Gospel of John: Chapter 18, The Trial of Jesus Christ

The Trial of Jesus Christ

The trial of Jesus Christ would go through six phases.  Three were religious and the three were civil. Any attorney with knowledge of the law and customs would tell you this trial was illegal, unjust and included false witnesses, torture of the prisoner and flagrant bias.

THE RELIGIOUS TRIAL

First appearance was before Annas, the former high priest and father-in-law of then current high priest, Caiaphas.  Jesus’ appearance before Annas was a private interrogation. It was what we would call a “fishing expedition” with the purpose to find something illegal on which to build a case.  Keep in mind, the Jews executed by stoning. The Romans executed by crucifixion on the cross.  It was prophesied Jesus would be crucified on a cross.

Annas questions Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. He wanted to know how many followers Jesus had.  The Jews wanted the Roman government to execute Jesus because they feared those who loved Jesus would rebel against them. Annas also wanted to know what Jesus’ doctrine was. What was He teaching? Was He undermining their teaching? Jesus answer is: “I have spoken openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues or in the temple, where all Jews come together. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. “

The reaction of the temple guard was to strike Jesus in the face. We know the soldiers repeatedly struck Jesus in the face; plucked His beard and spit in the face of their Creator. Jesus states His rights: “If I have said something wrong, testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me.”  Annas then sends Jesus to Caiaphas.

Now we know from the other Gospels, Caiaphas questioned Jesus. Then called a hasty meeting of the Sanhedrin to officially try Jesus. In Matthew 26: 63- 68 records a key part of the trial and testimony.  “The high priest said to Him: “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.  Yes it is as you say, Jesus replied. But I say to all of you: in the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy!” They agreed Jesus deserved death. This concluded the three phases of the religious trial.

THE CIVIL TRIAL.

The Jews then lead Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor, Pilate. Notice how observant these religious leaders were of the rituals of their religion. This very day at sunset, they would observe the Passover. They had cleansed their homes of leaven already. They were ceremonially clean. They would sacrifice their Passover lambs at sunset. Therefore they would not enter the palace of the Gentiles and thus become unclean. How ironic, their

prisoner, the Lord Jesus was the Passover Lamb of God. What spiritual blindness of those who knew the story of Abraham, and the Law of Moses, but had a veil over their hearts and could not see the Truth which stood before them.  Jesus had wept over these very people when He entered Jerusalem for the last time and lamented:  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets.  How I longed to gather you as a mother hen would her chicks.”

Pilate came out to them asked the first of a series of questions and he will have to go outside the Praetorium to meet with them, and then back inside to question the prisoner, this man known as Jesus. This exchange will carry us John 18: 29 through 19: 16 when Pilate reluctantly turns Jesus over to be crucified and washed his hands of the whole affair.   Pilate had been warned by his wife to not have anything to do with this man, Jesus, for He had appeared to her in a dream.

Outside the palace, Pilate asked the Jews:  “what charges are you bringing against this man?” The Jews answer, “If this man was not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” To which they replied, “But we have no right to execute anyone.”  What?  They stoned people all the time. They were fearful if they executed Jesus, his followers would seek vengeance on them. But actually what is taking place is the fulfillment of prophecy which said; Jesus would be crucified on a cross. Remember in John 3, Jesus told Nicodemus, he must be lifted up as the brass serpent was lifted up in desert.

Inside the palace, Pilate now asks Jesus:  “Are you king of the Jews?” Pilate must have asked this question with a sense of astonishment, that this man could possibly be a king. He was poor carpenter from Nazareth, an itinerant rabbi. There was nothing about him which suggested royalty. Pilate had seen royalty and power and wealth and this man had none of these qualities. Jesus asks Pilate a question: “is this your own idea? (Are you speaking for yourself? NKJV) or did someone else tell you this concerning me? “See how Jesus asks questions to get people to probe their motivations?  When Jesus asks questions it is not to gain information, it is to get the one questioned to think about his/her situation. (Adam and Eve, Hagar, Jacob)   Even now He was willing to share the truth with Pilate if Pilate had an interest in knowing the truth, spiritual truths.

Pilate replies:  “Am I a Jew?  It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”  I can hear the sarcasm in Pilate’s reply. He was a proud Roman, a leader. A person who was in a position of power and influence and considered those who were not Romans as inferior to him. The Jewish people were just conquered people who were weak and easily defeated.  Pilate is no fool however. He may realize Caiaphas is trying to use him and the Roman government to do their dirty work. Besides this while he was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him the message not to have anything to do with Jesus for he was innocent and had appeared to her in a dream.

