Readings & Reflections on Jesus’ Trial from Luke 22:66-23:25
Good Friday is about the suffering & death of Jesus
– It is the day Jesus’ suffering comes to a head
– Jesus’ suffering was undeserved and yet he accepted it with humility & grace
Following Jesus’ agony and arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane he was taken away for a series of trials
– After a night in the courtyard of the high priest, where he was mocked & beaten by the temple guards, Jesus was brought before the Jewish elders
– We pick up the story from Luke chapter 22, verse 66
66 When day came, the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law met together, and Jesus was brought before the Council. 67 “Tell us,” they said, “are you the Messiah?”
He answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me; 68 and if I ask you a question, you will not answer. 69 But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right side of Almighty God.”
70 They all said, “Are you, then, the Son of God?”
He answered them, “You say that I am.”
71 And they said, “We don’t need any witnesses! We ourselves have heard what he said!”
Luke’s account places an emphasis on Jesus’ innocence
– Despite all the miracles Jesus has performed and despite all the reasoning Jesus has provided, the Jewish Council refuse to believe that Jesus is God’s Messiah, their King
– They have already made up their mind to kill Jesus and are simply gathering ammunition to use against him
Jesus knows this but he doesn’t deny his true identity to save himself
– To the contrary he takes it a few steps further and essentially says he is a lot closer to the Almighty in heaven than they realise – at God’s right side no less
– Jesus has intentionally played into their hands – he is embracing the suffering of the cross in obedience to God the Father
The Jewish Council can’t believe their luck, they think they have all the ammunition they need for a conviction of blasphemy
– Blasphemy is when someone says or does something which shows contempt or disrespect for God – it was a really big deal to ancient Jews
– Of course it’s only blasphemy if it’s not true & Jesus has spoken the truth
– The irony is, the Jewish Council are the ones who are guilty of blasphemy – they have insulted God by rejecting His Son
The Jewish Council don’t have freedom to kill Jesus on their own terms, they have to get permission from Pilate, the Roman governor
– Blasphemy is not a crime under Roman law but sedition is
– If they can convince Pilate that Jesus is a rival king stirring up trouble then Pilate might agree to execute Jesus
– But Pilate isn’t buying it – after questioning Jesus he concludes…
– “I find no reason to condemn this man”
– In Pilate’s estimation Jesus is innocent – but the Jewish Council insisted even more strongly so, to avoid responsibility, Pilate sent Jesus to Herod.
8 Herod was very pleased when he saw Jesus, because he had heard about him and had been wanting to see him for a long time. He was hoping to see Jesus perform some miracle. 9 So Herod asked Jesus many questions, but Jesus made no answer.
10 The chief priests and the teachers of the Law stepped forward and made strong accusations against Jesus. 11 Herod and his soldiers made fun of Jesus and treated him with contempt; then they put a fine robe on him and sent him back to Pilate.
Herod wanted to be entertained by Jesus
- – He wanted Jesus to perform some miracle, like a party trick, but Jesus does not respond – in fact Jesus remains completely silent
- – In the end Herod makes his own fun by dressing Jesus up in royal robes and mocking him
- – Clearly Herod does not believe Jesus is a threat
- – As far as Herod is concerned the Jewish Council’s charges of sedition are a joke and Jesus is innocent
Pilate is different to Herod – Pilate is more professional, more respectful. Pilate has a conscience. From verse 13 read…
13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought this man to me and said that he was misleading the people. Now, I have examined him here in your presence, and I have not found him guilty of any of the crimes you accuse him of. 15 Nor did Herod find him guilty, for he sent him back to us. There is nothing this man has done to deserve death. 16 So I will have him whipped and let him go.”
18 The whole crowd cried out, “Kill him! Set Barabbas free for us!” (19 Barabbas had been put in prison for a riot that had taken place in the city, and for murder.)
20 Pilate wanted to set Jesus free, so he appealed to the crowd again. 21 But they shouted back, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
22 Pilate said to them the third time, “But what crime has he committed? I cannot find anything he has done to deserve death! I will have him whipped and set him free.”
23 But they kept on shouting at the top of their voices that Jesus should be crucified, and finally their shouting succeeded. 24 So Pilate passed the sentence on Jesus that they were asking for.
Clearly Jesus was innocent – consequently Pilate did his best to see justice was done by releasing Jesus, but he failed (despite multiple attempts)
- – Although Jesus could have defended himself he didn’t – Jesus chose instead to embrace the cross in obedience to God
The Jewish Council treated Jesus with open hostility
- – Herod didn’t take Jesus seriously
- – And Pilate tried to save Jesus
- – But Jesus accepted his suffering with humility & grace
Let us pray…
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, when taken away you did not resist
When mocked and falsely accused you remained silent
When questioned as to your identity you responded with truth
When condemned you did not justify yourself
When we face injustice grant us wisdom to know when to speak and when to be silent
And when we collude with injustice grant us the conscience to repent
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God have mercy on us. Amen.
Questions for discussion or reflection
1.) What stands out for you in reading this Scripture and/or in listening to the sermon?
2.) What does Luke emphasise in his account of Jesus’ trial?
– How does Luke do this?
3.) What temptations do you think Jesus may have faced during his trial(s) on Good Friday?
4.) Jesus did not deny his true identity to save himself. Why do you think Jesus gave the Jewish Council the ammunition they needed to condemn him?
5.) What is blasphemy?
– How did the Jewish Council (and Herod) unwittingly commit blasphemy?
– What are some of the ways that blasphemy might express itself today?
6.) Why do you think Jesus had nothing to say to Herod?
– When is it right for us to speak up and when is it right to remain silent?
7.) Jesus embraced the suffering of the cross because it was God’s will for him. How might we know when suffering is God’s will for us and when it isn’t?
8.) The Jewish Council treated Jesus with open hostility, Herod didn’t take Jesus seriously and Pilate tried to save Jesus. None of these are ideal responses to Jesus. Can you think of some other better responses?