John 18: 28 – 40
28 Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. 29 Pilate then went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?” 30 They answered and said to him, “If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.” 31 Then Pilate said to them, “You take Him and judge Him according to your law.” Therefore the Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,” 32 that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die. 33 Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?” 36 Jesus answered, “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.” 37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” 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.” 38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all. 39 “But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40 Then they all cried again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.
Here are the Scriptures from the other Gospel writers dealing with this action against our Lord Jesus. Let’s s take a look at their views on what happened.
Matthew 27:1 – 23, “When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death. 2 And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor. 3 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” 5 Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself. 6 But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.” 7 And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. 8 Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, 10 and gave them for the potter’s field, as the LORD directed me.” 11 Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.” 12 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. 13 Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” 14 But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly. 15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to releasing to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished. 16 And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy 19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.” 20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor answered and said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” They said, “Barabbas!” 22 Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!” 23 Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!”
Mark 15: 1 - 14 “Immediately, in the morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council; and they bound Jesus, led Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate. 2 Then Pilate asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” He answered and said to him, “It is as you say.” 3 And the chief priests accused Him of many things, but He answered nothing. 4 Then Pilate asked Him again, saying, “Do You answer nothing? See how many things they testify against You! ”5 But Jesus still answered nothing, so that Pilate marveled. 6 Now at the feast he was accustomed to releasing one prisoner to them, whomever they requested. 7 And there was one named Barabbas, who was chained with his fellow rebels; they had committed murder in the rebellion. 8 Then the multitude, crying aloud, began to ask him to do just as he had always done for them. 9 But Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd, so that he should rather release Barabbas to them. 12 Pilate answered and said to them again, “What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?” 13 So they cried out again, “Crucify Him!” 14 Then Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out all the more, “Crucify Him!”
Luke 23: 1 - 25, “Then the whole multitude of them arose and led Him to Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.” 3 Then Pilate asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” He answered him and said, “It is as you say.” 4 So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no fault in this Man.” 5 But they were the more fierce, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place.” 6 When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked if the Man were a Galilean. 7 And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. 8 Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him. 9 Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing. 10 And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him. 11 Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate. 12 That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other, for previously they had been at enmity with each other. 13 Then Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, 14 said to them, “You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him; 15 no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him. 16 I will therefore chastise Him and release Him” 17 (for it was necessary for him to release one to them at the feast).18 And they all cried out at once, saying, “Away with this Man, and release to us Barabbas”— 19 who had been thrown into prison for a certain rebellion made in the city, and for murder. 20 Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them. 21 But they shouted, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” 22 Then he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go.” 23 But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed. 24 So Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested. 25 And he released to them the one they requested, who for rebellion and murder had been thrown into prison; but he delivered Jesus to their will.
Do you know what a ‘Kangaroo Court’ is? Have you ever personally been affected by this type of injustice. Regretfully, I have personally experienced Kangaroo Court hearings twice in my life.
A kangaroo court is a judicial tribunal or assembly that ignores recognized standards of law or justice, and often carries little or no official standing in the territory within which it resides. The term may also apply to a court held by a legitimate judicial authority who intentionally disregards the court's legal or ethical obligations.
Prejudicial biases of the decision-maker or from political decree are among the most publicized causes of kangaroo courts. Such proceedings are often held to give the appearance of a fair and just trial, even though the verdict has in reality already been decided before the trial has begun.
I am sure from what I have just explained you are realizing that our Holy Lord Jesus went through this same type of wrong treatment. Today we are going to look at these illegal judicial actions taken against our Precious and Holy Lord Jesus.
Let me try to put together what all the Gospel writers have recorded and from this information give you a break down on all the illegal actions taken against our Master and King Jesus Christ.
After our Lord Jesus was taken from the Garden Of Gethsemane He was brought to the former High Priest Annas. This man was replaced from his position by the Roman Government by his son-in-law Caiaphas. The reason He was first brought before Annas was due to the reason that the people still recognized Annas as the official High Priest instead of the Roman Government’s appointment of Caiaphas.