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 who sides with the truth hears My voice.”  He was “born” indicates his humanity. The statement ‘came into the world’ means that He existed before his birth in Bethlehem.  Jesus not only told Pilate his origin, but also Jesus explained His ministry: to bear witness to the truth. Rome was a kingdom ruled by power and military might. The sword was their weapon. The truth of God’s Word, was our Lord’s weapon and our weapon today- the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.

Pilate then asks a rhetorical question, a philosophical one which is being asked today, “What is truth?”  But Pilate asks as he was withdrawing from Jesus’ presence to go back outside to address the Jewish leaders.   Pilate then goes back outside to tell the Jewish leaders, I find not fault in this man. In Matthew’s account we read: they replied, “He is stirring up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all this way.”  On hearing Jesus was from Galilee, Pilate saw a way out. He would send him to Herod, for Galilee was his jurisdiction. Problem solved.  Herod and his soldiers mocked Jesus and dressed him in a royal robe, then sent him back to Pilate.  Pilate says to the Jewish leaders, see, Herod agrees there is no basis for charges against him. I will punish him and then release Him. For it was a custom at Passover for the Roman governor to release one prisoner. Do you want me to release the king of the Jews? asked Pilate. They shouted back, no not him. Give us Barabbas.

THE PUNISHMENT

There are guidelines in today’s courts which define the parameters of punishment for crimes. These vary from state to state and can include: fines, imprisonment for a determined number of years, loss of certain rights, probation, and in some states, death.  Pilate, the judge in this trial has repeated several times the innocence of Jesus. Then why did he not set Him free? Instead he offers to release a prisoner based on a custom of granting the release of one prisoner at Passover.  This backfired as they now call out for the release of Barabbas.  It is as if, the Jewish leaders were one step ahead of Pilate.

Pilate then tries another tactic: sympathy. Pilate ordered Jesus to be scourged. A scourging could often result in death. The prisoner would be stripped naked. He would then be bound to a post and beaten with a leather whip, knotted and weighted with pieces of bone and metal which cut through the flesh.  Jesus had been without sleep, beaten by the soldiers and his face covered with spittle was now swollen, bruised and bleeding where they had plucked his beard. He was beaten and his back was opened up from the scourging which burst open the skin and tore his flesh until it hung in shreds. Then the filthy robe was placed on his back. A crown of thorns was fashioned and pressed down on his head. Remember thorns are a symbol the curse going back to the Garden of Eden in Genesis. It was also the thorns and briars which trappedthe ram in the thicket to proved Abraham a sacrifice instead of Isaac.   Once again Pilate brings Jesus out before the crowd, hoping the sight of his severe punishment would satisfy their desire for punishment. But it would not. Crucify Him, they cried.

TRUTH ON TRIAL

The rhetorical question which Pilate asked is still relevant today.  Truth is certainly on trial today in our society and culture.  Send your kids to college and they will be challenged about everything their parents and grandparents had taught them about truth. Depending on how well they have been grounded in the truth will determine what happens to their belief system. Can they define the truth? Can they defend the truth?  Is truth relative that is subjective?  Is truth based on cultural consensus as a process of collective judgment?  The outcry of our culture today is ‘truth is relative.’ Who are you to judge my truth? My morals? My lifestyle? Tolerance is the word of the day.  Today man believes life’s most sublime good it to be happy and the means justify the ends. If I disagree with his choices I am intolerant. I will not be allowed to speak with such hateful speech. Truth based on God’s Word is forbidden in the public arena and is considered intolerant of other’s feelings, faith and belief system.

Relative truth creates relative morality. Which in turn creates a very challenging atmosphere for a believer in the 21st century.  What is the answer to this question: What is truth?

The great philosophical question of all time is: “How did all of this (creation, the universe, human life) get here?  That there is ‘something out there’ is unmistakable, unavoidable reality and fact we cannot dismiss. It is beyond anything we human beings can create on our own or explain or comprehend. It is detailed, complex and comes in an amazing variety.   Genesis tells us a higher being of infinite wisdom and power did this. Psalm 19 says “the heavens declare the glory of God.  And the skies proclaim His handiwork. Day after day they pour forth His speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where His voice is not heard.” It is impossible that is simply started of its own accord. Just as impossible that a Swiss watch will come together when you toss a thousand parts in the clothes dryer and out comes a perfectly made Swiss watch.  So reluctantly non-believing scientists admit there was a “big bang.”  Knowing this means there had to be a “Big Banger” (no disrespect Heavenly Father.)

Today in the 21st century we live in the Age of Acceleration where knowledge is doubling every 18 months.  Technology has given us things we did not know we needed that now we cannot live without.  The Tower of Babel has been rebuilt. Google processes 60,000 search requests per second, 24-7.  That is over 2 trillion per year. Technology was proclaimed as the genie which had been released from the magic lamp of our computers. Information was the new god of culture redefining everything. But there was not warning on the label it was harmful to our health of our very souls, our minds, will and emotions.

