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Home arrow Daniel arrow Luke 22:63-23:25: The Trials of Jesus
Luke 22:63-23:25: The Trials of Jesus Print E-mail
Sunday, 24 November 2013

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Seven hundred years before Good Friday dawned, Isaiah wrote about Jesus’ trials: He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth (Isaiah 53:7).  The Suffering Servant would suffer in silence, not that He would not say a word (Jesus does at least speak at points), but that He would not open His mouth in defense.  Jesus, the fulfillment of the Suffering Servant, was willing to be led to slaughter.  He was willing to subject Himself to the injustice that takes place at His trials and ultimately at the cross.  He does not open His mouth to protest the complete lack of justice that happens on Good Friday.

Before the trials begin, Luke tells us one further detail about what took place during Jesus’ final night, which is also a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:7.  Look at verses 63-65.  Jesus is being ‘oppressed’ and ‘afflicted’ by those who are holding Him captive.  They are mocking Him by playing games with Him and blaspheming Him by doubting that He is truly a prophet.  The irony in this is that they are actually fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy about what would happen to Him in Jerusalem, that He would be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon (18:32).  They doubt He is a prophet while fulfilling His prophecy.  Again, we see that all that is happening to Jesus is part of God’s plan.  He has come to Jerusalem to suffer and die.  As dawn breaks on Good Friday, we see the trials of Jesus begin.  Let’s look at these together.

The trial before the Jewish Council (v. 66-71)

The other Gospels teach us that Jesus appeared before Annas (John 18:13) and Caiaphas (Matthew 26:57ff) during His final night.  Yet, the official Jewish trial could not begin until day-break according to their Law, which is what we read about in Luke.  His account includes their question about Jesus’ identity.  Look at verses 66-67a.  They want to know if Jesus thinks He is the Christ, or the Messiah.  He answers in verses 67b-69.  Look at those verses with me.  Why does Jesus not answer their question directly? 

The problem lies in their understanding of the Messiah.  They thought the Messiah was going to immediately throw off Roman rule and be King over the Jews in a political sense.  They did not think that Jesus was this Messiah, but if He said that He was they could turn Him over to the Romans as a threat to their rule.  But this is not what Jesus has come to do.  He has come to be the true Messiah, the One who will deliver His people not just from political oppression but from their spiritual oppression.  Yet, if He told them that again, He knows they will not believe it.  This is why He answers the way that He does.  Rather, He tells them that the Son of Man will soon be seated at the right hand of the Father. 

After His death and resurrection, Jesus would ascend to Heaven to sit at the Father’s side.  This is an amazing claim and the leaders want to know if Jesus is saying that this applies to Him.  When He affirms that He is the true Son of God, even though they do not understand that either, they believe that He has blasphemed in claiming to be divine and that He is worthy of death. They are not interested in the truth about Jesus, they just want Him to say something that they can use against Him.  Their unbelief has hardened their hearts against the truth.

The trial before Pilate (v. 1-5)

John tells us that the Jews were unable to have Jesus killed (John 18:31), so they take Him to Pilate, the Roman prefect who was probably in Jerusalem at this time for the Passover.  Look at their accusations in verses 1-2.  It is obvious that the Jews were not above giving false testimony about Jesus.  He had plainly taught that taxes should be paid to Caesar (20:19-26).  It was the last charge that caught Pilate’s attention, so he goes on to ask Jesus if He is really the king of the Jews.  Look at verse 3. 

We once again might wonder why Jesus answers in the way that He does.  We know that He is indeed the King of the Jews.  The problem is that Pilate is only concerned about political kings.  Jesus has not come to set up an earthly kingdom.  Yet, He is the King of the Jews, not in the way that Pilate is asking, but still the King.  This is why He answers in the way that He does.  So how will Pilate respond to Jesus’ answer?  Look at verses 4-5.  Pilate pronounces Jesus innocent.  This should have been the end of the trials.  But the Jewish leadership persisted.  And when they brought up the fact that Jesus was from Galilee, Pilate decided to send Him to Herod, who was in charge of that jurisdiction.

The trial before Herod (v. 6-12)

Herod wanted to see Jesus, but for all of the wrong reasons.  Look at verses 6-8.  Herod had heard about Jesus and all of the miracles that He had performed.  Perhaps he had heard about the feeding of the 5,000 or the healing of lepers or the raising of Lazarus.  He was eager to meet the man who had supposedly done all these things.  He was hoping that He would do something like that in front of him.  But that is not what happens.  Look at verse 9. 

