Before the Sanhedrin, Jesus said nothing in His defense. Matt. 26:59-68 nor did He defend Himself before Pilate. Matthew 27:11-14, nor before King Herod Luke 23:8-9 “As a lamb is dumb before his shearers,” Isaiah 53:7 prophesies, “so He opened not His mouth.”
Jesus was not only silent before His accusers; but as far as His enemies were concerned, He was considered a nobody.
He who is the “Holy One,” Isaiah 1:4, Acts 3:14
He who is the “Prince of Life,” Acts 3:15
He who is the Creator of all things, John 1:1-5
He who is the “God of glory, full of grace and truth”, John 1:14
He “before whom every knee shall bow” Philippians 2:5-11 was considered a nobody.
At His trial before Pilate and the Jewish crowds, He was considered a nameless nobody. Repeatedly they referred to Jesus as “this man”. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”
But even worse, they considered Jesus even less than a nameless, anonymous man. He was treated as “the scum of society”. Psalm 22:6 and Isaiah 53:3 prophesied Him as “a worm and no man”.
This fickle crowd who called for Jesus’ crucifixion; just a week earlier were lauding Him as their coming King as He rode on a colt, the foal of a donkey in His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
From midnight when He was betrayed and arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane until AM, He had endured a six hours of blasphemy, beatings, hard punches and slaps, leaving Him bloody and, no doubt, with blackened eyes and spittle on His face.
But don’t lose sight of this amazing fact. God, through the blasphemy and murderous desires of the people, was accomplishing His goal of crucifying His beloved Son as His required blood sacrifice for the sins of the world, just at the day and hour that lambs were being slaughtered throughout Palestine for the Passover Feast. Read Isaiah 53:10
They all knew His name, Jesus. the name that means, “He shall save His people from their sins.” But they rejected Jesus as their Saviour from sin and thus refused to acknowledge Him by that precious name. Instead, they continually referred to Him scornfully as “this man”.
It was about 6:00 o’clock in the morning. The crowds were gathering at the Judgment Hall of Pilate. The cry of the people of “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!” has changed to a growing thunderous roar of “Crucify Him!”
Do you see the fickleness of crowds? How easily they are manipulated by Satan’s henchmen! How wrong they are!
Young people, understand that crowds are always wrong! They are wrong concerning values. They are wrong regarding music and entertainment. The masses of humanity are on the road to Hell, Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14. To stand for Jesus and do right, you will always have to buck or go against the crowd.
The crowd hated Jesus. They did not cry for Pilate to kill Him. They cried out to Crucify Him, that is, torture Jesus. Crucifixion is probably the worst form or torture man has ever devised. The prisoner, naked or clothed with a loin cloth, is stretched out on a cross on the ground. Huge spikes are driven into his stretched out wrists and feet. Then the cross is raised upright and dropped into a hole in the ground with a thud. We cannot even begin to imagine the torment.
Stretched out on that cross for hours, the victim strains on the nails to raise his body up so he can grasp some air in his lungs. Finally the victim has no more strength to rise up on the nails and he gradually suffocates.
That’s what this crowd wanted for Jesus. Led by the venomous religious leaders, their admiration for Him has turned to vile hatred and they want Him tortured and crucified.
How about you? Have you by faith received Jesus as your Saviour or do you still reject Him? We all had a part in the crucifixion of Christ. It was because of our sins that He suffered and died on the cross. If you are still rejecting Him Hebrews 6:4-6 explains that you are as guilty of crucifying Jesus as those who called for His crucifixion 2000 years ago. On the other hand, if you receive Christ as your Savior, Peter in Acts 3:11-19 teaches that He will forgive your sins and save your soul.
What will you do with Jesus? We cannot be neutral. We either receive Him as Saviour, or reject Him and face His condemnation. That condemnation is described in Revelation 20:11-15. Will you trust Him this moment? There’s no promise of any future opportunity to be saved. Now is the day of salvation!