Truth, absolute truth is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory and being of God Almighty, Creator of all things. Truth is theological and based on the Word of God which definesright and wrong. This truth does not change for God does not change. Any other definition of truth will end in disaster.

The truths about creation are self-evident. Knowledge of the Creator is inborn in every human being. God’s truth defines what is right and wrong. It defines righteousness. Man suppresses the truth with his unrighteousness and the result is a culture which is rotting on the vine of immorality and unrighteousness. God’s Word says: ‘Even as they do not like to retain knowledge of God, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting.” (Romans 1) Do you see what is has produced? Abortion as a right; legalized gambling, prostitution, pornography, drugs, same-sex marriage, and rebellion. Chaos reigns as everyone does what is right in their own eyes, because they do not believe the Word of God is absolute truth and therefore morality is relative. “This is the verdict, light has come into the world, but man preferred darkness because their deeds were evil.” (John 3)

If one tries to define truth without the Word of God, life is meaningless. It is meaningless because they do not know absolute truth. The intellectual agnostic or atheist says there is not enough evidence. It is not the absence of evidence that is the problem, but the suppression of evidence. They suppress the truth to justify their unrighteousness.  (Dr. Frances Collins, author of the “Language of God.”  Head of the Human Genome project)

Here is the conclusion:  “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images, made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the Truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator, who is forever praised. Amen.”

So every person has the external witness of creation, which they know in their hearts came from a Creator. They have the internal witness of their conscience which bears witness to right and wrong.  This evidence of truth has been revealed to every person by God. This is why they are without excuse.  They know the truth. They exchanged Jesus, the Truth Incarnate for Barabbas.

It all started in the Garden of Eden when the serpent questioned the accuracy, the authorship and acceptability of God’s word with one question:  Hath God really said? From that point on man decided for himself what was right and wrong. Truth became relative. And today we live in a culture, which John described in I John 5: 19:  “We know we are the children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” Do you realize what has happened?  Those who have exchanged the truth for a lie are trying to escape guilt.  They have passed laws to say they are not guilty of sin. They are the majority and they hate the minority, because the hate the Truth, Lord Jesus and they hate those who side with the Truth.  The only way they can

escape their guilt is through the Life of the Lord Jesus for He is the way.  He is the Truth. And we are the salt and light- to preserve and dispel darkness.  This is our purpose. This is our time.

FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS

We live in a time and era when one feels “safer” describing themselves as “spiritual” rather than “religious”.  They define their belief system as “doubters” rather than “believers.” They are more comfortable as “seekers” rather than “finders”.  As a result look what has happened in the following areas:

1.     Religion/churches:  describe themselves as “seeker-friendly”. Some even taking softer and even opposing beliefs about sexual sin and same-sex marriage.

2.     Family- redefined.  No longer just a man and a woman. Genders identification has become confusing as they accuse the Creator of creating the wrong body for them.

3.     Government- Politics is always a lagging indicator of where society is moving. They depend on polls to tell them what causes to support. Thus we have legalized: abortion on demand, drugs, prostitution, gambling, same-sex marriage and euthanasia.

4.     Media- the media supports the government. Interesting many of the nation’s newspapers used to carry on their masthead:  “we may disagree with what you say, but we will defend to death your right to say it.”  No they will not tolerate your belief in the absolute truth of God’s Word.  The press was  once the defender of truth is now offended by truth

5.     Education- what an influence they have on the minds of our children. They stress doubt in the truth of God’s Word, the Bible. In fact it is not allowed in the public schools. In colleges, its truths are debunked with pseudo science and intellectual philosophy.

6.     Entertainment- supports and imitates and portrays as positive this sinful lifestyle while taking every opportunity to belittle Christianity.

7.     Economy- our economy is based on consumer spending. It accounts for 70% of GDP. Satan, who is the prince of this world, says the things of the world are what will give you happiness and meaning. This world can provide you with happiness, not the Word of God.

These are seven vital areas of our society and culture. What we see happening is the battle for control of these seven areas which are the backbone and fabric of our culture. Read in Revelation 17 of the society and culture in the end times under the Anti-Christ. The society and culture is described as a prostitute, a Great Harlot, Mystery Babylon the mother of harlots and abominations on earth.

She sits atop seven (7) mountains.  She will have created her own religion, redefined family, and is in control of education, the government, media, entertainment, and the economy. In fact you must take her mark, the mark of the beast in order to buy and sell.

It is for such at time as this, you and I have come into the kingdom.

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