Lessons From The Illegal Trial Of Jesus And Unjust Persecution

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It is written:

Isaiah 53:8 (ERV)-He was taken away by force and judged unfairly. The people of his time did not even notice that he was killed. But he was put to death for the sins of his people.

One thing that I love about Jesus is that He understands what it is like to be judged unfairly. During His time in the world, He was continually attacked and mocked by those who hated Him without a just cause. It was prophesied in the Old Testament that He would be treated in this way throughout His life:

Psalm 69:12-Those who sit in the gate speak against me, And I am the song of the drunkards.

Missler has well noted about this Psalm:

“Psalm 69 portrays a man at the end of himself, weary and full of grief, feeling the rejection of his fellow men even as he sought to serve God with all of his heart. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me. Psalm 69: 9 When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach. Psalm 69: 10 I made sackcloth also my garment; and I became a proverb to them. Psalm 69: 11 Can you imagine the child Jesus growing up in a small Jewish village where everybody else believed Mary’s first son was illegitimate? Small towns are not known for their gentleness in such matters, and it was probably tough for Mary, too. . . . Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication . . . John 8: 41 They that sit in the gate speak against me; and I was the song of the drunkards. Psalm 69: 12 Even the drunkards down at the local tavern made up songs about him. David wrote this psalm many hundreds of years before his son (and Lord) Jesus was born, yet he describes the rejection and mistreatment of the Messiah with the personal edge of grief. The attacks on Jesus lasted throughout His entire life, from childhood through to His death. Even Jesus’ own brother and sisters didn’t believe in Him. Of course, eventually they understood who His Father really was, and Jesus’ brothers James and Jude, who were listed in Mark 6: 3, most likely wrote the books of the New Testament that bear their names. It took His death and resurrection, though, to convince them. Most of us are aware of the pain Jesus suffered on the Cross. We have teachings and illustrations of His passion. We see it in movies and hear about it in sermons. We know from the American Medical Association that crucifixion was surely one of the most agonizing, painful forms of execution ever invented by man. But I think our Lord endured 33 years of suffering that we haven’t even thought about.” (Dr Chuck Missler, Footprints of the Messiah, 734-753 (Kindle Edition); Coeur d’Alene, ID; Koinonia House)

A life of being judged unjustly…that is what Jesus endured.

Yet the culmination of this was seen in Jesus’ arrest and “trial.”

Notice a few of the illegal actions which took place during Jesus’ horrific arrest and illegal trial. One lawyer, Earle L. Wingo, wrote an in-depth review of these events.

Notice some of the things which he observed in his analysis.

“A study of both the Hebrew and Roman trials will establish beyond any doubt that Jesus was not given even the remotest semblance of a legal trial. On the contrary, He was the victim of an unholy, mob rule persecution, which resulted in His murder…. A careful analysis of all the Jewish laws in existence when Jesus was tried brings one to the conclusion that the entire proceedings were a mockery. Every protective law was ignored when dealing with Jesus.“ (Earle L. Wingo, The Illegal Trial of Jesus [Edited, illustrated and annotated], 22-42 (Kindle Edition); Ontario, CA; Chick Publications)

Wingo discovered at least eighteen illegalities about Jesus’ arrest and trial:

