First of all, we have to be convinced that God is sovereign in human affairs. You’ll recall that not long after this when the early apostles were put on trial by this very Sanhedrin that condemned Jesus, they stood the test because they said that God is sovereign. They knew that God was sovereign in the crucifixion of Jesus, and that he had demonstrated it by the resurrection of the dead. Therefore, he who was sovereign in the affairs of the life of their Master was sovereign in their affairs, too. Since God is sovereign they could trust God for the working out of the details.
I suppose there are a lot of lessons at that point, but one obvious lesson is that we cannot stand in the great crises of life successfully and do the right thing apart from the help of God himself. You see, Pilate had everything going for him. He was the governor, after all. He had the legions of Roman soldiers at his call to do what he wanted. If he decided that Jesus was innocent and had had the courage to stand by that, why, nobody could have touched Jesus. He could have kept him from any harm. Besides all this, he was even warned, and yet he failed.
The second thing about his conduct as the Gospels report it, in addition to his opening the case, is that he conducted the trial in a manner utterly above reproach. According to Roman law you first of all had to have an accusation. There had to be a formal charge, meaning you couldn’t simply have a fishing expedition to find something to accuse someone of. That’s what the Jewish court had tried to do the night before. You couldn’t do that in a Roman court of law. And, of course, you weren’t supposed to do it in a Jewish court of law either. There had to be a formal charge, and finally they made it.
I have titled this study “Jesus and Pilate: God in the Dock.” That word dock is a British term which refers to the box in which the accused stands during the conduct of his trial in a British court. So “God in the Dock” means that God has subjected himself to human judgment.
Our study of the encounters that the Lord Jesus Christ had with the people of his day has lastly brought us to the story of the trial of Jesus conducted by the Roman governor Pilate. There were actually two trials. There was the Jewish trial and the Roman trial, and each of those trials had three parts. So there were six segments of the trial leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. All of this was squeezed into a very short span of time.
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