Jesus does not even speak to Herod.  Don’t you know this infuriated the man?  It also infuriated the Jews as well.  Look at how they respond in verses 10-12.  The Jews wanted Jesus to incriminate Himself and Herod wanted to see a sign, but in fulfillment of Isaiah 53:7, Jesus said nothing.  He made no defense and He gave no sign.  So Herod decided to have some fun with Him anyway by having Him beaten and dressed up like a king.  He mocked Jesus and held Him in contempt.  Things did not go like he wanted them to go but at least he made friends with Pilate.  After he is done trying to get Jesus to talk, he sends Him back to Pilate.

The second trial before Pilate (v. 13-25)

Once again Pilate declares that Jesus is innocent.  Look at verses 13-16.  Not only did Pilate find Him innocent, but Herod did as well.  Pilate knows that the accusations that the Jews are bringing against Jesus are not true.  He tells them plainly: Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him.  Again, this should be the end of the trials.  Pilate suggests just having Jesus beaten (for no real reason) and believes that should satisfy the Jews.

But they are not satisfied.  Look at verses 18-19.  It was traditional for Pilate to release a prisoner during Passover.  The Jewish leadership does not want Jesus to be released, so they ask for the release of Barabbas and convince the crowd to do the same.  The irony of this is that Barabbas was in fact guilty of doing the things that they were claiming that Jesus did.  He had misled the people and challenged the authority of Rome.  In fact, he was even a murderer.  He deserved to be in prison and Jesus was innocent.  Yet, they wanted the criminal released and the innocent man killed.  The situation only gets worse.  Look at verses 20-22. 

The crowd is turning into a mob and they are crying out for blood.  They want Jesus to be crucified.  Pilate tries to talk to them but they shout him down.  One final time he proclaims that Jesus is innocent and that he is going to simply punish him and release him.  But the crowd persists.  Look at verses 23-25.  Pilate has repeatedly declared Jesus as not deserving death, but their voices prevailed.  And what did Pilate do?  He gave in and granted their demand.  He released Barabbas, the murderer, and delivered Jesus over to their will.

The trials of Jesus are a complete mockery of justice.  Yet, the various responses that we see to Jesus along the way are still happening today.  The soldiers made fun of Jesus as they beat Him and told Him to prophesy.  Some people still respond to Jesus with such mockery.  They make fun of those who believe in a crucified Savior.  They see no relevance in what He did for their lives today.  So they just laugh and play games.  The Jewish leaders were blinded by their unbelief and it hardened their hearts.  They had heard the truth about Jesus over and over again, but they were unwilling to listen.  They could not believe that He was the Christ or the Son of God.  And their unbelief turned ugly.  We should note that this is not because they were Jewish. 

Some have used this passage to try and support anti-Semitism, but that is an ugly misunderstanding of this text.  The issue is not their nationality, but the fact that these particular leaders were unwilling to believe.  Many today make the same mistake concerning Jesus.  They have heard the truth over and over again but they have hardened their hearts against Him.  Herod only wanted a sign.  He wanted Jesus to perform, to grant his requests for a miracle.  Some are still waiting for Jesus to do that.  They want Him to heal or to provide and then they will believe in Him.  They want one more sign before they bend the knee.  Pilate was more concerned about popular opinion than he was standing for the truth.  He knew Jesus was innocent, but he wanted to keep the people happy, so he had Him crucified.  Some today are more interested in what people think about them than they are about what God thinks of them.  They willingly trade the truth to please the crowd.  What about you?  Are you making any of these mistakes in your response to Jesus?  Turn from your sins and believe in Him today.

Why should you believe in Him?  Why should you bow the knee to Him?  Because you are Barabbas.  Jesus did not just take his place on Good Friday, He took yours.  We are the guilty ones.  We are the ones who have committed crimes against a Holy God.  And we are rightfully in chains, enslaved to our own passions.  But glory be to God, He has sent His Son to take our place.  The prison doors have been opened and the chains are gone.  And all the punishment that we deserved for our sins has been placed on the only innocent man who has ever lived.  I get this picture of Barabbas being led out of his cell, having the shackles taken from his hands and feet, and being told, ‘You are free to go.’  All the while, Jesus is standing there bloodied and bruised from the beatings He has already endured.  And even though Barabbas probably never understood what took place, I do.  I know that it should have been me.  It should have been me.  He took my beatings, bore my cross, and endured the wrath that I deserved.  It should have been me, but Jesus took my place.

Our Savior stood before His accusers and offered no defense.  He opened not His mouth before those who were determined to see Him crucified.  Why?  Because this was His plan to redeem us.  It was not just the will of the people that Pilate was following.  Ultimately, it was the will of God that led Christ to the cross.  As Isaiah tells us: Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief (Isaiah 53:10).  It was the Lord’s plan to send us Jesus, the innocent Lamb of God, who would suffer at the hands of wicked men and lay down His life for our sins.  He is worthy of all our praise and all our devotion.  Amen.  

~ William Marshall ~


Last Updated ( Saturday, 25 January 2014 )

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