“A casual review of what transpired should forever settle the validity of the sentence of death. Let the reader consider these salient facts, which cannot be disputed: 1. Jesus was unlawfully arrested because they had no warrant nor authority from the high priest, or anyone else, to take Him into custody. (See Chapter 7.) 2. He was illegally taken before Annas for private examination. Annas was neither a judge or high priest, but a mere politician in Judea. (See Chapter 8.) 3. The members of the Sanhedrin were disqualified to try Jesus because of their known enmity toward the prisoner; and because they had prejudged His case long before the trial had begun. (See Chapter 17.) 4. The Sanhedrin had no lawful right to assemble when they did-the night before the celebration of the Feast of the Passover. (See Chapter 9.) 5. The proceedings were void because when the trial started, no charges had been filed. 6. The Sanhedrin violated the Jewish laws by failing to produce the required two witnesses. (See Chapter 13.) 7. The Sanhedrin had no jurisdiction because Jesus was brought before them without a warrant of arrest. No court acquires jurisdiction over one’s person until he has been subjected to a legal arrest. 8. They failed to produce any witnesses to establish that Christ was not the Son of God. They should have proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, and to a moral certainty, that Jesus lied when He confessed to being the Son of God. 9. The proceedings were void because, without notice to the Accused, the charges were changed. He was first charged with the “blasphemy,” then with treason and sedition when before the Roman Governor. (See Chapter 10.) 10. The conviction was illegal in that the entire proceedings against Him were exparte-that is, one-sided, because they would not permit Him to call His witnesses to corroborate Him. (See Chapter 11.) 11. They unlawfully condemned Him to die on His Own admission that He was the Son of God. This was contrary to the Hebrew laws of evidence. (See Chapter 12.) 12. The Sanhedrin, contrary to the law, concluded His trial on the same day, when it was required to last at least two days. (See Chapter 14.) 13. The conviction was void because He was denied His right to set forth His defense to the charges made against Him. (See Chapter 18.) 14. There was a unanimous verdict of guilty, and, under the Hebrew laws, a unanimous verdict amounted to an acquittal of the Accused. (See Chapter 16.) 15. They had no lawful right to take Christ before Herod for trial because there were no charges preferred against Him while He was before King Herod. In spite of this error, Herod did not condemn Jesus for any crime. 16. Christ was unlawfully condemned to die because the Sanhedrin had no lawful right to condemn anyone to death unless that sentence was approved by the Roman Governor. 17. The Hebrew laws operated to acquit Christ when He was before the Sanhedrin. He should have been released instead of being taken before Pilate. Having proved nothing, the Sanhedrin unlawfully took Him before the Roman Governor for the approval of their unlawful conduct. 18. Pilate tried four times to release Jesus by declaring that he did not find Him guilty of any offense. In spite of this, they murdered Him upon Calvary. These eighteen serious law-violations were spitefully committed by that group of evil-minded men who, in order to be rid of Jesus, were willing to stoop to murder.” (Earle L. Wingo, The Illegal Trial of Jesus [Edited, illustrated and annotated], 905-924 (Kindle Edition); Ontario, CA; Chick Publications)

The injustice Jesus experienced throughout His life-and especially in His illegal arrest and trial-teach us some very important lessons.

First, law and order are good things, and we owe this to God. Many in our world want to deny the existence of God, failing to consider that the existence of God is the only basis for objective morality. Simply stated, “right and wrong” do not exist if God is cut out of the picture: because “right and wrong” then becomes words of personal taste, opinion, and sentiment. Every time the atheist cries “wrong” or “foul” they are unwittingly acknowledging the existence of Almighty God.

How thankful we should be for godly laws, and for godly men and women who enforce those laws.

Second, while acknowledging that there are good forces at work in this world, we also acknowledge that there are many wicked powers of darkness in this world; and they will do everything that they can to silence, suppress, and subvert God’s Word and His messengers in this world.


Very simply, there is a battle going on in the spiritual world that often plays out in the politics of the day and age. There are two kingdoms at war: the kingdom of Christ, and the kingdom of Satan.

Colossians 1:13-He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,

Satan is the “god”of this world, having been given his authority through the sin of Adam and Eve:

Luke 4:5-6-Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6  And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.

The rulers of Jesus wanted to kill Him so that they could keep their position of power:

John 11:47-48-Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. 48  If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.”

Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead here, and more and more people were converted to Him. The officials could not allow that to happen! Notice that the chief priests and Pharisees were concerned that if they didn’t find a way to kill Jesus, the Romans would come and take both their “place” and their “nation!”

Barclay has well noted on this passage:

“THE Jewish authorities are very vividly sketched before us. The wonderful happening at Bethany had forced their hand; it was impossible to allow Jesus to continue unchecked, otherwise the people would follow him in growing numbers. So the Sanhedrin was called to deal with the situation. In the Sanhedrin there were both Pharisees and Sadducees. The Pharisees were not a political party at all; their sole interest was in living according to every detail of the law; and they did not care who governed them as long as they were allowed to continue in meticulous obedience to the law. On the other hand, the Sadducees were intensely political. They were the wealthy and aristocratic party. They were also the collaborationist party. As long as they were allowed to retain their wealth, comfort and position of authority, they were well content to collaborate with Rome. All the priests were Sadducees. And it is clear that it was the priests who dominated this meeting of the Sanhedrin. That is to say, it was the Sadducees who did all the talking. With a few masterly strokes, John delineates their characteristics. First, they were notoriously discourteous. Josephus said of them (The Jewish Wars 2: 8, 14) that: ‘The behaviour of the Sadducees to one another is rather rude, and their intercourse with their equals is rough, as with strangers.’ ‘You know nothing at all,’ said Caiaphas (verse 49). ‘You are witless, brainless creatures.’ Here we see the innate, domineering arrogance of the Sadducees in action; this was exactly in character. Their contemptuous arrogance is an implicit contrast to the accents of love of Jesus. Second, the one thing at which the Sadducees always aimed was the retention of their political and social power and prestige. What they feared was that Jesus might gain a following and raise a disturbance against the government. Now, Rome was essentially tolerant, but, with such a vast empire to govern, it could never afford civil disorder, and always quelled it with a firm and merciless hand. If Jesus was the cause of civil disorder, Rome would descend in all her power, and beyond a doubt the Sadducees would be dismissed from their positions of authority. It never even occurred to them to ask whether Jesus was right or wrong. Their only question was: ‘What effect will this have on our ease and comfort and authority?’ They judged things, not in the light of principle but in the light of their own careers. And it is still possible for people to set their own careers before the will of God. Then comes the first tremendous example of dramatic irony. Sometimes in a play, a character says something whose full significance he does not realize; that is dramatic irony. So the Sadducees insisted that Jesus must be eliminated or the Romans would come and take their authority away. In AD 70, that is exactly what happened. The Romans, weary of Jewish stubbornness, besieged Jerusalem, and left it a heap of ruins with a plough drawn across the Temple area. How different things might have been if the Jews had accepted Jesus! The very steps they took to save their nation destroyed it. This destruction happened in AD 70; John’s gospel was written about AD 100; and all who read it would see the dramatic irony in the words of the Sadducees.” (William Barclay, The Gospel of John, Volume Two (The New Daily Study Bible), 120-122 (Kindle Edition); Edinburgh, England; Saint Andrew Press)

