Summary: Jesus received a properly conducted trial by Pilate, yet Jesus still ended up being crucified. This message identifies the cause.
You can listen to the full sermon here:-
Our King Jesus Falsely Condemned.
There is a common perception that the trials of Jesus - one conducted by the Sanhedrin and one conducted by Pilate - were both illegal and made without observation of the rule of law.
That is certainly true for the “trial” by the Sanhedrin.
It was conducted at night.
It didn’t take place in the temple.
Jesus was without a defence.
Capital trials were required to last two days.
Trials could not be conducted on Feast days.
The involvement of contrary and false witnesses should immediately end the trial.
The trial conducted by the Sanhedrin wasn’t a trial - this was the religious leadership expediting a death that they had wanted to occur for some time.
The trial which Pilate conducts is actually conducted according to legal process.
A legal trial need four elements.
What are the charges against the accused?
In this case the Sanhedrin bring the charges.
We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.
The judge asks the accused specific questions in order to find the truth.
Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?”
The accused can make their defence
My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders.
“Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate. “You have said so,” Jesus replied.
The verdict is given
I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death.
It might go against all that we think about Pilate. But Pilate doesn’t deal with Jesus in a ruthless and uncaring manner. Pilate makes sure that Jesus is given a proper Roman-law trial.
And Pilate does more than that.
Pilate knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him
Pilate knows that Jesus is popular with the crowds. Pilate is hoping to pit the crowd against the leaders.
What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
Pilate keeps coming back to the question of the law - tell me where the law has been broken.
At some point Pilate realises he can’t get anywhere in the public forum. So Pilate has a private discussion with Jesus in his own headquarters. During that conversation he reminds Jesus of the situation.
“Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
Pilate is basically saying, “Let me get you out of this.”
After this private conversation we see the heart of Pilate.
From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free.
Pilate cares nothing about the political opinions or the religious views of either the prosecutors or the defendants; Pilate is concerned about one thing alone; namely whether Jesus is guilty of the treasonous acts.
So why does Jesus still end up being crucified?
Let’s read Luke 23:13-25
Why does Jesus still end up being crucified even though three times in this chapter Pilate declares that Jesus is innocent?
23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand.
Pilate knew the truth. Jesus is innocent. But Pilate has a problem. At this moment he is faced with the choice of standing with Jesus, or standing with the crowd.
So even though Jesus is declared innocent Pilate chooses the crowd.
What does this choice tell us? Standing with Jesus comes at a cost
And it comes at a cost because, when our journey crosses with the journey of Jesus, our lives are turned upside-down.
Think about the Rich Young Man in Matthew 19
He thought he was a good Jew who followed the commandments. Jesus asks one thing from him. “Sell all your possession and give them to the poor.” Suddenly the rich man understands - I can’t put putting money before God.
His world has been turned upside down. And he walks away from Jesus … he listens to his crowded heart and the cost is too much.
Think about the Woman Caught in Adultery in John 8
She has been caught in the act, standing before the group of accusers in nothing but a sheet. Jesus writes words in the dirt. Jesus tells the innocent ones to throw the first stone. Finally it is just Jesus and the woman.