Thursday, April 17, 2014
by Mike Robinson
During the time of Christ, there were three chief categories of testimony according to the Mishnah: irrelevant or useless testimony, a standing testimony, and a satisfactory testimony. The irrelevant testimony was rejected. The standing testimony was accepted if and when it was confirmed. The satisfactory testimony was based on the agreed testimony of two or three witnesses. The testimony collected in the trials of Jesus was inadmissible since it was irrelevant testimony (Mark 14:56).
Jesus had two primary trials (Jewish ecclesiastical and Roman criminal) and numerous legal proceedings within each. The ecclesiastical trial yielded a conviction of blasphemy. The Roman trial never produced a guilty verdict but ended with the death sentence for Christ. Pilate declared that Jesus was innocent (John 18:29-30). Jesus was initially brought to Pilate without formal charges since Rome would not accept a Jewish blasphemy charge for indictment. The elders and Pilate came together together, trying to come up with a charge that would stick—one that was within the jurisdiction of Roman law. They tried various accusations; finally they charged Christ with treason against Caesar and Rome. They misrepresented Christ’s view on taxes and kingship: “We have found this man subverting the nation… He opposes taxes to Caesar … and claims to be a king” (Luke 23:2). Jesus was a target of religious persecution and Roman injustice, but was completely innocent. (see book here). Pilate sentenced Christ to die by crucifixion (John 19:16), even though he declared Him guiltless (Luke 23:14-22).
Christ was executed without a Roman verdict of guilt; nonetheless He was crucified for religious reasons. The Jewish leaders insisted: “We have a law, and according to that law He must die, because He claimed to be the Son of God” (John 19:5-7). Jesus was killed because Temple authorities asserted that He was guilty of blasphemy. Additional charges were raised because the Jewish leaders knew that Pilate would never approve an execution on a point of religious law. Other charges that fell short of indictment were: Jesus’ threat to destroy the Temple (a misunderstanding of His body metaphor); subverting Caesar; prohibiting the payment of taxes to Rome; inciting rebellion; and claiming to be a king. Perhaps Pilate allowed the unjust sentence to be carried out in fearful deference to Caesar, but, criminally, the chief reason for the crucifixion was not for tax prohibition (Bill O’Reilly) or revolutionary ideas (Reza Aslan). Christ was crucified for blasphemy (John 19:5-7).
Moreover, atonement for sins was the supreme reason for the execution of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53; John 3:15-19; Romans 3:20-26, 4:5; Titus 3:4-7). Jesus died to atone for the sins of men and to set them free.
He who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification (Romans 4:25).
Jesus is the vicarious substitution since He died for our sins on our behalf. Christ was offered in place of us. Jesus accomplished that which we could simply not. He vicariously stood in our place and bore our sins on the cross as He made propitiation for our sins.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10).
Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed (Romans 3:25).
To see fresh insights into the arrest, trial, and killing of Jesus Christ see my new book Killing Christ HERE. It looks at the death of Christ using ancient Jewish and Roman sources. In it, the reader discovers how the story of the killing of Jesus is at once transcendent, historical, and religious, yet true truth.