The Bible also teaches, however, that there were spiritual forces at work behind Jesus’ illegal arrest, trial, and crucifixion:

1 Corinthians 2:7-8-But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8  which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Paul here uses a phrase, “rulers of this age,” that was used by the Jewish people and the early Christians to refer to demonic forces. Furthermore, this is its’ general usage in the New Testament:

“There are a number of good reasons, however, for believing Paul intended his readers to think of demonic rulers when they read this passage. First, Paul used the term “ruler” (archon) elsewhere for Satan. In Ephesians 2:2, for example, Paul described Satan as “the ruler (archon] of the kingdom of the air.” On one other occasion, he did use the word for human rulers (Rom 13:3), but the important point to establish here is that the word was part of his vocabulary for referring to an evil spirit-being. Second, it is more natural to interpret the demonic rulers as being “wiped out” (katargeo) than the human rulers. Later in the same letter he said Christ must destroy (katargeo) the powers of darkness (“all dominion, authority, and power”) before he hands over the kingdom to God the Father (1 Cor 15:24). He also used the word katargeo to refer to Christ’s slaying of the satanically inspired “lawless one” during ing the time of great distress at the end (2 Thess 2:8). He never used the word for the ultimate doom of unbelieving humanity. It is significant that the writer of Hebrews also used the word katargeo with reference to the evil spiritual realm-by his death Christ “destroyed” the devil (Heb 2:14). Third, this interpretation best explains Paul’s argument in this passage. In the larger context Paul was acclaiming the inscrutable wisdom of God. This wisdom is the essence of Paul’s message and is imparted by revelation of the Spirit to believers. He belittled human wisdom as useless for understanding God’s ways. He now advances his argument by showing that not even the angelic powers could understand the secret wisdom of God. Fourth, Paul probably used the word ruler for evil angels because it was part of the wide array of terminology for evil spirits in Jewish tradition at the time. Furthermore, it likely carried the connotation of exceptional power and authority in the hierarchy of evil spirit-beings. This is especially true when we realize it was a title for Satan. The use of the word “ruler” (archon) in Judaism for evil angels can be illustrated by its appearance in the second century B.C. Testament of Simeon. In this document Simeon allegedly gave the reason for his jealousy and hatred of his brother Joseph: In the time of my youth I was jealous of Joseph, because my father loved him more than all the rest of us. I determined inwardly to destroy him, because the Prince [archon] of Error [or “deception”] blinded my mind so that I did not consider him as a brother nor did I spare Jacob, my father. (Testament of Simeon 2:6-7)’ This text also illustrates the tendency of later Judaism to rewrite patriarchal history by attributing demonic involvement to events. Finally, the word “ruler” (archon] was also part of the early Christian vocabulary for the satanic. The “prince [archon] of this world” is one of John’s most common expressions for the devil (see Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). An example of its use by the Apostolic Fathers can be seen in the late first-century Epistle of Barnabas: There are two ways of teaching and of power, the one of light and the other of darkness…. On the one are stationed the light-giving angels of God, on the other the angels of Satan. And the one is Lord from all eternity and unto all eternity, whereas the other is Lord (archon) of the season of iniquity that now is.5 Paul held the demonic rulers responsible for Christ’s death. He assumes that these powers of Satan were working behind the scenes to control the course of events during the passion week. It was not a part of Paul’s purpose to explain exactly how these demonic rulers operated . At the very least we can imagine they were intimately involved by exerting their devious influence in and through Judas, Pilate, Annas and Caiaphas, and by inciting the mob.’ (Clinton E. Arnold, Powers Of Darkness: Principalities & Powers In Paul’s Letters, 102-104 (Kindle Edition); Downers Grove, Illinois; InterVarsity Press)

There will be times when we find ourselves the target of unjust criticism and attack. If this occurs, remember that the real enemy is not flesh and blood: it is the demonic powers beyond the veil working through people who are either ignorant or wicked.

