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The Trial of Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ was unique in a great many ways, right from the time and circumstances of His birth. His life was unlike any other human, even though He was also as human as any other. His "trial" by the religious and political authorities, by almost any legal standards, was also unprecedented because, of all of those involved, Jesus was the only innocent person there - and nearly everyone, from the members of the religious council, to the lynch mob that they had under their control, to the Roman governor who sentenced Christ to be horribly crucified, knew it.

"Now the chief priests and the whole council sought false testimony against Jesus"

After being seized by the mob at Gethsemane (see Prayer In The Darkness), The Lord was taken before the high priest - ironically, the holder of the office that was created by The Lord in the time of Moses merely as a foreshadow of Christ Himself (see What Is Jesus Christ Doing Right Now?).


"Then those who had seized Jesus led Him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the Scribes and the elders [see The Senate] had gathered. But Peter followed Him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end." (Matthew 26:57-58 RSV)

The "chief priests and the whole council" sought anything to convict the Christ, but they had a problem even getting false "evidence" against Him. They therefore had to resort to perverting the truthful statements that He had made. When it became obvious that was the means that they were using, "Jesus was silent."

"Now the chief priests and the whole council sought false testimony against Jesus that they might put Him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, "This fellow said, 'I am able to destroy the Temple of God, and to build it in three days.'"

And the high priest stood up and said, "Have You no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against You?"

But Jesus was silent." (Matthew 26:59-63 RSV)

The high priest then resorted to Adjuration to force Christ to answer their loaded questions, from which the physical torture of The Messiah began.

"And the high priest said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.

Jesus said to him, "You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven."

Then the high priest tore his robes, and said, "He has uttered blasphemy. Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?"

They answered, "He deserves death."

Then they spat in His face, and struck Him; and some slapped Him, saying, "Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?" (Matthew 26:63-68 RSV)

"Have nothing to do with that righteous man"

Since the land of Israel was occupied by the Romans, the Sanhedrin needed an execution order from the local governor, so they had Christ brought before the governor of that day, a man named Pontius Pilate.

Roman Governor

"Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked Him, "Are you the King of the Jews?"

Jesus said, "You have said so."

But when He was accused by the chief priests and elders, He made no answer.

Then Pilate said to Him, "Do you not hear how many things they testify against You?"

But He gave him no answer, not even to a single charge; so that the governor wondered greatly." (Matthew 27:11-14 RSV)

Pilate realized that he was seeing the persecution of an innocent man, so he attempted to force Christ's accusers to release Jesus by giving them a choice of sparing either Christ or a recognized public enemy named Barabbas.

"Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release for you, Barabbas or Jesus who is called Christ?" For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered Him up." (Matthew 27:15-18 RSV)

Pilate's wife also pleaded the case for Christ.

"Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, "Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much over him today in a dream." (Matthew 27:19 RSV)

Despite it all, the people chose to have a vicious criminal released in their midst rather than to spare the life of the innocent Christ.

"Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the people to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.

The governor again said to them, "Which of the two do you want me to release for you?"

And they said, "Barabbas."

Pilate said to them, "Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?"

They all said, "Let Him be crucified."

And he said, "Why, what evil has He done?"

But they shouted all the more, "Let Him be crucified." (Matthew 27:20-23 RSV)

Pilate then surrendered to the mob's will, while claiming innocence for himself.

"So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves."

And all the people answered, "His blood be on us and on our children!"

Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered Him to be crucified." (Matthew 27:24-26 RSV)

Fact Finder: What happened to Jesus after He was taken away from Pilate?
See Before The Battle Line

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