Our Lord Jesus was then brought to Caiaphas home where selected members of the Sanhedrin were also gathered. Here, false witnesses came forward to testify against our Lord Jesus. This illegal court gathering condemned our Lord Jesus to death on the charge of blasphemy. The next morning the Sanhedrin formally condemned our Lord Jesus in an attempt to make the previous evening’s procedures legal. Our Lord was then taken to the Roman Governor’s place who was Pontius Pilate. Before Pilate they changed their charge against our Holy Lord from Blasphemy to treason against the Roman Empire as Luke reports in chapter 23 of his Gospel, “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.”
Pilate initially desired to free the Lord Jesus but the people continued to push for His death. In a way to escape ruling on the fate of The Lord Jesus Pilate sent Him to Herod because Galilee was under his jurisdiction. Herod had desired for a long time to see Jesus personally and have Him perform some miracles for him. However our Great Master neither performed any miracles nor answered any of his questions. So Herod and his group in saving face decided to mock our Lord and then send Him back to Pilate.
Pilate again attempted to release The Lord Jesus because he knew that He was innocent. We read again from Luke what happened, “13 Then Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, 14 said to them, “You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him; 15 no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him.”
However, the religious leaders had stirred up their group and refused to go along with Pilate’s judgment. They wanted our Lord crucified. Because anyone crucified is ‘cursed’. Pilate gave into their desire and washed his hands of the whole matter.
The first wrong taken against our Lord Jesus was that He was arrested illegally. To avoid all the people who started to believe in Him, the Pharisees and High Priests were successful in capturing the Lord at night, sentencing Him before the people were aware of what happened and having Him put to death before anyone who was for the Lord Jesus could stop their evil actions.
In America we utilize many of the laws originally established by the Romans. That being so we learn that any trial may be dismissed as a mistrial or illegal if there is prejudice against the individual being tried on the part of those participating in the trial. The person accused must be given full recourse of the law to be able to sufficiently present his side. We all know that our Lord Jesus was arrested and tried by a group who planned to harm Him. His judges were the ones who bribed Judas to help them in their evil scheme. How could they in anyway be impartial in their judgment. When The Lord Jesus actually responded to a false charge these evil men never considered what He said. You remember when He answered this in verses 20 and 21 of chapter 18 of John’s Gospel, “Jesus answered him, “I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing.“Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said.”
Now if you were a lawyer for our Precious Lord Jesus then you would ask for dismissal because the one who turned the Lord over to these so called honorable men was Judas who was paid by the same men who are now the judge and jury. Then you have witnesses who heard Judas announce that he had betrayed an innocent man as the apostle Matthew pointed out, “Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!”
Judas confessed that He was a criminal and therefore those who bribed him would also be considered criminals, yet these were the men who were acting like they were upright and doing everything legally. Kind of sounds like today, doesn’t it?
To do a proper defense you would want to cross examine Judas but low and behold he is not available because he went and hung himself due to the guilt of his wrongdoing, “Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself. “
Right from the start the first trial before Annas was forbidden by the Talmud. It state that no session [which includes the possibility that it was only a fact finding session] was not allowed until after the offering of the morning sacrifice. Any attempt to minimize the reason for gathering the Sanhedrin was against the very Jewish laws that these men were to uphold. An accused man was never to be subjected to any private or secret examination.
So all in all the Sanhedrin’s so called examination of our Lord Jesus resulted in no evidence being found to use against our Precious Lord. Instead of dismissing the case, they proceeded to hold an illegal court. Since they wanted to kill our Lord Jesus He had to be convicted of a capital offense. The law required that those deciding the fate of the accused to be at their best mental state. This was determined to occur during the daylight hours. So, the whole hearing was illegal because it could not happen before the daylight. In addition, it was against the law to judge on the eve of the Sabbath or on any Holy Days. Our Lord Jesus was arrested on Passover evening which is the day before the First Day of Unleavened Bread – an annual Holy Day.,
According to the Mishna we learn that a criminal case resulting in the acquittal of the accused may terminate the same day on which the trial began. But if a sentence of death is to be pronounced, it cannot be concluded before the following day.
In a correctly conducted procedure, the evidence of the leading witnesses constituted the charge. But with the Lord Jesus, no witnesses – and therefore no charges – were presented at the outset of the proceedings. Those in opposition to our Lord Jesus, including those who would be in the court, they simply just arrested Him or you could really say –kidnapped Him!