Third, consider that the battle against spiritual injustice is not a battle fought with physical weapons. Jesus commanded Peter to put away his weapon when He was being arrested. He even healed the man who was injured that was involved in arresting the Lord!

John 18:10-12-Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. 11  So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” 12  Then the detachment of troops and the captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him.

Luke 22:51-But Jesus answered and said, “Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.

The world teaches us that we fight injustice with physical force. This is not the way of Christ! While there may be times for utilizing force in regards to self-defense (Luke 22:36), when we are persecuted for the sake of the Gospel, we rely on spiritual weapons.

2 Corinthians 10:4-For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,

I shudder whenever I recall the events of January 6, 2021. Many Americans got the impression on that day that Christians believe political change is affected with physical force. How horrendous to remember the gallows constructed and seeing a John 3:16 sign beside it. My heart breaks as I remember these events, and as I consider that many are now persuaded this was a display of God’s Word. It was not! This is not the way of God!

Let us affect change with the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17).

Fourth, the forces of darkness will stoop very low to try and destroy God’s Word and messengers. Notice the illegalities used in Jesus’ arrest. Sadly, those who are wicked will often operate through the lens of being “righteous” and accuse those who are followers of Light of being wicked. This should not surprise us. They did the same thing with our Lord. Sadly, some may believe unjust accusations; so has it always been. Remember that your primary responsibility as a child of God is not to defend your honor or your name, but to proclaim Jesus and His Word. Indeed, our obligation before God is to continue speaking the truth of God’s Word in love, even when we find ourselves persecuted (Ephesians 4:15). This is what it means to be a Christian (Colossians 4:5-6).

Fifth, Jesus’ example ensures that in the end, the sufferers of unjust persecution will be victorious. The Lord committed Himself to God to bring about His will at the right time. He has set us an Example in this:

1 Peter 2:21-24-For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22  “WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH”; 23  who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24  who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.

One of the things that I love about Peter’s First Epistle is that he focuses on the ways that God works through suffering to bring about greater good. Suffering can help demonstrate the genuineness of our faith and this will lead us to praise, glory, and when Jesus returns (1 Peter 1:6-7). Suffering that we endure can lead to the conversion of sinners when they witness how Christians face the trials of life and persecution (1 Peter 2:12). Suffering allows Christians to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and allows us to learn to trust God as He did (1 Peter 2:21-25). Suffering for the sake of righteousness leads to God blessing us (1 Peter 3:14), and gives us opportunity to teach the Word even to our enemies so that they may be converted also (1 Peter 3:14-16). When we suffer for the Lord, this leads to a greater work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives (1 Peter 4:14), and this helps us to learn to be humble and cast our cares upon God (1 Peter 5:6-7). This can also lead us a stronger bond of fellowship with other Christians who suffer unjustly (1 Peter 5:8-9), as well as to help perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle us (1 Peter 5:10).

When we suffer unjustly for doing right, God will honor this and bring good through it. Now, we don’t know exactly when that will be: but we commit ourselves to “Him Who judges righteously.” We can rest assured that God will take care of us when we are treated unjustly:

1 Peter 5:10-But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

Commit yourself to the Lord and trust in His work and in His timing.

Sixth, as hard as it may be, pray for those who are attacking you and treating you with cruelty. This is what Jesus commands of us:

Matthew 5:44-45-But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45  that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Indeed, Jesus Himself sets the Example for us in this regard:

Luke 23:34-Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.

Finally, when you know a person who is suffering because of persecution, one thing you can do is care for those who love him/her. Isn’t it an awesome testament that Jesus while on the Cross showed such concern for those whom He knew and loved in a special way?

John 19:26-27-When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” 27  Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.

Show your support for those suffering not only by encouraging them, but caring for, praying for, and supporting those who love them. Throughout the world, there are ministries devoted to helping the families and churches of those who suffer persecution for preaching the Gospel (places like Voice Of The Martyrs, for example). In whatever capacity you can help, help. God will remember your contribution.

Hebrews 6:10-For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Christian, hold on to this knowledge: when you suffer unjust persecution for doing good and following Christ, HE is with you and perfectly understands what you are facing. He knows every fear, every tear, every doubt, and every injustice.

Trust in Him, and walk where He leads, step by step.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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