There never has been such a travesty of justice in all of history as the trial of Jesus. Betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane by Judas, His disciple; Jesus was arrested by the Sanhedrin and the temple guards and whisked off to the temple court of Annas the High Priest and his son-in-law, Caiaphas, to be tried in the middle of the night, even though the Law of Moses required trials to occur only between sun up and sun down.
It was a mockery of a trial that Jesus faced before the murderous Sanhedrin, who mocked Him and slapped Him and punched Him and spit in His face, treating Him with utter contempt.
The decision to execute Jesus had already been determined by the Jewish religious leaders a week earlier after Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. That miracle catapulted Jesus to fame throughout the region and the Jews were ready to make Jesus their King.
The chief priests and Pharisees hated Jesus for His public exposure of their hypocrisy. They wanted Him dead. Their main concern was to present to Pilate, the Roman governor of Palestine, a capital charge against Jesus that would insure His execution. They quickly settled on a charge that Jesus was guilty of blasphemy for claiming to be the Son of God. However, knowing such a charge would not concern Pilate, the Roman governor of Palestine; they switched the charges to insurrection against the Roman Empire for stirring up the people. Pilate surely would be concerned about that since it was his responsibility to keep peace in Palestine.
Pilate interviewed Jesus and quickly became convinced that He was innocent of the charge of the Sanhedrin. As they pressed their charges, they let it slip that He had ministered in Galilee. Pilate, knowing that Herod had jurisdiction there, immediately took the opportunity to pass off his responsibility to Herod, who happened to be in Jerusalem at the time.
Jesus was rushed to King Herod who also attempted to try Him by asking questions. Jesus answered him nothing and refused to perform miracles for him as he had requested. Finally, Herod became disgusted and sent Jesus back to Pilate, mocking Him as “King of the Jews”, clothed in one of his royal robes
All of this we have discussed in the previous three articles in this series. Let’s move on now to Jesus’ second appearance before Pilate. As Jesus arrived, Pilate ushered Him into the Judgment Hall for a private interview with Him. You can read that interview in John 18:33-38.
Pilate’s first question to Jesus was simply, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
You can read Jesus’ answer to his question. Then Jesus followed up by explaining His Kingdom. He explained to Pilate in verse 36 that “His Kingdom was not of this world, (this cosmos or world system).” If that had been the case, Jesus’ servants would have fought against those who arrested Him and He would have won a decisive victory!
Those Christians who believe that Jesus is presently building His Kingdom in this present age ought to take another look at what Jesus said to Pilate. “My Kingdom is not of this world system.” Jesus is not presently building His political Kingdom in this world today. Rather He is building His spiritual Kingdom in the hearts of those who have been redeemed and have surrendered to His Lordship.
Rather, this world today is under Satan who is the god of this present age, according to II Corinthians 4:4.
One day Jesus is returning to set up His Millennial Kingdom on this earth. You can read about that in my series on PROPHESY on this web site.
Continuing the conversation between Pilate and Jesus, Pilate asked, “Are you then a King?”
Jesus answered Him, (and I will amplify His answer so you get the connection.) “For this cause was I born and came into this Satan-dominated world system living under Satan’s lies, to bear witness of the Truth.”
When Jesus mentioned the word TRUTH, Pilate immediately asked, “WHAT IS TRUTH?” Pilate, a typical existentialist plagued with the same question that has been asked down through the centuries, asked, “What is Truth”?
Pilate believed, as every existentialist that there is no ultimate final truth. He believed, as every existentialist, that “truth is relative. Each of us must find our own idea of truth.” This is the reasoning of every pseudo, would-be intellectual.
As existentialists today, Pilate did not wait for Jesus to answer his question. He wasn’t interested in Jesus’ answer. He was already convinced that there was no ultimate answer.
I believe that if Pilate had really wanted Jesus’ answer, Jesus would have given it to Him. He would have said to him as He said in John 14:6 “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man comes to the Father but by Me.” But Pilate did not wait for Jesus’ answer.
Instead, he turned away from Jesus and went out to face His accusers. In the moments that followed three times Pilate announced that Jesus was innocent of any capital offense. You’ll find those three “NOT GUILTY” verdicts in Luke 23:4, 14 and 22. In John 18:38 Pilate decisively declared, “I find in Him no fault at all!”
