The story of the condemnation of Jesus to death is the ultimate example of an inversion of justice. From a simple, legal standpoint, the trials were filled with injustices and breeches of legal protocol. A true criminal insurrectionist is released, while an innocent man is executed.
But the answer to the question of who was responsible for the injustice of Jesus going to the cross has varied facets…
- There is no doubt that Jewish nation is guilty. This passage more than any other demonstrates the complicity of the masses of the people to deny Jesus as the Messiah.
- The religious leadership is totally guilty as well. This outcome was their desired goal. They sought to find charges to level against Jesus in order to bring him before the Roman authorities who had the power of capital punishment.
- The Romans are guilty. Though Rome was known for law and order, there are significant illegalities and injustices in these proceedings.
- Finally, it was Pilate who gave in to the wishes of the mob, in order to maintain peace for the coming Passover holiday.
- But the most guilty party is … you and me. It is our sin that necessitated a Savior. And again, understanding this is what leads us to humble worship and endless gratitude for the great grace extended to us.
The trials of Jesus can be a bit confusing. Putting today’s passages within the context of the six total trials of Jesus and the corresponding passages, it looks like this:
|#||Trial Type||Official(s)||Primary Text|
|3||Religious||The Sanhedrin||Matthew 27:1-2|
Luke 22:63 – The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. 64 They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” 65 And they said many other insulting things to him.
66 At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. 67 “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.”
Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, 68 and if I asked you, you would not answer. 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”
70 They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”
He replied, “You say that I am.”
71 Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”
Luke 23:1 – Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. 2 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 Messiah, a king.”
3 So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.
4 Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”
5 But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”
6 On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. 7 When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.
8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort. 9 He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. 11 Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. 12 That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.
13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. 15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16 Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.”
18 But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” 19 (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)
20 Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.”
23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.