Wednesday, March 27, 2024

The Trial of Jesus



While studying earlier this week I ran back across aquote from the 3rd President of the United States who was also the person primarily responsible for the drafting of the 1776 Declaration of Independence. He was also instrumental in the framing of the Constitution of the US and the Bill or Rights. I thought it was worth passing on without further comment.


The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. Thomas Jefferson


The western Church will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ this coming Sunday. And we all know that before there could be a resurrection, there had to be a death. The death of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary provided the perfect sacrifice for all sin forever.


The political leadership of the day however, considered Jesus a trophy and His death as a triumph. They felt like the crucifixion was a testimony to their masterful genius and evidence that they had power and that they were in charge … and therefore right. 


I’ve gone over and over the proceedings of the court and the strategies of the state in prosecuting the trial of Jesus. The trumped up charges, the bought and paid for false witnesses, the hearsay and the circumstantial evidence that was presented, the motions to dismiss, the willingness of the Roman court to pardon due to lack of evidence, the arguments of the state for the court to levy excessive punishment, and the threat of appeal if the state did not get the sentence they requested … all of these things were overwhelming and the state left no time for appeal.


Finally the prosecution stepped it up and even paid influencers, who were the social media of the day, to incite public opinion against Jesus and in favor of a criminal. The public cry became so inflamed with “Crucify Jesus” and “release Barabbas” that the highest court in the land, in efforts to keep the peace and to not be blamed for the riots which would surely result in an acquittal of Jesus, caved to the state’s demands and sentenced Jesus to death.


That’s all the state of Israel wanted. They didn’t want incarceration, they didn’t want a public flogging, they didn’t want Jesus to be exiled or kept out of Jerusalem … they wanted Him dead. 


It’s difficult to imagine the leaders of a country being that filled with hatred. They abandoned their integrity in efforts to keep someone who was helping the common man from becoming more popular that they were.


Let’s read a portion of the public record to see what Jesus endured in the courts of His own country.


Matthew 26

59  Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death,

60  but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses came forward

61  and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’ ”

62  And the high priest arose and said to Him, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?”


When they could not achieve the verdict they wanted, the Sanhedrin Court, which was the state court, bumped the case up to a higher court. Pilate represented the Roman Federal Law which governed the state at that time accepted the case and questioned Jesus.


Luke 23

13 ¶  Then Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people,

14  said to them, “You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him;

15  “no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him.

16  “I will therefore chastise Him and release Him

The Chief Prosecutor argued before Pilate in Pilate’s chamber that the sentence was not in keeping with the lower court’s findings or in compliance with the laws of the state. Pilate still wanted to acquit or at least reduce the sentence but …


Luke 23

20  Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them.

21  But they shouted, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”

22  Then he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go.”

23  But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed.

24  So Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested.

25  And he released to them the one they requested, who for rebellion and murder had been thrown into prison; but he delivered Jesus to their will.


We know the rest of the story, and we will hear more about it this Sunday.


Our Take-Aways from the message this evening are twofold:


1. Hatred will ensure no one gets a fair hearing.
a. Not Jeremiah (He spoke concerning the assembly of treacherous men)
b. Not David (Wrongfully accused at every turn)
c. Not Jesus
i. These important men in the days of Jesus, the most important men in all of Israel, sat up late into the night waiting together while plotting and hoping Judas would deliver Jesus into their hands.
ii. They denied themselves and their assembly sleep, catering to their malice for this man from Nazareth.
iii. Jealousy, envy, and anger drove them mad with a blind rage.
iv. They hired men to fabricate lies and provide false testimony twisting the words Jesus spoke to use as evidence against Him.
v. They intimidated every witness that would have testified in Jesus’ defense. 
vi. They laid the plot in secret, (it’s called conspiracy to commit murder), provided the witnesses, fabricated the evidence, and prosecuted the trial … all brought before a biased judge who already knew the verdict he was duty-bound to render before the trial even began.
vii. And on appeal, when the two higher courts would have acquitted and released Jesus, the political party in power intimidated the judges and demanded their verdict be upheld. 
viii. They incited public protests and made personal threats to ensure what they called the will of the people.


I am so glad nothing like this could ever happen in our day … at least not in America. Hatred will ensure no one gets fair hearing.


Jesus walked the earth in a difficult day. When the House of God can be made into a den of thieves, how much more should we expect the courtroom to be filled with evil and wicked people. Where there is no respect for God, there can be no respect for others.


Hatred is the worst motivation known to man. Don’t allow hate to rule your life, make your decisions, or determine your truth. Not your hate nor the hatred of someone else you admire or feel sorry for. If you allow hate to rule your life, it will ruin your life.


2. What do you do when the people you’re trying to help are killing you?


Luke 23:34  Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” …


a. Jesus died for the very ones who killed Him.
b. Sometimes love demands we fix something we did not break.
c. Jesus was treated with such injustice.
i. Of course He was Messiah, Son of God and Savior of the World … but He was also a good man.
ii. I don’t even know why He wanted to save us. 
iii. Certainly not everyone, but some of the people He loved were mean and ugly to Him.


The prophet Isaiah warned Him … and He in turn has warned us. We all have a higher calling than self. Many who have been called to a life of service have suffered at the hands of those they wanted to help.


Isaiah 53:5  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.


The seeds of the Gospel have always been watered by the blood of the martyrs. 


What do you do when the people you are trying to help are killing you? 

• Love them.
• Forgive them.
• And do the best you can.
• Know when enough is enough.


Jesus didn’t hurt those who hurt Him, but neither did He hang around to continue enduring the abuse. He knew when enough was enough.


Hatred will ensure no one gets a fair hearing.


When people you are trying to help are trying to hurt you, love them; forgive them; do the best you can; and realize when enough is simply enough. It’s not ok to hate people but it is ok to excuse yourself from continued abuse. 


And for goodness sake – Don’t be the abuser!