The innocent Jesus who had been majestically silent before His accusers was found guilty by the Jewish Sanhedrin, but innocent by Pilate and his wife, and also by Herod, we read in Luke 23:14-15.
Now Jesus stood before Pilate one final time. Pilate was under tremendous political pressure. If He let Jesus go, he would be reported to Caesar and could well lose his position as Governor of Palestine. If he pronounced Him guilty, for the rest of his life he would live with the fact that he sentenced an innocent man to the executioners. This was the trial of Pilate’s life.
As was Pilate’s custom at the Passover each year, that to please the Jews he would release one guilty of a capital offense. This year the insurrectionist and murder, Barabbas, was in prison awaiting crucifixion. Pilate, not wanting to execute an innocent man, offered the Jews a choice.
He called out to the angry mob, “Whom shall I free, Jesus or Barabbas?” The people answered without a pause, Free Barabbas and crucify Jesus!”
Pilate cried out in despair, “Why Jesus? What evil has He done?”
The people did not answer with any charge against Jesus. They just cried out mindlessly and more vehemently, “Crucify Jesus!”
At this time, Pilate’s wife came out to Pilate and whispered to him, “Have nothing to do with this just man. I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of Him.”
Finally, Pilate had a wash basin of water brought to him and in the presence of the angry mob, he washed his hands and said, “I am innocent of the blood of this just man: see ye to it.” Of course, this symbolic gesture did not free Pilate of His guilt.
Listen now to the chilling words of the Jews in response to Pilate. They cried out, “His blood be upon us and our children!” The Jews were saying, we accept the guilt of crucifying Jesus and they have experienced the pain of living under that guilt now for over 2000 years.
But let me be quick to add that all of us, Jews and Gentiles, are responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. The Jews are no more guilty than we are. It was our sins for which He paid the penalty of death.
Although God used the Roman soldiers and the Jewish mob, to bring about the crucifixion of Jesus, ultimately it was God’s love for us as sinners that caused Him to send His Son into the world and pay the death penalty for us. God the Father ultimately brought about the death of His Son for our sins.
You can read that amazing truth in Isaiah 53:4-10 and Acts 2:22-24. God the Father literally forsook His Son as He hung dying on the cross, and Jesus cried out in agony, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
Would you thank God right now for sending His Son Jesus into this world as a man, to die in your place for your sins? If you refuse this gracious Gift of God, you must one day stand before the Great White Throne Judgment, described in Revelation 20:11-15 and face this same Jesus who will condemn you, along with all Christ rejecters to eternity in Hell.
Will you receive Him as your Saviour now, or will you one day face Him as your judge?
One final point. Three years later in 36 AD, Pilate was exiled to Gaul and committed suicide.
My father and mother were missionaries in Peru, South America, when Dad died in a car accident. I was four and my younger brother, David, was one when he died, leaving my mother a widow at the age of 27, To read the story of his short life and death go to the link below and scroll to chapter 11.
Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin was a mockery as they charged Jesus, God in human flesh, with blasphemy. Pilate refused to hear the Sanhedrin’s religious issues concerning Jesus, so they changed the charge against Jesus to insurrection against the Roman Empire. Even that charge did not hold water. Pilate found Jesus innocent. Three times Pilate proclaimed Jesus innocent of such charges. Read them in Luke 23:4, 14 and 22.
The furious Sanhedrin, intent on killing Jesus, continued speaking to Pilate about Jesus insurrection in Galilee. Pilate immediately realized he had a way out; send Jesus to King Herod who had jurisdiction in Galilee. King Herod was in his palace in Jerusalem at the time, so the murderous crowd rushed Jesus over to his palace to be charged.
WHO WAS THIS HEROD?
This Herod to whom Jesus was brought for trial was Herod Antipas. He was one of four sons of Herod the Great. Herod the Great had been king at the time of Jesus’ birth. You may remember that this Herod ordered the slaying of all infants two years of age and younger in Bethlehem and the surrounding area. He hoped to kill Jesus, whose birth was heralded as the future King of the Jews. By killing the babies, Herod hoped to kill any future competition to his throne.
