A Sorry Excuse for a Trial

From Issue: Discovery 9/1/2004

In the United States, every person who is accused of a crime is supposed to be given a fair trial. Each person accused of a crime is “innocent until proven guilty.” But sometimes things do not go according to the law. Sometimesa judge will accept a bribe, or a witness will lie. If we find out that something illegal happened during the trial, then it is called a mistrial, and another trial takes place.

During Jesus’ day, trials were supposed to be fair, much like ours today. But when we look into the trial of Jesus, we find out that many things were illegal about the trial. First, when Jesus was captured, He was taken to Caiaphas the high priest, who was supposed to be acting like a fair judge in the case. But the Bible says that “many false witnesses came forward” and lied about Jesus (Matthew 26:60). The Old Testament said that if a person was a false witness, then he was supposed to be punished (Deuteronomy 19:16-19). But, even though Caiaphas knew the witnesses were lying about Jesus, he did not stop them or punish them.

Second, according to the Old Testament, Caiaphas was not supposed to sentence Jesus to death unless he could find two or three witnesses who were truthful (Deuteronomy 17:5). Caiaphas could not find two or three truthful witnesses, but he sentenced Jesus to death anyway.

After the illegal trial before the Jewish leader Caiaphas, Jesus was sent to Pontius Pilate, the Roman official who was in charge of Judea. When Pilate questioned Jesus, he could not find any evidence against Him either. In fact, Pilate questioned Jesus several times, and still did not find any reason to punish Him. Pilate told the Jewish leaders three times that hehad found no reason to put Jesus to death. At one point in the trial, Pilate’s wife begged him notto hurt Jesus, because Jesus was a just man, and she had dreamed about Him. For this reason, Pilate attempted to persuade the Jewish leaders to let Jesus go. Each year at the Passover, Pilate allowed one prisoner to go free. Pilate gave the Jewish leaders a choice between Jesus and a man named Barabbas, who was a murderer. The Jews chose to release Barabbas, and demanded that Jesus be crucified.

The trial of Jesus was illegal and unfair. Caiaphas did not follow the Old Testament law, and Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent. But even though these men did wrong and sinned, God used their action to set the stage for Jesus to defeat death by coming back from the grave. Even today, God can use unfair things that happen to us to bring glory to Him.


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