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I’d like to take a different approach to the trial of Jesus than the one customarily presented. There are facts, such as Annas being the “retired” high priest, but still having authority. There is the clear gross injustice, that allows our heavenly Father to feel with all injustice in the world.
I would like, however, to attempt place all of us within the story. Jesus was entirely innocent. We are thoroughly guilty. His innocent sacrifice on the cross was given so we could be forgiven and have a relationship with God. I would like to look at our guilt, both today and tomorrow, so we can better appreciate Jesus’ innocence and sacrifice. Let’s imagine that we are on trial.
John 18.13-27 – First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.
15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16 but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in.
17 The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18 Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.
19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.”
22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?”
23 Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?”
24 Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.”
26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” 27 Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.
Experience the Trial with Jesus
I had the idea of experiencing the trial of Jesus with him from E. Stanley Jones (1884-1973). He was a missionary to India and made the cover of TIME magazine in 1938 and called “the world’s greatest missionary evangelist.”
Jones spent the night in the Garden of Gethsemane to pray and to seek greater understanding of Jesus’ agony in that garden.
We can’t go to the garden, but we can picture ourselves on trial. If Jesus had not gone to trial and to the cross, our trial would be real, our guilt would still remain and we would be under God’s judgment.
Praise God for the truth of Isaiah’s words.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53.5-6).
Our trial for what we should have done, but didn’t
As a way of more deeply appreciating what Jesus has accomplished for us in his trial and execution, please consider the following list. I used the questions below during a time of prayer and meditation when I was a young preacher. The experience was one of the most significant times with God that I have ever had. I pray that it will bless you.
Note, we examining ourselves like we are on the witness stand confessing all of the things we have failed to do. You may want to make a list on paper of what God says to you during this time of prayer.
This list involves what we have not done, but what we should have done. They once were called “sins of omission.”
(1) Ingratitude – Make a list of all of the times God has done something for you and you didn’t stop to thank him. Think of the mercies you have received, but you took them for granted.
(2) Lack of love for God – How often have you given your heart to other loves, but neglected giving your love to God?
(3) Neglect of the Bible – Write down the days and weeks you have spent not reading the Bible. Consider the times when you have read the Bible, but your heart in it.
(4) Unbelief – What have you done with God’s promises? Have you sought to know what God has promised you in the Bible? Are you trusting God for the promises you do know, such as the gift of the Spirit and the power of prayer? If not, confess your unbelief and ask for God’s forgiveness.
(5) Neglect of prayer – Do you have a daily time when you meet God for prayer? Is it regular? If you have omitted this from your life, confess it to God and ask him to renew your prayer experience.
(6) Your lack of love for people who are distant from God – Do you have people for whom you are praying for their salvation? Are you asking God for an opportunity to tell of how you became a follower of Jesus? If the answer is “no,” ask for forgiveness and change your behavior.
(7) Neglect of family duties – How have you lived before your family? How have you prayed for your family? What direct efforts do you make for their spiritual good? Is there any duty you have neglected? Take time to examine to take an inventory of these questions. Ask for his forgiveness and agree with God to change any negative behavior.
(8) Neglect of watchfulness over your own life – Make a list of times when you have neglected to guard your eyes, your tongue, and your hearing. If these instances have led to sin, ask for God’s pardon and for the Spirit’s power to be more watchful.
(9) Neglect of self-denial – It is a tendency of people to do anything that is asked of them as long as it does not require the denial of our self. Examine your time, energy, talents, money, and possessions. Are you willing to give fully, or do you hold back.
Many of nine sections contained places for confession and repentance. Praise God, we do not have to stand trial. Jesus went to court for us, so truth of 1 John 1.9 could be reality in our lives.
John writes, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1.9).
Note: the above list is adapted from Charles Finney’s book, “Lectures on Revival.”
Dear Jesus, we praise you with our entire being. You went through the grief of totally unjust trials and the cross, so we could live free. I regret all of the ways I have failed to live up to your goodness. I do receive your forgiveness and ask for your help to live a life that pleases you.