violence to the Temple of God. Such might be expected to come from those whom the high priest himself had denominated as false "witnesses!"
Jesus was, of course, referring to His Own Body as the "temple" which they had boasted of soon destroying. He was merely saying that, in such an event, He would raise His Body in three days. John gives the same explanation:
"He spake of the temple as His Body."
Regardless of the efforts to distort the words of the Christ, we find that the two witnesses were not in agreement as to their attempts to quote what each claimed to have heard Jesus say. And so, the testimony broke down, and the false charges had to be abandoned.
Up until this time Jesus had not spoken a single word. He gave evidence of His great contempt by His majestic silence! Indeed, even the hot~headed raging of the high priest failed to extract a single expression from the mouth of their prisoner. They were filled with consternation. How, they reasoned, would they be able to make Him talk. Then, like a flash, a clever thought was born in the warped brain of Caiaphas. He rushed from his seat, toward the body of Jesus, and in a loud and angry tone, exclaimed:
"I adjure Thee, by the Living God, tell us, art Thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?"
That was the one question which Jesus would answer, readily, even though it would of necessity, be the affirmation of His Divinity- and His condemnation- and death. So, without a moment’s hesitation, and in a clear and distinct tone, the Master replied:
"I Am, And ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of Heaven."
Not only did He tell them that He was indeed the Son of the Blessed, but that, after they had taken His life- as He well knew they would- they would see Him, after the resurrection, being lifted upon clouds into Heaven where He would be seated at the right hand of His Father, God Almighty!
The admission of this great truth greatly intensified the anger of the high priest, and he began tearing his robe, while stating to the other members of the Sanhedrin: "What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy! What think ye?"
Being of one accord, they replied: "He is guilty to death!" What a trial! What a spectacle to behold! What a scene in the Jewish court, dedicated to the scared cause of liberty and equality and justice! What an indictment could be made against such rude, preposterous outbursts of hatred and cowardly conduct! There we see the presiding officer of the high court of the Jews personally making the accusation of "blasphemy," and then concluding himself that the court had no need for witnesses!
What was it the members of the court heard? Only the expression of truth- an admission by the Christ that He was the Son of God! And for having spoken the truth, they pronounced, unlawfully, the penalty of death! They knew that they had no such authority, for their Roman conquerors had stripped them of that power, years before.
They all condemned Jesus to be worthy of death! Because, as they said, He was guilty of blasphemy! Was the Christ guilty of blasphemy? An absurd inquiry! Nowhere could there be found any authority, anywhere, to make what Jesus had said the basis for such an accusation.
"Blasphemy" consists of cursing God. We have the benefit of a Biblical definition of that word, as found in the Revelations of John:
"And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacles, and them that dwell in Heaven."
The accusation of the high priest was the utterance of a frenzied and prejudiced mind, amounting to nothing more than an illiterate conclusion!
Now we observe them taking the tired and sleepy Christ, before the break of day, to the palace of Pilate, the Roman Governor. Their purpose in doing this was to get Pilate to quickly and summarily approve of the supreme penalty that they had unlawfully imposed upon Jesus. They were hoping for an informal hearing, that they might begin their execution. But the Roman Governor was not only impatient but without affection for the Jews and their numerous religious controversies. He entertained no love for them whatever, and did not wish to be bothered with their many bickerings and disputes which, he felt, they themselves should settle. As soon as Pilate learned of their presence at the palace, he met them at the entrance gate, and said:
"What accusations bring ye against this Man?"
It was then that they replied with an air of snobbery and presumption:
"If He were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up to thee."
Pilate told them to "take Him and judge Him according to your law."
Quickly realizing that they could not, lawfully, condemn one to die by the judgement of the Jewish courts, and doubting that Pilate would approve of their finding Him guilty of blasphemy, they made up an entirely new charge-without a moment’s notice to the prisoner or anyone:
"And they began to accuse Him, saying, we found this fellow perverting the Nation, and forbidding the giving of tribute to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ a King."
Jesus remained silent before the Governor of Rome. Well did he know that the charge of having "perverted the Nation and forbidding the giving of tribute to Caesar" was false to the very core. Therefore, Pilate marveled greatly that the Christ said not a word! Then Pilate took Jesus into the judgement hall, and said unto Him: "Art Thou the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered him:
"Sayest thou this thing thyself, or did others tell it thee of Me?"
Pilate then wanted to know what Jesus had done. And He answered:
"My kingdom is not of this world: If My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now is My kingdom not from hence."
Pilate soon became thoroughly convinced that Jesus had done no wrong; that the accusations made against Him were without foundation in fact, and he brought the Christ back to the high priest and his followers, and made this solem announcement:
"I find in Him no fault at all!"
That was a verdict of acquittal-a judgement of the Roman Governor that should have effected the release of the Prisoner. And it was the one verdict that fell hard upon the ears of the bewildered enemies of the Master. Having heard it, they seemed stunned and in a quandary. Then they came fourth with an entirely different accusation-this was the third-when they told Pilate this:
"He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place!"
That last charge, while entirely false, was their clever way of telling Pilate that Jesus was from Galilee. Being a Galilean He would have to be tried before Herod, king of Judea. So, Pilate sent Him to Herod, who was in Jerusalem at this time.
It was noteworthy that there was a decided departure from the original charge lodged against Jesus before the Sanhedrin. For the Sanhedrin found Him guilty of "blasphemy." But when He was hailed before Pilate, they changed the charge to that of treason, and then to sedition. The Christ was guilty of neither.
