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JESUS’ TRIAL

Luke 22:63-23:25
Key Verse: 22:69

Have you ever stood in the court? I have done once before because of a traffic ticket. I had a photo of my violation and went to plead guilty. I could receive discounted fine and points. Even minor offense need fair process. The famous symbol of justice used in courts called Lady Justice holds balance scales in her left hand and sword in her right hand, wearing a blindfold. Blindfold means objectivity of justice regardless of power, money, and identity. Similarly, the meaning of scale and sword represent the weighing of evidence and punishment, respectively. However, today’s passage shows that Jesus was condemned without any objectivity and evidence. It happened because darkness ruled the time according to the last week’s message. Jesus’ trial shows well about man’s wickedness to stand against him. In the trial, Jesus spoke a little. But the words he spoke are truly life giving that everyone should hold on to. May God lead each of us to grasp the meaning of Jesus’ trial deeply and personally.

Firstly, Jesus was insulted. V 63-65. “The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded “Prophesy, Who hit you?” They mocked him more and said many other insulting things to him. Mocking and insulting of Jesus is described in all four gospels but Luke’s description is slightly different from other gospels. For instance, Mark and Matthew briefly included this part after the high priest charged Jesus for blasphemy. But, Luke described that even before any charge was given, he was mocked, beaten and insulted, emphasizing one aspect of Jesus’ suffering in the trial. The guards blindfolded him to make him more fearful. They treated him like a criminal and made fun of him. In this way, Jesus experienced pain not only physically but also emotionally. He received contempt.

Insulting words are not easy to bear. How do you respond when you hear them? In 2006 German World Cup final game between France and Italy, Italy beat France 5 to 3 in the penalty shootout. France played well in overtime and people expected France would win; however, France top player Zidane got a red card because he headbutted an Italian player. In his absence and with one less players, France finally lost the game. People wondered why Zidane did such action in this important game, why he could not control himself until the game is over. Later, it was found out that the Italian player spoke several insulting words to him about his family. It provoked his anger and retaliated with headbutt.

Likewise, verbal abuse easily agitates us and triggers anger. It also greatly harms one’s life as we see how cyber bully with harassment, mean and threatening words can destroy one’s life critically. People like to hear encouraging words not abusing words which harm our dignity and emotional life.

However, Jesus received all kinds of verbal abuse as if he was a felon. The guards insulted him for his human background, appearance and runaway disciples. How was Jesus’ response? He silently bore it. He did not retaliate them. He could make the guards mute but did not. He heard and bore all kinds insulting words. Isaiah 53:7 says “he was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth” Peter said about this Jesus in 1 Peter 2:23 “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”

Let us think of Jesus who bore his affliction. What is the meaning of his affliction? Jesus already prophesied that he would be mocked and insulted. (Luke 18:32) But from the prophecy of Isaiah, we can find answers about the meaning of his affliction. It says “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isa. 53:5). Jesus was inflicted to give us healing in him. He bore painful insults in order to heal our wounds. We have deep wounds in our hearts coming from our own affliction. We also often say insulting words to ourselves. So we all need Jesus’ healing. As we know, Nick Vujicic who is a Christian evangelist and motivational speaker was born without arms and legs. In his teens, he was bullied due to his appearance and he was deeply wounded. But he was healed through Jesus who bore all kinds of insults for him. His body was same but when his heart was healed in Jesus, he was different. He now lives very influential life as Jesus’ witness to many people. We also think that Jesus heals our wounds because he understands us. One missionary named Damien went to a leper’s village to help them. But, they did not open their hearts to him because they thought he can’t understand them. So, he prayed that he may become like them. Finally, he was also caught with leprosy. Then, people accepted him. Jesus was insulted and mocked in many ways so that he could understand all kinds of our wounds. So, let us look at Jesus who was afflicted for us. We may have healing in our heart in him. Praise Jesus!

