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How could they put Jesus on trial??

We left Jesus standing before the Sanhedrin, with Caiaphas saying, 'We don't need any more witnesses; we heard all we need to hear,' planning to send Jesus to Pilate, governor of Judah.

There is no doubt that this was the most famous and the most important trial in all of history, so let’s take a look as Jesus begins his civil trial.

They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness, the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and asked, "What charges are you bringing against this man?"

"If he were not a criminal," they replied, "we would not have handed him over to you."  And they began to accuse him, saying, "We have found this man subverting our nation.  He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king."  Pilate said,  "Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law."

"But we have no right to execute anyone," the Jews objected.  This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled.

The Passover celebration was in full swing, and Jerusalem was packed to nearly ten times her normal population; Pilate was in town to keep watch over things.  He was surprised to hear that the Jews were insisting on a meeting with him because they would certainly not enter a Roman building, and then be found ceremonially unclean for Passover.  But as he went out, he saw them . . . seventy-plus Jewish elders, surrounding a lone shackled prisoner, whose face was swollen and streaked with dried blood.

Pilate summoned Jesus and asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?"

"Is that your own idea, " Jesus asked, "or did others talk to you about me?"

"Am I a Jew?" Pilate replied.  "It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me.  What is it you have done?"

Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world.  If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews.  But now my kingdom is from another place."

"You are a king, then!" said Pilate.

Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king.  In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."

"What is truth?" Pilate asked.  With this he went out again to the Jews and said, "I find no basis for a charge against him.  

When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, "Don't you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?" But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge--to the great amazement of the governor.

This is Jesus' fourth trial, effectively; three religious, one civil.  Jesus spoke little. And some of what he says confuses me . . . was he trying to be difficult, or are his comments beyond my understanding?  Clearly, in this first exchange with Pilate, TRUTH is on the line.   Is Jesus the king of the Jews? Yes, and so much more!  Yet his kingdom was not of this world, for if it were, he would not have been arrested or brutalized, or . . . or. . .

But in this face-to-face meeting, Pilate is given the opportunity to choose what he believes to be the truth--and to follow that way.  Inside himself, Pilate wants to choose for Jesus, though he is conflicted by Roman politics; and from without, by these worked-up Jews demanding he do something with this man!   He can see the Man is not guilty of any crime, and is not a threat to Rome--yet, what is he to do?  But they kept on insisting, saying, "He stirs up the people, teaching all over Judea, starting from Galilee even as far as this place." (Luke 23.5)  Galilee? Did someone say Galilee? Jesus was from Galilee? Well, then that was Pilate's answer--Herod was the tetrarch of Galilee, and was also in Jerusalem for the Passover.  Pilate would pass the buck, and hand Jesus and all the high-powered Jews over to Herod Antipas to handle.

PILATE SENDS JESUS TO HEROD, who is also in Jerusalem at that time.  Herod Antipas is the son of Herod the Great, and bears many similarities to his father.  While he has built the capital city of Tiberius and many impressive buildings, he tears down his own life through immoral living.  He is a womanizer and a drunk, kinda’ like what John Belushi immortalized in his Animal House toga, though Antipas donned a royal white robe fringed in gold.  His frivolous parties are infamous; in fact, it is at one of his parties, where he is so taken with his step-daughter's dancing, that he offers her anything, up to half of his kingdom.  She asks for the head of John the Baptist on a platter, which he promptly delivers. Did I mention he was cruel?

How do you feel about this man who would decide Jesus’ fate?

Ponder that.



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