WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
APRIL 2, 2021
TOPIC: INNOCENT AS CHARGED, YET CONDEMNED TO DEATH
BY T. O. BANSO
“Then some rose up and bore false witness against Him, saying, ‘We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.’ But not even then did their testimony agree” (Mark 14:57-59 New King James Version).
At the commencement of Jesus’ trial, there were no charges against Him. It was after His arraignment that the Council started looking for false witnesses and their testimonies didn’t agree! Then, they got two witnesses who claimed Jesus said He was able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild in three days another made without hands. But they didn’t provide any proof.
The Council erred because there were no charges to start with as demanded by the ancient Hebrew law. The law said the trial could only start when the witnesses came forward with a charge.
According to Mark’s account, the testimony of some false witnesses against Jesus failed to agree. “Then some rose up and bore false witness against Him, saying, ‘We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.’ But not even then did their testimony agree” (Mark 14:57-59 New King James Version). Matthew 26:59-61 also records this false accusation.
Nevertheless, Caiaphas the High priest, asked Jesus to defend Himself. This was illegal. The moment the witnesses contradicted each other, the law said the Council should dismiss the case, and discharge and acquit the accused. Caiaphas was wrong to have asked Jesus to defend Himself. Apparently, Jesus knew the law and, therefore, kept silent.
In any case, the charge against Jesus was a lie. The witnesses claimed Jesus said, “I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands” (Mark 14:58 New King James Version). It’s a lie. Jesus never said so. They misquoted Him.
Hear what Jesus said: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19 New King James Version). Did you notice the difference between what they claimed Jesus said and what He said? Please read it again. Jesus was talking about His body, referring to His death and resurrection, not the physical temple. He didn’t say He would destroy and build another without hands.
Those witnesses were not witnesses of truth. The Council ought to have dismissed the case and discharged and acquitted Jesus. In fact, they should have punished the false witnesses if not that they sponsored them. These liars didn’t rehearse their script well!
The ancient Hebrew law frowned at false witnesses. Part of the Ten Commandments is not to bear false witness against one’s neighbor (Exodus 20:16; Deuteronomy 5:20). Unfortunately, not only did the Council or the Sanhedrin tolerate it, it promoted it. Judges looking for false witnesses against an accused before them!
They had to drop the charge concerning the temple, and, contrary to the law, acted as the prosecutor and brought their own charge of blasphemy against Jesus. Asked by Caiaphas if He was Christ, the Son of God, Jesus confirmed He was (Matthew 26:63). Caiaphas called that blasphemy and they condemned Him to death for that. Blasphemy!
Nevertheless, the punishment for blasphemy was to stone to death anyone found guilty of it (Leviticus 24:15-16). That was why the first Christian martyr, Stephen, was stoned to death (Acts 6:9-15; 7:59). But the conspirators were ignorant that Jesus must die on the cross when they planned He must be crucified, rather than stone Him to death for blasphemy which they claimed He was guilty of.
Ignorantly fulfilling the scriptures, the religious leaders apparently wanted to hide under the authority of Rome to kill Him. However, their charge of blasphemy would not interest Pilate because it had nothing to do with the Roman government. Therefore, they brought Him before Pilate with new charges on treason (Matthew 27:1,2,11-14; Mark 15:2-5; Luke 23:2-5; John 18:29-38). Unfortunately, they couldn’t convince Pilate. They didn’t provide any evidence (Matthew 27:24; Luke 23:4, 14, 22; John 19:6b).
In the ancient Hebrew legal system, the Council could not make a charge against an accused brought before it. That was for the witnesses. But in Jesus’ case, the Council turned itself to a prosecutor and brought Jesus before Pilate on false charges.
They said, “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King” (Luke 23:2 New King James Version). They reinforced their charges against Jesus by saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place” (verse 5 New King James Version).
Jesus never perverted the nation of Israel or led the Jews to ruin, forbidding paying taxes to Caesar. Jesus never incited the people against the Roman government. On the contrary, when the question about the payment of tax was brought to Him, Jesus knew they wanted to trap Him.
After requesting a coin and asking whose picture was there and they told Him, He said, “Give to Caesar what belongs to him. But everything that belongs to God must be given to God” (Matthew 22:2 New Living Translation). His reply amazed them, and they went away. On the tax accusation, the Council didn’t provide any evidence against Jesus.
On the charge that Jesus said He was Christ, a King, they were only being wicked; He wasn’t an earthly king. The Jews had for long been awaiting the Messiah. Jesus actually was (is) the Messiah, but not the type of Messiah (Christ) the Jews were awaiting. They were looking for a political Messiah who would deliver them from Roman domination.
Jesus never publicly identified Himself as the Messiah. Until His triumphant entry to Jerusalem and trial before the Sanhedrin and Pilate, He only showed Himself as the Messiah privately to His disciples (Matthew 26:63-64; Mark 14:61-62; Luke 22:67-70). In Matthew 16:16, Simon Peter answered Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (New King James Version).
Jesus then told Peter that flesh and blood had not revealed this to him, but His Father in heaven. Mark 8:30 says Jesus strictly warned His disciples that they should tell no one about Him being the Messiah.
So Jesus never went about telling people He was Christ the King. Rather, Jesus allowed His work to speak for Him. He went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38). The only other time He confirmed to anyone that He was the Messiah was when He spoke with a woman of Samaria at Jacob’s well (John 4:25-26).
Jesus was wrongly accused of treason. He didn’t engage in treachery, subversion, or sedition. Neither did He promote it. In fact, John 6:15 said when Jesus perceived that people were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone (John 6:15). If Jesus were interested in rebellion against Rome, He would have seized that opportunity.
That was why when Pilate asked Him privately if He was the King of the Jews, Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36 New King James Version).
Pilate asked Him further, “Are You a king then?” (John 18:37a New King James Version). Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37b New King James Version).
Pilate didn’t find Jesus guilty. He knew the charges against Him were lies. But he lacked the courage to do the right thing. Eventually, after they had arm twisted and blackmailed Pilate, he handed Jesus over to them to be crucified on an unproven charge of treason – that Jesus called Himself the King of the Jews (Matthew 27:29, 37).
Jesus is not the King of the Jews; He is the Saviour of the world. Hallelujah! He was crucified, but He resurrected! Praise God!
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, thank You for sending Jesus Christ to save the world from sin and hellfire. Holy Spirit, help every child of God to proclaim the love of God to sinners. Cause every sinner to respond to the love of God by giving His/her life to Jesus Christ. Holy Spirit, give all the children of God the courage to speak the truth always and stand for the truth.
(For about 600 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit: www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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