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John Moore
October 10, 2022 | Inspirational | John Moore

The Week of the Cross – A Sham Trial

(“Christ before Pilate” by Mihály Munkácsy, 1881 from Wikipedia)

We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life. His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples. In this final week, Jesus predicts his death by crucifixion in two days. This is followed by the details of the sham trial to be conducted by the religious leaders to trap and murder Jesus. Now Jesus makes two shocking predictions – the one who will betray Him, and the one who will deny knowing him! If ever a spiritual movement looked destined for failure, it would be this last week of Jesus – the leader killed, the followings betraying Him or denying him as they scatter. Three shock waves in this final week. Now the cross is in full view and we see Jesus in preparation for his death and the final desertions and betrayals, and unjust conviction of Jesus.

21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.  “Barabbas,” they answered.  22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.  They all answered, “Crucify him!”  23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”  24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”  25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”  26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. Matthew 27:21-26.

1. Nothing about Justice. Jesus, having now predicted his death numerous times during his life, and predicted his betrayal by Israel and even the desertion of the disciples, now faces a mob trial, really a mob lynching that only wanted to pass the sniff test of Roman approval. Despite pressure from the mob, and from his wife, he attempts to skirt his responsibility – though in sham fashion, not in reality. He released Barabbas and turned Jesus over to the mob, after a beating – all of which was punishment applied to innocent Jesus.

2. Everything about Hatred. Pilate, to his credit, warned the crowd, it is your responsibility. Without hesitation, the crowd said, let his blood be on us and on our children. Short of redemption, how true those words were to those who hated and escorted him to the cross.

3. Affirmation without Equivocation. Jesus only had six words in his defense at his trial.  ‘Yes, it is as you say’, to the question, are you the king of the Jews?  While the crowd considered this heresy, in fact, it was Truth.  Predicted as far back as the garden of Eden, affirmed as he entered Jerusalem on a donkey, and proclaimed as the Prince of Peace and Son of God. 

In sum, nothing about the gospel and the Christian message is attractive or powerful on its surface. If we are looking for physical, financial, or status standing, Jesus is not the answer. But if we understand that we were created by God to be in relationship with Him, and to both love him, and learn to follow the Kingdom with all of our heart, and soul, and mind, and live among others loving them even as God has loved us, then Jesus and the Christian message is for you, and for me. As we follow Jesus to the cross in the next few weeks, spend some time in quiet meditation about the gratitude we have for God who has redeemed us and given us the deepest purposes in life. Best to you this week.


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