You may remember that an angel warned Joseph to flee to Egypt with Mary, his wife and the young child, Jesus. Later, when news came that Herod the Great had died; then Joseph brought back his little family to his home in Nazereth.
Herod the Great had four sons to whom he divided his kingdom. Two of them were Philip and Herod Antipatros, or Antipas for short. It meant the son who followed his father. Herod Antipas ruled in Galilee and Perea from 4 AD to 39 AD.
Herod Philip was married to Herodius, his niece. When Herod Antipas visited his brother Philip, he decided to steal Herodius for himself and divorce his wife. So now Herod Antipas was married to Philip’s niece which was also his niece. Nice guy, this Herod who was guilty of incest, divorce, adultery and soon murder!
When John the Baptist preached that what Herod was doing was unlawful before God, Herod had him thrown into prison. Later, at a birthday party for Herod, Salome, Herodius’ daughter by a former marriage danced for him. He was so intoxicated by wine and lust for her that he promised her half of his kingdom. In keeping with her mother’s wishes, she declined the gift and asked for the head of John the Baptist instead.
Herod immediately ordered the beheading of John the Baptist and his head was brought to Herodius on a charger, (a large meat platter).
So this is the Herod to whom Jesus was brought for trial very early in the morning.
HOW DID HEROD ANTIPAS RELATE TO JESUS?
On at least three occasions Jesus and Herod are mentioned.
1. In Mark 6:20 we learn that when Herod heard about Jesus, his first thought was that he must be John the Baptist whom he had beheaded, now resurrected from the dead. His guilty conscience must not have allowed him to ever forget the John the Baptist he had executed to please his consort.
2. On another occasion the Pharisees who hated Jesus, warned him that He had better flee the region since Herod was after Him. The Pharisees were not concerned with Jesus’ safety. They hated Him and wanted Him dead. Jesus scorned Herod, calling him a fox and He let the Pharisees know that He had no intentions of fleeing the region as He had to fulfill His ministry there.
3. This trial of Jesus before Herod was the third opportunity for Herod to interact with Jesus. The Sanhedrin had brought Jesus before him to be tried. Jesus, bruised and bloody, with His eyes, no doubt, blackened from the beatings, and His face covered with spittle He had received from them; stood before Herod in silence. Herod charged Him to work some miracles; to do some of His magic tricks. He wanted to be entertained. Jesus stood in silence before Herod.
The Prophet Isaiah in his prophecy, Isaiah 52:13-14, describes His appearance at this time as “marred more than any man.”
Finally, Herod, in disgust, had a royal robe placed on Him, as he mocked Jesus as a king. From there the Sanhedrin led Jesus back to Pilate. What was Herod’s verdict against Jesus? In Luke 23:14-15 both Pilate and Herod were agreed that Jesus was innocent of all charges.
Incidentally, Luke 23:12 tells us that Pilate and Herod became friends that day. Their friendship was based on their common hatred for the intimidating Jews they were being forced to please.
I don’t think that Pilate or Herod had any hatred for Jesus. It was just a total indifference and rejection of Him, even as people today ignore and reject Christ and remain lost in their sins and condemned to Hell.
Herod’s verdict of not guilty agreed with Pilate’s identical verdict. God’s Word reveals this truth, that in the mouth of two witnesses as Deuteronomy 19:15 required, Jesus was confirmed not guilty of any crime worthy of death.
SO WHO KILLED JESUS?
At the hands of the Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod, and the Roman soldiers, God killed His own Son, Jesus, as a blood sacrifice in payment for the sins of the whole world. Those who receive that sacrifice by faith are forgiven of their sins and declared Not Guilty before God. Those who reject Christ and His blood sacrifice, are Guilty and must pay the death penalty for their own sins, which is eternal death in Hell. Do you receive or reject that blood Sacrifice for your sins? On the answer to that question hangs your eternal destiny in Heaven or in Hell.