Jesus endured trials before the official religious assembly and the Roman government, represented by Pilate and Herod.
In today’s YouTube video, Rudy Ross and I will discuss common threads between Jesus’ trial with current events in America. The majority of my blog article will focus on the historical situation.
When the Sanhedrin, the ruling religious body in Jerusalem, was convinced of Jesus’ guilt, they brought him to Pilate. Their accusation was designed to provoke the Roman governor to execute him on the cross.
— Luke 23.1-5 – Then the assembly rose as a body and brought Jesus before Pilate.
They began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man perverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king.”
Then Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
He answered, “You say so.”
Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no basis for an accusation against this man.”
But they were insistent and said, “He stirs up the people by teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to this place.”
The religious authorities were convinced that Jesus used magic to lead people away from true faith in God. According to Deuteronomy 13, the punishment for this crime was death.
— Deuteronomy 13.1-3 and 5 – If prophets or those who divine by dreams appear among you and promise you omens or portents,
And the omens or the portents declared by them take place, and they say, “Let us follow other gods” (whom you have not known) “and let us serve them,”
You must not heed the words of those prophets or those who divine by dreams; but those prophets or those who divine by dreams shall be put to death for having spoken treason against the Lord your God.
They added to the offense of “perverting our nation,” something that would interest the Roman government. They claimed he was “forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king.”
Rome didn’t care about the Jewish religion, but the punishment for rebels was crucifixion. Anyone who claimed to be a Messiah or a king was certain to be crucified.
Pilate responded to the Jewish leaders that he had no grounds to condemn Jesus.
Bible students believe that Pilate did this to irritate his enemies, the Temple authorities. Whether that is true or not, Pilate attempted to escape condemning Jesus by sending him to Herod.
Jesus Before Herod
Pilate was the governor of the area around Jerusalem and Herod Antipas was Rome’s leader over Galilee. Pilate sent Jesus to Herod for judgment.
— Luke 23.6-12 – When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean.
And when he learned that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him off to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time.
When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign.
He questioned him at some length, but Jesus gave him no answer.
The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him.
Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then he put an elegant robe on him, and sent him back to Pilate.
That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies.
You will recall that Herod was the evil ruler, who had John the Baptist executed to impress drunken party-goers at his home.
Herod wanted to see Jesus because he was curious about the miracles he had heard that Jesus performed. Jesus said nothing at all to Herod.
Jesus’ response recalls the prophecy of Isaiah.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53.7)
Beware of Power!
We do well to remember that the religious leaders and Roman authorities were the “powers” of their day. They were feared and respected. People catered to them with the hope of receiving their favors.
Jesus surrounded himself with women, outsiders, children, marginalized persons, and the like. He blessed the poor (Luke 6.20).
As we continue to read Luke, we will see women, outcasts, and the poor sympathetic to his suffering.
On the other hand, beginning with Herod and extending to the soldiers and religious leaders around the cross, the powerful poured out their vitriol on Jesus with the harshest of efforts.
It is important that we are not seduced by power. If so, we may end up on the wrong side of God’s will.
The best choice we can make is to be aligned with God and his purposes.
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
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