Making A Difference In The Nation's Capital Through Prayer And Action

Day 6: The Trial

Mar 30, 2021

Countdown to the Resurrection

Silent Before His Accusers

One thing is certain on Capitol Hill. Too often political goals and the preservation of power make the truth expendable. Listening to radical House and Senate committee members and their witnesses “testify” regarding the so-called “Equality Act” perfectly illustrates the willingness of leaders to blatantly lie to advance their agenda.

Such was certainly the case in the trial of Jesus of Nazareth. The “trial” actually took place in three stages as Jesus stood before the High Priest and the Sanhedrin, before Herod and before Pontius Pilate.

Each trial took on a different tone—a different theme.

For Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, the focus was doctrinal. They sought witnesses for the express purpose of condemning Jesus to death based on his “heretical” teaching.

Now the chief priests and all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimonies did not agree. Then some rose up and bore false witness against Him, saying, “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.’ ” … And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” … Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ … ?” Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! … ” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death (Mark 14:55-64).

The trial itself was patently illegal, but such a formality was no match for these leaders driven by their hatred of Jesus. “What did you teach?” “Did you really say you would build a new temple in three days?” “Listen to all of this testimony against you. Are these witnesses all wrong?” In the face of these accusations, Jesus remained silent.

If you’ve ever been falsely accused, you know how difficult it must have been to remain quiet. Yet Jesus knew the charges were false. He knew the entire trial was a pretense. The outcome was determined before the trial even began. And Jesus also knew everything was unfolding in accord with the redemptive purposes of the Father.

So, in the face of blatant lies, Jesus remained still.

It was only when asked directly, “Are you the Messiah?” that He boldly declared, “I Am.” Those words (which reflected the sacred name of God) were all that was necessary. “BLASPHEMY!,” cried the High Priest. And they condemned Him to death – even though legally they had no such authority.

For Herold, it was more personal. Herod was looking to witness the supernatural wonders he heard about when Jesus was in Galilee. The Gospel of Luke describes the appearance of Jesus before Herod.

When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked if the Man were a Galilean. And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod. … Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him. Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him. Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate (Luke 23:6-11).

This is the Herod who was living in open incest and had John the Baptist executed. Jesus once referred to Herod as a “fox.” In modern thought, to call someone a fox means they’re cunning or sly. In rabbinic thought, however, a fox was something worthless. Herod was a worthless fraud, looking to witness a miracle for his own enjoyment. Throughout the entirety of the interrogation and indignities at the hand of Herod, Jesus remains silent.

The priests and scribes then launch into attack mode and vehemently accuse Jesus. Luke’s Gospel makes clear that Herod found no guilt in Jesus, but instead of releasing Him, this contemptible despot sends Jesus back to Pilate. How often the powerful seek out people of faith, hoping to get something out of them. But when they don’t get what they want, they attack, resorting to ridicule and mockery.

And yet, even in their attacks, the actions of Herod and his sycophants only serve to acknowledge the glory of Jesus as they try to humiliate Him by placing a “gorgeous robe” around His shoulders. This robe was a festal robe kings often wore in special moments of pomp and ceremony. The one so openly ridiculed is in reality the King of Glory, the Righteousness of God, whose sacrifice secures our salvation.

And as for Pilate? His focus was political. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked. All of the Gospels record the first encounter between Jesus and Pilate, after which Pilate declares he finds no fault in Jesus. It is to this pronouncement the scribes and Pharisees respond with even greater fury and passion.

John takes us further in the story as Pilate ask Jesus an important question:

“Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. … ” From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar(John 19:10b-12).

Although Pilate continually entreated the crowd that Jesus was innocent, the political threat in those words is unmistakable—and Pilate understands it well. As a result, in spite of his own misgivings, in spite of his recognition of the innocence of Jesus, in spite of the warnings from his wife, Pilate gives in to the religious leaders and condemns Jesus to be crucified.

Pilate's desire to maintain his political position overrides everything else.

Each of the three trials had a different theme, but for all of them, the goal was the same—the preservation of power and influence.

The Sanhedrin was perfectly and knowingly willing to allow witnesses to lie in order to maintain their position of power over the people. Herod was willing to contemptuously send Jesus to His death because the miracle worker would not perform for Him and the fake king could countenance no such refusal. Pilate was willing to compromise truth and condemn innocence to stay within the good graces of Caesar and remain governor of Judea.

And yet—within a generation, Jerusalem was destroyed and the power of the High Priest and the Sanhedrin broken. Within a generation, Herod was dead and his family lineage as the rulers of Galilee was gone forever. Marcus Pontius Pilate was soon replaced, and ultimately, according to the Ecclesiastical History written by Eusebius, committed suicide on the orders of the Roman Emperor Caligula.

We are reminded of the words of the psalmist:

Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision. ...“Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion” (Ps. 2:1-4, 6).

Power drives Washington, D.C. At Faith & Liberty, however, we daily work to remind these power brokers that they are accountable to a greater power – the lordship of Jesus Christ, our King. As such, we challenge them to remember that their calling is not to rule but to be God’s ministers as public servants. We also prophetically confront them with the truths of the Gospel.

Speaking Truth to Power—that is the ongoing task of your missionaries to Washington, D.C. But we can only do it because of your continuing prayers and ongoing generosity. Take a moment now to stand with us. Thank you!

Once again, as we countdown to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, may all of God’s very best be yours!

 


Faith & Liberty is an evangelistic ministry, taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the nation's top elected and appointed officials. Our mission is simple: To bring the Word of God to bear on the hearts and minds of those that make public policy in America. We rely on your support to accomplish this important ministry. Thank you for your generosity.


TAKE ACTION