By Bill Cavender
The Bible records six different trials that Jesus endured after He was seized in the Garden of Gethsemane. There were three Jewish trials: (1) Before Annas (Jn. 18:13,24); (2) Before Caiaphas, aided by a group of priests and the Sanhedrin (Mt. 26:57-68; Mk. 14:53-65; Jn. 18:14-28); (3) Before the Sanhedrin, near the dawn of day (Mt. 27:1-2; Mk. 15:1; Lk. 22:66-71). Then there was the first trial before Pilate (Mt. 27:1-2; Mk. 15:1; Lk. 23:1-7; Jn. 18:28-32). Pilate acquitted Jesus; the Jews made further charges against Him, so Pilate sent Jesus to Herod upon learning that Jesus was of Galilee (Mt. 27:11-14; Mk. 15:2-5; Lk. 23:3-7; Jn. 18:33-38). Before Herod, Jesus was mocked but not condemned as being guilty (Lk. 23:6-12). Before Pilate the second time, Jesus was sentenced to death at the instigation of the Jewish rulers, and was taken away to be crucified.
During the two trials before Pilate, Jesus was proclaimed to be innocent seven times by Pilate, in Pilate’s words and action. Consider these, please:
1. After his first conversation with Jesus, Pilate said, “I find no fault in this man” (Jn. 18:29-38; Lk. 23:4).
2. After Jesus returned to Pilate from Herod, Pilate said, “Behold, I, having examined him before, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: No, nor yet Herod . . .” (Lk. 23:6-15).
3. After offering to release a prisoner to the Jews, and offering to scourge Jesus and then release Him, Luke records, “And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him . . .” (Lk. 23:22).
4. When he washed his hands before the multitude, declaring the innocence of Jesus, Pilate said, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person” (Mt. 27:24).
5. After Jesus had been mocked, whipped, and the robe put on Him, Pilate said, “Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him” (Jn. 19:4).
6. When Pilate gave permission for His crucifixion, he said, “Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him” (Jn. 19:6).
7. After Pilate learned of Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God, he talked with Jesus for the last time. John records, “Upon this Pilate sought to release him…” (Jn. 19:7-12), thus declaring, in fact, the innocence of Jesus for the seventh time.
Yet this moral coward, whose name has lived in infamy for, lo, these many centuries, delivered up to a felon’s death the only truly innocent man who ever lived on earth, the only one who truly and legally deserved to live and not to die.
But what of those moral cowards, men claiming to follow Him and to believe His claims and words, what of them? What is the difference between Pilate, the Roman, and John Doe, the Christian, who crucifies the Son of God afresh and puts Him to an open shame by sin, ugliness, bitterness, hatred, arrogance, transgression and apostasy (Heb. 6:4-8; 10:26-31)? What of them?
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 3, p. 67
February 7, 1985