Summary: The kangaroo court and trial of Jesus
November 25, 2018
Jesus Christ “King of the Jews”
The Sanhedrin and Jewish leaders have now plotted to have Jesus not only arrested by the ruling Roman government but also, seek to have Him killed.
“And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad. Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death.” John 11:49-53
Today’s reading picks up at the Praetorium – The residence of Pontius Pilate as Roman procurator and the local center of Roman government. I envision it as comparable to the White House in Washington D.C. Jesus is brought before Pilate, seeking the death penalty for suspicion of attempting to lead His followers, in an attempt, to overthrow the Roman occupation of the region. In other words, they manufactured this claim from the reputation and title that Jesus’ followers referred to him as “The King of the Jews”.
Pilate is not at all comfortable being put in a position of judging this man of great repute among the Jews. He appears to be trying to come up with a way of finding Jesus “not guilty” of crimes against Rome. In verse 35, Pilate asks, “What have you done?”.
Jesus responds in His usual fashion of covering all the bases, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now my kingdom is not from here”. Verse 36. Did you pick up on the “but now” in Jesus answer? That immediately brings to my mind that the earthly kingdom is not of His realm until His second coming, where he shall judge the living and the dead.
“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:” 2 Timothy 4:1
So, Pilate asks Him, “Are You a king then?” verse 37
Jesus answers Pilate, “Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause, I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”’ Verse 37
The kingdom as we know it is a spiritual kingdom. Of course, the heavenly kingdom is eternal, and it has no boundaries. Though His kingdom is not from here, and the earthly kingdom is not of His realm does not exclude an “earthly kingdom”. The kingdom is a spiritual kingdom and encompasses the hearts of believers. It shall not be a universal kingdom until the fulfillment of the Great Commission and The Second Coming.
For a man of such power, Pilate comes across as a man of ambition and weak character. Pilate was taunted by the high priests who recognized his ambition. If we skip forward to John 19:15 we read: “But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?”
The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”
There is a very subtle nuance here. Pilate seeks to have a better relationship with Caesar and views this opportunity to embellish his loyalty to him. So, Pilate acquiesces to the calls for the crucifixion of Jesus.
This is a very vivid example of compromising one’s convictions for gain or aspirations. Many years ago, I was the patrol commander of a police department. There was a sneaky, underhanded plot underway to frame the police chief so that the popular second-in-command could be elevated to that position. There was a standing order which required, a command level officer to be in the headquarters at all times. The chief was due to return on a certain date and it was assumed that he would not make it in to work on time. The plot was to make certain that because of the chief’s absence, the standing order would be violated, if no command level officer was in. On that day, I was teaching as an adjunct at the local junior college. I received a message that the chief wasn’t going to make it back to town in time. I called every command level officer and was told by each one that there was no way they could stop what they were doing and go in. The plot became obvious at that point. I immediately cancelled my classes and went in to work. I had no idea that this plot extended all the way to the mayor’s office until he came storming into my office with an entourage of council members demanding to know what I was doing there and where was the chief. I paid a heavy price for standing on my convictions but did what I felt was the right thing. As an aside – the newly appointed police chief was fired in less than six months when the rank and file protested to the city with a “lack of confidence” writ.