The Trinity in the life of Jesus part 12: The Trial

In the trial of Jesus, we can assume God the Father and God the Holy Spirit were silently alongside Jesus, giving him comfort and assurance during this difficult time. But what we may not have seen is that they were also active in the trial, making sure God’s only son was condemned to death. The Gospels record that Jesus was arrested at night and taken to the high priest’s home where the leading priests, other leaders, and teachers of religious law had gathered. Here, they accused Jesus of many things and couldn’t get their story straight. The gospels record differing phrases of Jesus during this time, but agree that it was his affirmation as being the Son of God that condemned Him to death.[1] The chief priests then took Jesus to the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate in the morning, since only Roman authorities were permitted to execute (John 18:31). Pilate had difficulty seeing why Jesus needed to be condemned to death, and tried to barter with the Jews by giving them a choice—to release Jesus or Barabbas. But the crowds demanded the notorious criminal and murderer Barabbas. We ponder at the mob’s choice. Why would they choose a murderer over Jesus? Mark and Luke make the distinction that Barabbas had taken part in an insurrection against the government. Perhaps he was seen as a hero to the Jews and was unjustly condemned; therefore, with pent up emotion, they finally had their chance to release him. Whatever the case, the Father couldn’t let the crowds choose Jesus to be released. The time of the fulfillment of prophecy—the plan of salvation—had come. We could go on and debate whether the Holy Spirit spoke to the crowds to release Barabbas or whether He spoke to Pilate to give the crowds a choice of which He already knew the outcome; or whether instead of The Holy Spirit, God the Father allowed Satan to speak to the crowds and to Pilate. In any case, we can see the work of the Father and Holy Spirit making sure Jesus was condemned for crucifixion. “Jesus probably would have been treated differently by Pontius Pilate had he been a Roman citizen. In any case, his lack of citizenship made it easier for Pilate to give in to Jesus’ opponents.”[2] Since Jesus was not a Roman citizen, Pilate did not have to go through the rigmarole of Roman court proceedings for something that he did not see as a crime and something which did not involve Rome. This probably satisfied the Jewish authorities to get the trial and crucifixion moving and done with before the evening’s festivities, and thus, was in line with the Father’s timing of Jesus’ death and the slaughtering of the Passover lamb.[3] Jesus was now officially condemned to death. In doing so, Pilate washed his hands of the matter, yet satisfied the Jews by giving them their wishes. This, as well as Pilate sending Jesus to Herod Agrippa, could have been a successful political maneuver on his part. On the other hand, by washing his hands of the issue, Pilate could have also heeded the warnings in his wife’s dream.[4] There is no mention of what the dream was, specifically. Matthew only records that Pilate’s wife had a nightmare about Jesus, and we can presume by her words that it attested to Jesus as being innocent (Matt. 27:19). She probably did not know about Jesus, much less about the trial in advance—nor did Pilate; so the dream was not a fluke. The dream would have happened about the time of Jesus’ arrest and trial with the Sanhedrin. It can be easily deduced that the Holy Spirit gave her that dream. A closer look into the trial of Jesus shows us that while we like to build awful characters out of Judas, Pilate and the Jewish authorities, we must remember that it was actually God the Father who condemned his own son to death. The Holy Spirit and Jesus himself acted in obedience to the Father.

[1] Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic), 168-170.
[2] James Jeffers, The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic). 198.
[4] Jeffers. 127, 132.

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