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Summary: The civil trial of Jesus in Luke 23:1-12 shows us the innocence of Jesus.

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Scripture

Jesus was betrayed by Judas and arrested by the religious authorities in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. He was taken to the high priest’s house where Peter denied knowing him three times before the rooster crowed. Then Jesus was subjected to a religious trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin where he was found “guilty” of blasphemy. But since it was not lawful for the Jews to put anyone to death (John 18:31), they sent Jesus to Pilate for a civil trial.

Kent Hughes summarizes what happened next, “A political trial under secular Roman authority and law was necessary. Thus came the most infamous trial in history, a weird, twisted thing that began before Pilate, the careerist Roman politician, then detoured to the tetrarch Herod, the half-Jew puppet ruler, and finally returned to Pilate where the awful judgment was rendered.”

Let’s read about Jesus before Pilate in Luke 23:1-12:

1 Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” 3 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 4 Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” 5 But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”

6 When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7 And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. 8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. 9 So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11 And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. 12 And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other. (Luke 23:1-12)

Introduction

On Friday, April 15, 2016 a judge vacated the murder conviction of 76-year-old Jack McCullough. A prosecutor says McCullough was wrongly convicted in the 1957 killing of an Illinois schoolgirl. This means that one of the oldest cold cases to be tried in U.S. history has officially gone cold again.

McCullough was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for the death of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph in Sycamore, about 70 miles west of Chicago. In a review of documents last year, a prosecutor found evidence that supported the former policeman's long-held alibi that he was 40 miles away in Rockford at the time of Maria's disappearance.

The Illinois judicial system worked well to free an innocent man who had been wrongly convicted of a crime.


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