Matthew reports this in chapter 26 of his Gospel, “59 Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, 60 but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses came forward 61 and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’?”
We see here that the Lord Jesus was indicted based on one statement from two witnesses without any supporting evidence.
The Lord Jesus did not say, ‘I am able to destroy this Temple’ [like He had a bomb and will blow it up.] He said, ‘Destroy this temple…’ Nor did He say ‘that is made with hands’. They lied in what He said. These two portrayed the Lord Jesus as planning to destroy the physical Temple. The stones used to build the Temple were massive and to give you a good e3xample of this the lightest weighed 5 tons. In not one court of law during this time on earth would a ridiculous comment like the false witnesses made ever be considered possible.
In fact you have to realize the resulting comments by the High Priest as Matthew points out in chapter 26 of his book. Please note that his question to our Lord totally is unrelated to the false charges, “62 And the high priest arose and said to Him, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” 63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!” 64 Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his clothes [which by the way is also illegal for him to do], saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! 66 What do you think?” They answered and said, “He is deserving of death.” 67 Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, 68 saying, “Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?”
Can you just imagine at the Great White Throne Judgment where these same individuals come before The Son of God for judgment and they remember their striking Him?
We see then that the charges of the two false witnesses are totally disregarded and that the High Priest and the Sanhedrin now went with the charge of Blasphemy. They knew however that the fundamental principle of law is that no one can bring an accusation against himself. Should a man make confession of guilt before a legal court such confession is not to be used against him unless properly attested by two other witnesses. I know that in the TV series Law and Order you have seen where a criminal finally admits that he committed the crime. What you overlook is that all the information that he confessed to is recorded on paper and the criminal signs the confession along with two of the police officers or other legal representatives.
Another thing which isn’t mentioned very much is the fact that all the Sanhedrin were not notified of the hearing. Luke sheds light on this in chapter 23 of his Gospel, “Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God. In these verse we get to understand that the High Priests and Pharisees only invited those who agreed with them.
Yet to me what is even more amazing is that through all these horrible actions taken by the representatives of the Jewish government, that in the long run the final charge of ‘Blasphemy’ was changed to ‘sedition’ when they finally got around to bring our Lord Jesus to Pontius Pilate. The charge brought against the defendant, before the court of the Sanhedrin, was “blasphemy against Jehovah." The criminal indictment brought against the defendant before Pilate and Herod, was "treason against the government of Rome."
28 Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. 29 Pilate then went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?” 30 They answered and said to him, “If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.” 31 Then Pilate said to them, “You take Him and judge Him according to your law.” Therefore the Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,” 32 that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.
Amazingly evil people exist in all time periods. We are fortunate to find information about Herod and Pilate. We read from an early church father Philo’s writings that Pilate’s life was filled with "corruptibility, violence, robberies, ill-treatment of the people, grievances, and continuous executions without even the form of a trial, and endless and intolerable cruelties."
In addition I would say from observation of the scriptures that "He was self-seeking and cowardly; able to perceive what was right, but without moral strength to follow it out."
After the Court of the Sanhedrin finished their job, they ordered our Lord Jesus to be sent to Pilate in order to have him affirm their judgment. But we read in the other Gospels that Pilate, the contemptible coward, fearing to do his duty and release our Lord Jesus even though He had decreed officially that our Lord Jesus was innocent, sent Him to Herod.
Herod Antipus, Tetrarch of Galilee, was the man before whom The Lord Jesus was now led to be judged. The pages of sacred history mention the name of no more shallow and contemptible character than this petty prince whose chief aim in life was the gratification of his passions. Herod opened the examination of Jesus by interrogating Him at length. The Son of God our Lord Jesus treated his insolent questions with contemptuous scorn and withering silence.
You note that Herod did not wind up making any judgment regarding our Lord Jesus. He and his cronies wound up mocking our Lord and then sent Him back to Pilate.
33 Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?” 36 Jesus answered, “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.” 37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” 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.” 38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.
