llegal Trials of Jesus (3 and 4)

And the saga continues:


By the time the first two trials were over, Jesus was bleeding and bruised when, as yet, there was no official verdict cast upon his life. All that transpired occurred during the hours of darkness, and therefore nothing would be recognized as official by the Romans until he had his audience before the Sanhedrin.

Luke 22 records what transpired about 6 o’clock in the morning. Luke 22:66 says it was day. Mark 15:1 tells us it was early in the morning. Understand that the supreme court of the Jews was the Sanhedrin. What they discovered and declared became law. There was no such thing as going to a higher court, because there was no higher court. Therefore, when the Sanhedrin met, and passed final judgment, it was as the law of the Medes and the Persians, Jesus was destined for the cross.

Luke 22:66-71, “And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying, Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe: And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go. Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God. Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth.”

This third trial was the shortest of all the trials. Jesus, in their mind, was guilty. Besides Nicodemus, who acquiesced in silence, they voted unanimously to take him to Pilate. The charge was blasphemy, but that would not stand up in a Roman court. Therefore, between the time that they dismissed and gained an audience with the governor, Pilate, they made plans to switch the accusation to treason, and they claimed that he was guilty of attempting to overthrow the government.

Luke 23:1, “And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate.”


The law is no longer the Talmud, the law is now is the Roman Code of Criminal Procedure. And there were four steps that they must follow to make this an accurate court of law. We’ll carry them through one by one.

Firstly, here’s a little background on Pilate. He was an anti-Semitic, Spain born Gentile. He was appointed by Caesar to govern Judea. He is what we would call the governor of the State, though in those days they had provinces. Pilate was a marked man in the mind of Caesar, and also his court, because of the number of revolutions that had broken out under his rule. He had made some unwise decisions, he had murdered some Jews, he had tightened the screws of Roman requirements, he lacked diplomacy. Therefore, the State over which he served was in turmoil.

Caesar, with tacit approval, left him there as governor, but he was under investigation at this particular time. After the trial and death of Jesus, Pilate was banished to Gall and, while he was there, he died of suicide. Pilate was a very unstable man, and because of a few political maneuverings on his part, he became the governor of a province.

The time was around 6:30 to 7 o’clock in the morning.

John 18:28, “Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the Passover.”
They were criminal in attitude, but they were extremely legal in their religion. The Talmud stated that no Jew could enter a Gentile court on Passover, or he would be defiled. So they stayed out of the court itself, and apparently, Pilate came out to them.

John 18:29, “Pilate then went out unto them…”
You’ll see him coming out and going back in continuous fashion. Now, the first law of Roman criminal code in its procedure was accusation, that’s the first thing that Pilate covered.

John 18:29-30, “…What accusation bring ye against this man? They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.”
This is a sarcastic answer and did not answer Pilate’s question. “If he was not guilty, we wouldn’t be here, Pilate!”

John 18:31, “Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law…”
Pilate doesn’t know that it’s a capital punishment under way. He simply said if it’s a problem in your law, then you take him and you judge him.

John 18:31, “…The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:”
This changes the whole thing. From the other gospels, they declared that he’s guilty of treason, and that he claimed to be another Caesar.

John 18:33, “Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again…”
You see, he’s entering in again.

John 18:33, “…and called Jesus.”
The second law of Roman criminal code in its procedure, after accusation, was interrogation, to probe and search for evidence against the man. Thus the following questions:

John 18:33-35, “…Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?”
He wanted to know if Jesus was in the process of overthrowing the government in Palestine.

John 18:36, “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.”
If Jesus wanted to overthrow the government, his servants would be fighting, carrying on a revolution, taking lives, storming this temple, ruining this procedure. But you don’t even find my servants out there!

The third process in the Roman code was defense. And now Pilate, acting on behalf of a defense attorney, begins to look at this side of Jesus. By the way, the Roman Law, much like American law, allowed for a defense attorney, but you never find where Jesus was allowed that. So Pilate looks at it from Jesus’ point of view…”so you’re a king!”

John 18:37, “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”

John 18:38, “Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?”
This has nothing to do with the case, it has a lot to do with Pilate’s mind set. He was a very mixed up, miserable man. In a matter of months, he would be taking his own life. He is in a quandary regarding the area of objective, sound truth. And so he says, “What’s truth?”

John 18:38, “…And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.”

The fourth step is a verdict. Accusation, interrogation, defense, and a verdict. And all four are acted out for us right here. Pilate says he finds no guilt! All he finds is some spiritual kingdom, and that’s not going to affect or threaten Rome! Jesus is not guilty of treason!

Luke 23:4-5, “Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.”

Now when Pilate heard the word “Galilee,” he had an ingenious idea. Galilee really wasn’t his jurisdiction, and since he didn’t want this case, he tried to find somebody else to try Jesus! (Charles Swindoll)


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