Summary: The trial & torture of Jesus reveal the extent to which Jesus was willing to go to carry out the plan of redemption, and teach rich doctrinal truths about the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. This sermon explores those truths, and imagines a retrial of Jesus today.
Sermon 3: Jesus’ Trial and Torture
82 Hours: Countdown to the Resurrection
Preaching April 7, 2019
NOTE: A PowerPoint presentation is available for this sermon by request at email@example.com.
Skeleton outline, the idea of a retrial for Jesus, and some other elements are borrowed from David Dykes’ sermon, The Trial And Torture Of The King, on SermonCentral.com. The rest is all my fault.
TEXT: Please turn in your Bibles to Mark 15.
The right to a fair trial is a cherished American freedom.
Illus. – A cowboy who lived in the Wild West days was arrested for stealing horses.
The judge said, “You are accused as a horse thief, how do you plead?”
The old cowboy said, “Not guilty, Your Honor!”
The judge said, “Alright then. You have a choice: You can be tried by a panel of three judges or by a jury of twelve of your peers.”
The cowboy said, “I don’t understand that word ‘peers.’ Who would they be?”
The judge explained, “A jury of your peers means people just like you.”
The cowboy thought for a second and said, “I’ll take the judges. I don’t want twelve horse-thieves judging me!”
Jesus was not given a fair trial. In fact, it was one of the great legal travesties in history.
Just three weeks from Easter in our series titled 82 Hours, a walk with Jesus from the Last Supper to Jesus’s resurrection, we want to examine the trial and torture of Jesus and see what we can learn from it.
I. FIRST, IN VERSES 1-5, WE SEE SILENCE: AN INNOCENT MAN FALSELY ACCUSED – And immediately in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and they bound Jesus, and led him away, and delivered him over to Pilate. 2 And Pilate asked him, Are you the King of the Jews? And he answered and said to him, ‘You said it.” 3 And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing. 4 And 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.
Jesus’ trial had both a Jewish and a Roman phase, fleshed out in more detail in the other gospels. After His agony in Gethsemane, Jesus was betrayed by Judas, arrested and bound by temple officers, and carried Him to the house of Caiaphas, the high priest. The 23 members of the Jewish Sanhedrin were summoned from their beds to conduct a hasty trial for this rabble-rouser, Jesus.
Because trials at night were illegal, this was nothing but a kangaroo court. False witnesses were found to testify against Him, while He was not afforded the right to call witnesses in His favor or to cross-examine His accusers.
But Jesus would not have called any even if He had been given the opportunity, for silence is the primary thing you notice about Jesus during both phases of His trials. Caiaphas accused Him of blasphemy, and Jesus said nothing in His defense, so the Sanhedrin gave Him the predetermined verdict—guilty and deserving death.
Only the Romans could issue a death sentence, so early the next morning, Jesus was taken to Pilate, the Roman governor representing Caesar. As before, in the Sanhedrin, the most notable feature about this encounter before Pilate was Jesus’s silence in His defense. Three times in this passage, we find the phrase, “Jesus answered nothing”—in verses 3,4, and 5. It’s not that He didn’t answer ANY of Pilate’s questions, but that He answered nothing in His defense.
In fact, He complicated His case. When Pilate asked, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You said it” which most interpreters understand Him as meaning, “It is as you say.” So, Jesus wasn’t taking the fifth here; He was admitting to the one crime that actually justified the death penalty of all the charges brought before him—the treasonous crime of usurping Caesar by claiming to be a king. Right here, Jesus could have avoided torture and the cross that was to come. But He said nothing in His defense. He gave Pilate the one legal excuse He needed to execute Jesus.
Look again at verse 3: “And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing.” In the face of these withering accusations, Jesus did not even say another word. He didn’t try to defend Himself; He was silent before His false accusers.
This was in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy found in Isaiah 53:7 – “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, Yet he opened not his mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”