Through his questioning Pilate knew that he was being set up by the Jewish rulers. In his mind he thought that he was between the rock and a hard place. Even his wife sent a message to him to beware of any judgment against this Holy Man - The Lord Jesus. So he came up with what he thought would be accepted by the Jews. He had in prison a man by the name of Barabbas which means ‘son of the father’ and now before him was One Who proclaimed that He Was ‘The Son of The Father’. He would leave it for the people to make the choice which he felt that they would choose the innocent man to be released.
39 “But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40 Then they all cried again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.
Matthew refers to Barabbas as a "notorious prisoner". Mark and Luke further refer to Barabbas as one involved in a riot, who committed murder. John refers to Barabbas as a "robber".
Some skeptics have stated that the story of Barabbas as related in the gospels lacks credibility from the Roman standpoint, as it presents the Roman authority, Pontius Pilate, backed by overwhelming military might, being cowed by a small crowd of unarmed civilians into releasing a prisoner condemned to death for insurrection against the Roman Empire. They insist that a Roman governor who had done that could have faced execution himself.
However, it is not so difficult for me to understand that Pilate would actually do all these things which our Precious Holy Spirit points out. History as indicated has shown how vicious and evil Pilate was. Because of his evil deeds he was on the hot seat in Caesar’s mind.
In chronicling the history of the Roman administrators in Judaea, ancient Jewish writers Philo and Josephus describe some of the other events and incidents that took place during Pilate's tenure. Both report that Pilate repeatedly caused near-insurrections among the Jews because of his insensitivity to Jewish customs.
Josephus notes that while Pilate's predecessors had respected Jewish customs by removing all images and effigies on their standards when entering Jerusalem, Pilate allowed his soldiers to bring them into the city at night. When the citizens of Jerusalem discovered these the following day, they appealed to Pilate to remove the ensigns of Caesar from the city. After five days of deliberation, Pilate had his soldiers surround the demonstrators, threatening them with death, which they were willing to accept rather than submit to desecration of Mosaic Law. Pilate finally removed the images.
Philo describes a later, similar incident in which Pilate was chastened by Emperor Tiberius after antagonizing the Jews by setting up gold-coated shields in Herod's Palace in Jerusalem. The shields were ostensibly to honor Tiberius, and this time did not contain engraved images. Philo writes that the shields were set up "not so much to honour Tiberius as to annoy the multitude". The Jews protested the installation of the shields at first to Pilate, and then, when he declined to remove them, by writing to Tiberius. Philo reports that upon reading the letters, Tiberius "wrote to Pilate with a host of reproaches and rebukes for his audacious violation of precedent and bade him at once take down the shields and have them transferred from the capital to Caesarea."
Josephus recounts another incident in which Pilate spent money from the Temple to build an aqueduct. Pilate had soldiers hidden in the crowd of Jews while addressing them and, when Jews again protested his actions he gave the signal for his soldiers to randomly attack, beat and kill – in an attempt to silence Jewish petitions.
In describing Pilate's personality, Philo writes in the 1st century that Pilate had "vindictiveness and furious temper", and was "naturally inflexible, a blend of self-will and relentlessness". Referring to Pilate's governance, Philo further describes "his corruption, and his acts of insolence, and his rapine, and his habit of insulting people, and his cruelty, and his continual murders of people untried and un-condemned, and his never ending, and gratuitous, and most grievous inhumanity".
Pilate's term as prefect of Judaea ended after an incident recounted by Josephus. A large group of Samaritans had been persuaded by an unnamed man to go to Mount Gerizim in order to see sacred artifacts allegedly buried by Moses. But at a village named Tirathana, before the crowd could ascend the mountain, Pilate sent in "a detachment of cavalry and heavy-armed infantry, who in an encounter with the first comers in the village slew some in a pitched battle and put the others to flight. Many prisoners were taken, of whom Pilate put to death the principal leaders and those who were most influential." The Samaritans then complained to Vitellius, Roman governor of Syria, who sent Pilate to Rome to explain his actions regarding this incident to Tiberius. However, by the time Pilate got to Rome, Tiberius had died.
Eusebius, quoting early apocryphal accounts, stated that Pilate suffered misfortune in the reign of Caligula (AD 37–41), was exiled to Gaul and eventually killed himself there in Vienne.