Let us note what took place before King Herod, the reprobate:
"And when Herod saw Jesus he was exceedingly glad: for he was desirous to see Him for a long Season, because he had heard many things of Him: and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by Him."
Herod the murderer of John the Baptist, was still conscious of his wrongdoing in that respect, and was certainly unwilling to have his official acts, regarding the Christ, reported to his political boss, the Emperor of Rome.
Instead, then, of conducting what might be considered a serious and dignified examination of the complaints made by the Jews, Herod concluded, in his semi-drunken condition, to make sport of the Prisoner, in the hope of amusement for himself and the members of his court.
"Then he questioned Him in many words; but He answered him nothing."
Jesus was well acquainted with the character and reputation of this unfit king, Herod, who had, shortly before, sent a messenger to the Christ threatening to have Him killed, unless He left the country. But Jesus stood still there like a brave soldier, and answered him nothing!
And that same group of His enemies stood by, vehemently accusing Jesus before the King. Through it all, the Master maintained a majestic silence, as if ignoring the proceedings completely. It is highly probable that Jesus, being well versed in the laws of that day and time, felt that Herod had no right to question Him at all.
"And Herod, with his men of war, set Jesus at nought, and mocked Him, and arrayed Him in a purple robe and sent Him back to Pilate."
Once more we see the Christ standing before Pilate. By now Jesus was enveloped in fatigue, from loss of sleep and lack of food and rest. Pilate appears irritated. He frankly tells the high priest and the others there that they have done a vain thing. Here are the words, on that occasion:
"Ye have brought this Man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined Him before you, have found no fault in this Man touching those things whereof ye accuse Him: No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto Him. I will, therefore, chastise Him, and release Him."
What had Pilate just said? Once more, for the second time, he found Jesus guilty of no wrong-and reminded the mob that Herod had done nothing to Jesus. But, said Pilate, before I release Him, I will chastise Him! Since Pilate had said that Jesus was innocent of those charges made against Him, then for what earthy reason should the Christ be "chastised"? It was nothing less then a cowardly subterfuge. He thought that if Jesus were scourged, that would pacify the demands of those evil-hearted demons. But they were greatly dissatisfied with Pilate’s decision, and showed their anger in no uncertain manner.
Still seeking some way to get from under the burden of the situation, and, at the same time, trusting that he might appease the high priest and his followers, Pilate then proposed that, since it was the custom, during the Passover Feast, to release any prisoner they desired, he said to them:
"Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? For he knew that for envy they had delivered Him."
Here was Pilate placing the self-confessed seditionist and murder beside the sinless Christ, and asking that wild mob which of the two they preferred to be released! Pilate had hopes, though faint, that they might have a change of heart. But not that crowd, for murder filled their hearts, as they remained determined to take the life of Christ!
What a compromise to offer-what a proposal to be made by the Roman Governor to a mob of angry Jews!
"But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus."
Here,again, we see the scheming Annas and his common son-in-law, Caiaphas, urging the mob to call for the release of Barabbas. Release Barabbas-so that they might destroy Jesus! What a wild scene! What a disgraceful picture!
"The Governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you!"
They said "Barabbas!"
Pilate, somewhat exasperated and impatient, said unto them:
"What shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ?"
Why, oh, why, ask such a question! What had Jesus done? Pilate had repeatedly said he was not guilty of any wrongdoing. What he should have done with Jesus was to release Him. But he was afraid to do so, afraid of that band of Jews whose continued anger he sought to avoid.
"They all said unto Him, Let Him be crucified!"
Pilate ignored the plea of his wife to "have nothing to do with that just Man." He called Jesus back into the inner court of the temple, to question Him further, but Jesus remained silent, as before. Then Pilate, for the third time, said he found no wrong in Jesus. Then the Jews cried out:
"Away with Him, Away with Him, crucify Him!"
Yes, it must be admitted that while Pilate sought several times to release Jesus, he just didn’t have the courage of his convictions. He was, truly, a coward!
Then Pilate said to them:
"Shall I crucify your king?"
The mob, quick to respond, said "We have no king but Caesar."
Sensing that Pilate feared them, because of his dread that they might report him to the Emperor, placing his job in jeopardy, they hurled the defiant threat toward Pilate:
"If thou let this Man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend; whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar."
That did it! Those last remarks placed the pallid flag of fear into the face of Pilate, and he gave in to the demands of evil men. He deliberately ignored all sense of justice and sacrificed his self-respect to quite the howls of a raging mob!
"Then released he Barabbas unto them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the Governor took Jesus unto the common hall, and gathered unto Him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped Him, and put on a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him, and mocked Him, saying: Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon Him, and took the reed, and smote Him on the head. And after that they had mocked Him, they took the robe of from Him, and put His own raiment on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him."
Therefore, with no friend near who was willing to speak a single good word in His behalf; no friend there to protect Him in His legal rights, Jesus was led away by the fiendish and cruel mob, in preparation for the great ordeal-death, alone, on Calvary’s cross!
This final word:
The record reflects that, through it all, the Son of God never once made a single murmur or compliant over the many insults heaped upon Him. No, not even when they crushed the crown of thorns so deeply into His precious brow that His eyes became filled with blood! Yes, He was brave enough to bear it, alone, in the true spirit of voluntary submission. He knew that He was then carrying out the will of His Heavenly Father, and fulfilling the prophecies without neither counting the cost nor complaining of the great pain! And the true measure of that pain and that anguish, which He silently bore, for the sins of mankind, is far, very far, beyond the pale of human imagination!