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Monday, April 6, 2009


J. Grant Swank, Jr.

Within l2 hours prior to His death on the cross, Jesus was literally dragged through 7 trial courts: once before the retired high priest, Annas; once before the son-in-law of Annas, Caiaphas, the latter serving as high priest; once before the Sanhedrin, the highest tribunal in Jerusalem with the high priest as president of such; once before Herod Antipas; then twice before the Roman procurator, Pilate.

At least l0 reversible errors occurred during this fiasco in injustice.

1. It was against Jewish law to initiate legal procedure on a Jewish Sabbath or on a feast day. This regulation was obviously violated as Jesus was arrested on the Passover Feast Day.

2. No legal procedure could be begun during the night of a trial which was to take place before the Sanhedrin. Jesus was taken as a criminal around midnight on that Thursday--consequently this rule was broken.

3. The Sanhedrin had no jurisdiction concerning capital punishment situations. The Jewish court had been divested of that authority some 40 years prior by the Romans.

4. It was legally wrong for High Priest Caiaphas to have served as judge when he had publicly proclaimed, before the trial itself, that Jesus deserved to die. Caiaphas should have disqualified himself in that he evidently revealed his bias in the case. Jesus was confronted with 6 trial courts prior to the crucifixion. However, there was a seventh trial of Jesus.

5. Caiaphas, serving as judge, should not have tried to press Jesus to confess. This was an attempt to coerce a conviction by the accused's own confession without having supporting evidence. Such violation of law infringed on the person's guarantees against self-incrimination.

6. The Sanhedrin had not convened for a regular meeting, therefore the group was not actually in formal session, and consequently was without legal power.

7. The Roman Empire stipulated that trials were to be public; the grilling before Annas and Caiaphas were held in private, so were legal errors.

8. Jesus was appointed no lawyer. He had no legal counsel. If He Himself could not have provided one, then the political system was under obligation to provide Him with one but no lawyer was given Jesus.

9. It was not legal for the Sanhedrin Court to convict an individual on the same day of the trial. The Court could acquit on the same day but it had to wait at least two days for a verdict of guilty concerning capital punishment cases.

10. Procurator Pilate, having taken the position that Jesus was in fact not guilty, erred in allowing the crazed mob to win out with their verdict of guilty. The judgment on evidence was overruled by the insistence of the mob.

Jesus was confronted with 6 trial courts prior to the crucifixion. However, there was a seventh trial of Jesus. This latter was conducted in the courts of heaven before the Judge Father. Six is the number of man, but 7 is the number of deity. And deity had the last sentence--the sentence of innocent/victory--in the dedicated life of the Son. The Supreme Court of Eternity pronounced Jesus free from guilt.

Then why was it that Jesus had to undergo such injustice?

In part, to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies. For example in Ps 35:ll there is the prophecy that He will be maltreated, spat upon and the hair of His beard plucked.

In Isa 50:6 and 53:5 there are the predictions that He will be beaten with stripes.

In 53:7-9 it is foretold that He will be condemned and oppressed as well as mercilessly maligned.

Yet through it all, the providence was at work to yield the verdict of the seventh trial court in heaven: innocent/victory.

The personal application for the believer is to trust the same God to be at work just as meticulously in His bringing triumph out of trial. Can the Christian have faith in God to believe that through the injustices of life in the dedicated believer's days there will finally be victory in light of eternity?

Corrie ten Boom wrote, "Sometimes it is difficult to understand the secret of God's plan for this world. But one thing I know: God did not make a mistake when He drew His eternal blueprint. God never makes mistakes. He knows exactly what He is doing."

Then she tells of how she and her sister, Betsy, in the Nazi concentration camp, prayed that God would heal Betsy who was so weak and sick. Betsy had said with confidence, "Yes, the Lord will heal me."

But she died the next day and Corrie could not understand it.

When she viewed Betsy's thin body on the concrete floor along with all the other corpses of those who had died that day, it was hard to understand, to believe that God would have a purpose for all that.

But she says, "Yet because of Betsy's death, today I am traveling all over the world telling people about Jesus. . .Now every place I go across the world, people tell me how much they love my sister, Betsy. . .She is a blessing for more people because she died than if she had lived.

"God makes no mistakes."