Secondly, Jesus’ trial before the counsel of the Sanhedrin. After Jesus was mocked, he was led before the council of the elders of the people at daybreak. They asked “If you are the Christ, tell us” Their question was not to know who Jesus is because Jesus already revealed himself to them through his works and words. They wanted to accuse him for blasphemy. What was Jesus’ answer? “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer” Jesus pointed out their heart problem- unbelief and stubbornness. Their unbelief was because they saw Jesus from the worldly view, which is human background. They rejected Jesus based on their own standard rather than God’s words. Apostle Paul also said that he once regarded Christ from a worldly point of view (2 Corinthian 5:16). Due to their crooked view of Jesus, they missed the crucial chance of knowing Christ.

Jesus said further. “From now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.” This verse is from Psalm 110:1, the messianic psalm which was very familiar to them, “The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." Through this word, Jesus revealed two important truth about him. First, Jesus sits at the right hand of God. It shows Jesus’ power and authority as judge. At that time, religious leaders, Pilate and Herod sit on the judge seat in their earthly courtrooms which do not support the truth. Using their own authority and power, they exercised unjust judgment. However, Jesus revealed that there is the heavenly courtroom which our eternal judge Jesus sits in. All mankind must stand before him one by one without exception. He judges based on the truth which is himself. “From now on,” means our immediate self examination before going to stand before him. In the heavenly court, our trial examines our relationship with Jesus. In this world, there are many kinds of law cases which relate to finance, crime, family, etc. But in Jesus’ courtroom, we will be evaluated based on our personal relationship with him. That trial is the real one. Jesus said “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” (Luke 12:5) Peter was once afraid of people and disowned Jesus. But he later boldly protested Jesus before the same religious leaders because he depended on Jesus who sits on the heavenly throne.

Second, Jesus sits on the throne because of the mighty God. Jesus’ suffering and death seems like the victory of the evil. Wicked people thought that they won over Jesus with their own human power and authority. But God raised Jesus from the dead and made him sit on his right hand. The mighty God brought victory to Jesus. The mighty God controls to reveal his justice and power even when the evil prevails. He rules the world in his way to lift Jesus’ name high as Christ and Lord for us. In the troublesome and painful trial, Jesus was filled with God’s hope and power.

V 70-71. After listening to Jesus, they all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” Jesus replied “You are right in saying I am.” Jesus knew what would be a result of his answer. But, he clearly revealed his identity. To the end, Jesus tried to help them to have a right view on Jesus. But what was their response? “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.” Then whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. In this way, they rejected Jesus although they learned from the old prophets in the scripture and heard from John the Baptist, and even from Christ his own lips.

Thirdly, Jesus’ trial before Pilate.“We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king.” Jesus was accused for three things. Subverting the nation, opposition of payment of taxes, claim of a king. Their charges were obviously wrong. For instance, Jesus said regarding the tax issue “give to Caesar what is Caesars” (Luke 20:25) However, they tried to accuse him as a political criminal against Rome.

Pilate asked “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied “Yes, it is as you say” When he heard Jesus’ answer, he was convinced that the charges on him were nothing to do with political issue. He announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I found no basis for charges against this man”. However, they insisted that Jesus stirred up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here. When Pilate heard that Jesus was a Galilean, he sent him to Herod who ruled Judea and was in Jerusalem at that time. He wanted to avoid any responsibility in this matter.

When Pilate heard that Jesus is the king of the Jews, he should go further examination. He could sense that Jesus was innocent, but he did not go deeper into the depth of Jesus’ innocence as Christ. If he did so, he could have encountered Jesus as his king personally. So Luke addressed in chapter 1 the importance of careful investigation to know certainty of the things about Christ. In this passage, Pilate tried to show his favor on Jesus with good objectivity. However, when he did not hold onto Jesus’ words firmly, he could not but surrender people’s persistent demand in the end.

