The trials and subsequent condemnation of Jesus which led to His crucifixion represent the worst kind of judicial miscarriage in all of human history. We read even in our day of people who have been falsely accused and imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. Our hearts break when we hear that especially if such persons end up with long jail sentences. We empathize with them when we think of all those “wasted” years in prison – in seclusion – away from family, relatives and friends. Such persons are unable to freely take part and give to society as would be the case under normal circumstances. It’s something that none of us would want to wish on anyone and certainly not on ourselves.
Jesus had two trials before His crucifixion. One was a religious (Jewish) trial and the other was a political (Roman) trial. But both of these trials failed to deliver justice in Jesus’ case. With respect to the Jewish trial, many things happened that were totally out of the norm because the Jewish leaders were bent on getting rid of Jesus – at any cost. There were at least ten things that were wrong and therefore illegal with regards to Jesus’ trial before the Jewish leaders:
- His Arrest: Jesus’ arrest was illegal because He was arrested without a charge being made against Him. Furthermore, His arrest was organized by the very people who were to sit as judges in his trial – and in this way the judges effectively became accomplices to the arrest and thus biased.
- The Time of the Trial: Jesus’ trial was held at night and that was illegal too. Such trials were to be held during the day.
- The Venue of the Trial: The trial took place at Caiaphas’ home and that was illegal. The trial should have been held at a public law court.
- The Commencement of the Trial: The trial started and still no charges had been brought against Jesus. That too was illegal.
- Conflicting Witnesses: The witness who came forward to testify against Jesus were not consistent in their story and so legally, there was no case. Jesus should have been released and the false witness should have been punished for perjury.
- The Judge was Partial: In the trial, the judge became a witness – thus, he was not objective in his judgment.
- The Judge Failed in His Duty: The judge asked Jesus a leading question and then condemned Him on the basis of His own confession which is illegal. That was insufficient ground for condemning Jesus legally.
- No Witnesses for Jesus were Presented: While the judge and the prosecutors paraded witnesses against Jesus, none were brought forward to witness for Him. This would have allowed the judge to examine Jesus’ claims about Himself in a more balanced way. But the judge and the prosecution weren’t interested in that.
- The Judge Couldn’t Handle the Truth: When Jesus spoke the truth about Himself, they wouldn’t believe Him. They condemned Him for speaking the truth.
- The Conclusion of the Trial: The trial was concluded hastily. They expedited the trial and hence the sentence. That was illegal. No trial requiring a death sentence was concluded in one day, but Jesus’ was. The judge and prosecutors organized the execution of Jesus the same day without allowing the normal time required for a legal appeal to be made against the sentence by the defendant if necessary. But everything was done in haste because the Jewish leaders were bent on getting rid of Jesus at all cost.
And so, they unjustly condemned Jesus to death and led Him away – all alone. No one cared about Him. They cut His life short and killed Him for a crime He did not commit. He had a clean record all His life. He had done nothing wrong. He robed no one and He cheated no one. But alas, He died and was buried like a criminal – and yet He was put in a rich man’s grave. On the one hand, all this happened because the LORD had willed it. From the foundation of the world, He had planned that He would kill His own Son and put Him through such grief for the sins of His people. On the other hand, Jesus willingly offered His own life as an offering for sin and thus purchase a people for God. This was His joy. While the Jewish leaders were determined to get rid of Jesus, He was determined to fulfill His Father’s will and plan which He had before the foundation of the world.
You see at the end of the day, the Jewish leaders and all those who condemned Jesus to death (especially Pilate), were only serving God’s purposes. However, the Lord will hold them responsible because they sinned gravely by condemning an innocent Man. When Judgment Day comes, their sin will be exposed and they will be judged accordingly – and Jesus will be their Judge. But more importantly, their verdict concerning Jesus will be reversed. In fact, three days after they declared Jesus guilty and deserving death, God the Father, reversed their verdict by raising Jesus from the dead, thus declaring Him innocent. To every Christian, this is a remarkable truth that changes everything! The resurrection of Jesus settles the matter completely – and is therefore a source of great joy and hope for everyone who believes in Him. HALLELUJAH! WHAT A SAVIOR!
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood;
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
(Philip P. Bliss – 1875)