Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, “Behold the Man!” Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die because He made Himself the Son of God.” (John 19:5-7)
The Case Against Jesus
There is no doubt the legal case against Jesus was a travesty of justice and mockery of Roman law. The Jews and the Romans accused, tried, convicted and executed Jesus in a manner that was illegal from beginning to end. It was not because Jesus was the Son of God and had committed no sin that made the case against Jesus so heinous in the legal sense. Showcased before all humanity the trial of the man from Nazareth was fraught with a frenzied, misguided zeal bent on hatred, envy, and fear. Pontius Pilate, the procurator of Judea, became the central figure in the trials of Jesus. Tried by the Jewish courts and Roman law, Jesus would ultimately be condemned by Pilate for crucifixion. After standing before Annas and Caiaphas in the Jewish courts, Jesus was brought before Pilate for the final decision on the disposition of his case. Pilate could find no fault in the man and tried to release Him to the people. To placate the crowd, Jesus had been scourged which was a severe beating leading a person close to death but this did not satisfy the Jews. Again Pilate sought to release Jesus but then the Jews cried out that Jesus must be killed because He had made Himself to be the Son of God. They told the governor they had a law, and according to that law, Jesus should die. The Law of Moses condemned those who would blaspheme the name of the Lord. Ironically, the law called for the person to be stoned but the Jews wanted the cruelest of punishments for Jesus when requesting crucifixion. The Mosaical law warned against those who would rise up and call themselves prophets who were not prophets. In the language of the law, God had said for the people not to listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord their God would test them to know whether they loved the Lord their God with all their hearts and with all their souls. One of the evidence of whether a man was a prophet of the Lord was whether what he said came to pass. The people were warned to not listen to a man who would entice them from the way in which the Lord commanded them to walk. It was this law the Jews appealed to Pilate to deliver Jesus to be crucified. What makes the death of Jesus so horrific was the law used to condemn Him was the same law that should have exonerated Him of guilt. Time and again Jesus proved He was the Son of God because the words that He taught were from the Father and His miracles proved He was the Son of God. The Law of Moses proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was the Christ the Son of God as Peter would later prove a few months later at Pentecost.
The second travesty of the trial of Jesus was how easily the Jews manipulated Pilate. After Jesus had been scourged, Pilate delivered Jesus and declared Him innocent. The Jews cried out the Law of Moses demanded Jesus to be put to death and charged Jesus with blasphemy. However, the charge they now presented for executing Jesus was changed from their original charge that brought Jesus before the Roman court earlier. They had arraigned the man from Nazareth for blasphemy and condemned Him to die which would lead to the death of Jesus. When they had brought Jesus before Pilate, in the beginning, they accused Jesus of sedition against the Roman government and Caesar. There could be no reason Pilate would have listened to the Jews in the beginning if they were charging Jesus with breaking Jewish law as Pilate would not have accepted the charge. After arresting Jesus in the garden and taking Him before the Sanhedrin, the whole multitude arose and led Him to Pilate and began to accuse Jesus as a fellow perverting the nation, forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar and calling himself a king. These were very serious charges in the Roman courts. When Pilate found no basis for the charge the Jews further insisted that Jesus stirred up the people to sedition. This also was proven false. The trials of Jesus took place over a few hours without legal representation or due process of law. When the Jews brought Jesus, in the beginning, their charge was sedition but finding Pilate unwilling to accept the charge the Jewish leaders changed in midstream and charged Jesus with blasphemy. To charge a man as a rebel was a serious crime but had failed in proving Jesus guilty. Pilate knew the Jews were bringing Jesus up on charges for envy. The cowardly heart of Pilate could see what the Jews were doing and he allowed an innocent man to be executed. In the final attempt to kill Jesus, the Jews accuse Him of blasphemy, which was the very proof of His innocence. He was the Son of God and His miracles proved what the Law of Moses demanded.
Beyond the legal ramifications of the trials of Jesus, humanity exhibited its worst character in the death of Jesus. There have been many cases throughout history where justice was mocked and innocent people have suffered but none as completely as a man who had no sin. Jesus was a man who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil. He always sought the good and welfare of others and often took away their pain physically and spiritually. His power was manifested through His miracles as a testimony to who He was and the elders, scribes and Jewish leaders could never deny a miracle of Jesus. They tried to attack His teachings and failed on every point. The hatred of the Jews before Pilate as they screamed for the death of Jesus was the model for the impact of sin on the heart of men and the reason Jesus died. Pilate knew Jesus was innocent but was more concerned for himself than the man who stood before him. The Son of God willingly allowed what was wrong to be done to Him so that what was right in the mind of His Father would save the creatures that cried out for His death. Jesus prayed to the Father to forgive His accusers. What more could be said and what more could be done? Praise God for His love. Thank you, Jesus, for your sacrifice.