We all remember courtroom trials when the bad guy got away or the good guy got sent away.
It irks us.
Occasionally a judge is paid off or a jury is manipulated or evidence is suppressed, and a murderer walks. It’s wrong, and infuriating.
In many ways it’s worse when they put the wrong guy in jail, though, especially if his accusers frame him because of envy or greed, or to protect their reputations.
There’s no court case that can rival this one, however.
They put the holy and innocent and completely righteous Son of God on trial and pronounced him guilty.
No greater travesty ever occurred.
And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. . . . Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’ ” Yet even about this their testimony did not agree. And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows (Mark 14:53, 55-65).
You’ve probably heard all the reasons this trial was a sham.
Trials couldn’t be held at night, and verdicts in capital cases couldn’t be reached until the second day. Witnesses must be warned to relate only true, firsthand testimony. Trials couldn’t be held in the palace of the high priest. And so on.
That’s just a sample of the laws that were broken when they put God on trial.
But that’s not the worst part.
Jesus never sinned, not once. He never fell short in the slightest way, and he was being tried by people who had made a mockery of God’s law.
Imagine the scene: sinners accuse God of a crime worthy of death. People who deserved to die pronounce a death sentence on the One who would die to save his accusers.
Throughout the whole ordeal Jesus stood firm.
He never wavered, using the expression “I am” perhaps to identify himself with the divine name of Exodus 3:14 (“I am who I am”).
What was the worst part of the cross for Jesus?
Was it a Judas’ betrayal?
His friends’ abandonment?
Or was it perhaps hearing people he loved lie and cheat and blaspheme so they’d have some kind of pretense to execute him?
It’s interesting, though. Jesus was tried and declared guilty so he could declare us innocent.
The innocent received the death penalty so the guilty could walk.
You’ll never find a prettier picture of grace.