Fourthly, Jesus’ trial before Herod. Jesus was led to Herod. When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased because for a long time, he had been wanting to see him. From what he had been hearing about him, he hoped to see Jesus perform some miracle. Jesus’ trial before Herod was uniquely included in Luke’s gospel. Who is Herod? He is the king who beheaded John the Baptist after John rebuked his immoral life since he took his brother’s wife as his. After killing John, he was haunted. His conscience was stricken but he did not repent. He merely lived his pleasure seeking life to overcome his inner troubles. Herod wanted to see Jesus. To him, it could have been the greatest moment to repent his sins and seek God’s salvation. However, he expected eye pleasing performance from Jesus. With his wrong motive, he missed the crucial moment of his life. Although he plied Jesus with many questions, he gave him no answer. It is interesting to see Jesus’ silence to Herod unlike his response to religious leaders and Pilate. It shows that Herod’s many questions were not relevant to his salvation at all. It helps us to think what could be the most important question for us. That is about who Jesus is. So, Jesus answered only to questions about his identity. Questioning about Christ is an essential that one must have. It is because we have to answer before going to his kingdom.

The chief priests and teachers of the law stood there, vehemently accusing Jesus. Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him, dressing up Jesus with elegant robe and sent him back to Pilate. That day, Herod and Pilate became friends – before this, they had been enemies. Luke commented how Herod and Pilate became friends due to Jesus’ trial. They stood against Jesus together after hearing all accusation against Jesus. Act 4:27 says “Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed.”

In our days, people’s respond to Jesus are also similar. Like religious leaders, some people reject him despite obvious evidence as Christ. Some are like Pilate and think Jesus is good but not more than that. They do not want to know him deeper. Still others are like Herod and expect enjoyable things from Jesus not himself. May God help us to know Christ more personally.

Fifthly, Jesus’ final sentence. Pilate called together the chief priest, the rulers and the people. “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. 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. Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.” Pilate’s decision was to release Jesus. However, in order to appease the crowd, he said he would punish Jesus before releasing him.

But people demanded Pilate more and more. With one voice they cried out, "Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!" (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.). Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate spoke the third time “"Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him." But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to accept their demand.

Here, we could see how his decision was revoked. People demanded more and more to let him sentence Jesus to be crucified. Crucifixion was the cruelest means of execution. They thought that through hanging him on the tree, he could be expressed as the one who received God’s curse.

To the increasing demand of people, Pilate repeatedly spoke “no basis or grounds for your charges against him” Based on Roman’ law, the charges were invalid. However, he accepted the crowd’s demand. The basis of his revoke was due to people’s insistent demand. But fundamentally, the ground of his revoke was because he had no truth, no Jesus who can hold him in such unrighteous demand. Living before God in ungodly atmosphere is challenging particularly when people’s unrighteous demanding increases. At this time, we may hold onto the word of the truth and to Jesus who stands firmly in God without compromise.

Jesus was condemned to be crucified. However, through his death sentence, one man named Barabbas was released instead. He was a criminal who waited for his crucifixion. To the Roman law, he should be kept in prison for punishment. However, Barabbas was released in place of Jesus. The notorious criminal and innocent Jesus had totally opposite fate. This shows how the grace of Jesus is effective in us. His death releases people from death penalty. He received condemnation to set us free from our condemnation. His suffering and mistreatment was to give us freedom from our own death penalty.Jesus said "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lords favor." As Barabbas was greatly favored because of Jesus, those who believe in Jesus receive same favor regardless of what they have done.

In this passage, Jesus bore mocking, mistreatment and unjust condemnation. He is the one who bore such treatment for us. In the book of Exodus, when Israelites worshipped idol, Moses asked God to forgive them. He even asked that God may remove his name from the book of life in order for Israelites to be forgiven. He wanted to be atoned for his people. But God did not allow because there is the only one can atone for our sins, that is Jesus. Great man like Moses can not atone for others. Jesus came and bore all trials for us to give us his grace of forgiveness and salvation. Now, Jesus is the one who is sitting at the right hand of the mighty God. Innocent Jesus was mocked, trialed and sentenced to death. All his suffering is the firm basis of our healing and grace.

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