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The Trial of Christ
THE angels, as they left heaven, in sadness laid off their
glittering crowns. They could not wear them while their Commander was suffering and was to
wear a crown of thorns. Satan and his angels were busy in the judgment hall to destroy
human feeling and sympathy. The very atmosphere was heavy and polluted by their influence.
The chief priests and elders were inspired by them to insult and abuse Jesus in a manner
the most difficult for human nature to bear. Satan hoped that such mockery and violence
would call forth from the Son of God some complaint or murmur; or that He would manifest
His divine power and wrench Himself from the grasp of the multitude, and that thus the
plan of salvation might at last fail.
Peter followed his Lord after His betrayal. He was anxious to see what would be done
with Jesus. But when he was accused of being one of His disciples, fear for his own safety
led him to declare that he knew not the Man. The disciples were noted for the purity of
their language, and Peter, to convince his accusers that he was not one of Christ's
disciples, denied the charge the third time with cursing and swearing. Jesus, who was at
some distance from Peter, turned a sorrowful, reproving gaze upon him. Then the disciple
remembered the words which Jesus had spoken to him in the upper chamber, and also his own
zealous assertion, "Though all men shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I
never be offended." Matt. 26:33. He had denied his Lord, even with cursing and
swearing; but that look of Jesus' melted Peter's heart and saved him. He wept bitterly and
repented of his great sin, and was converted, and then was prepared to strengthen his
In the Judgment Hall
The multitude were clamorous for the blood of Jesus. They cruelly scourged Him, and put
upon Him an old purple kingly robe, and bound His sacred head with a crown of thorns. They
put a reed into His hand, and bowed to Him, and mockingly saluted Him, "Hail, king of
the Jews!" John 19:3. They then took the reed from His hand and smote Him with it
upon the head, causing the thorns to penetrate His temples, sending the blood trickling
down His face and beard.
It was difficult for the angels to endure the sight. They would have delivered Jesus, but
the commanding angels forbade them, saying that it was a great ransom which was to be paid
for man; but it would be complete and would cause the death of him who had the power of
death. Jesus knew that angels were witnessing the scene of His humiliation. The weakest
angel could have caused that mocking throng to fall powerless and could have delivered
Jesus. He knew that if He should desire it of His Father, angels would instantly release
Him. But it was necessary that He should suffer the violence of wicked men, in order to
carry out the plan of salvation.
Jesus stood meek and humble before the infuriated multitude, while they offered Him the
vilest abuse. They spat in His face--that face from which they will one day desire to
hide, which will give light to the city of God and shine brighter than the sun. Christ did
not cast upon the offenders an angry look. They covered His head with an old garment,
blindfolding Him, and then struck Him in the face and cried out, "Prophesy, who was
it that smote Thee?" Luke 22:64. There was commotion among the angels. They would
have rescued Him instantly, but their commanding angels restrained them.
Some of the disciples had gained confidence to enter where Jesus was and witness His
trial. They expected that He would manifest His divine power, and deliver Himself from the
hands of His enemies, and punish them for their cruelty toward Him. Their hopes would rise
and fall as the different scenes transpired. Sometimes they doubted, and feared that they
had been deceived. But the voice heard at the mount of transfiguration, and the glory they
there beheld, strengthened their faith that He was the Son of God. They called to mind the
scenes which they had witnessed, the miracles which they had seen Jesus perform in healing
the sick, opening the eyes of the blind, unstopping the deaf ears, rebuking and casting
out devils, raising the dead to life, and even calming the wind and the sea.
They could not believe that He would die. They hoped that He would yet rise in power, and
with His commanding voice disperse that bloodthirsty multitude, as when He entered the
temple and drove out those who were making the house of God a place of merchandise, when
they fled before Him as if pursued by a company of armed soldiers. The disciples hoped
that Jesus would manifest His power and convince all that He was the King of Israel.
Judas was filled with bitter remorse and shame at his treacherous act in betraying
Jesus. And when he witnessed the abuse which the Saviour endured, he was overcome. He had
loved Jesus, but had loved money more. He had not thought that Jesus would suffer Himself
to be taken by the mob which he led on. He had expected Him to work a miracle and deliver
Himself from them. But when he saw the infuriated multitude in the judgment hall,
thirsting for blood, he deeply felt his guilt; and while many were vehemently accusing
Jesus, Judas rushed through the multitude, confessing that he had sinned in betraying
innocent blood. He offered the priests the money which they had paid him, and entreated
them to release Jesus, declaring that He was entirely innocent.
For a short time vexation and confusion kept the priests silent. They did not wish the
people to know that they had hired one of the professed followers of Jesus to betray Him
into their hands. Their hunting Jesus like a thief and taking Him secretly, they wished to
hide. But the confession of Judas and his haggard, guilty appearance exposed the priests
before the multitude, showing that it was hatred that had caused them to take Jesus. As
Judas loudly declared Jesus to be innocent, the priests replied, "What is that to us?
see thou to that." Matt. 27:4. They had Jesus in their power, and were determined to
make sure of Him. Judas, overwhelmed with anguish, threw the money that he now despised at
the feet of those who had hired him, and, in anguish and horror, went and hanged himself.
Jesus had many sympathizers in the company about Him, and His answering nothing to the
many questions put to Him amazed the throng. Under all the mockery and violence of the
mob, not a frown, not a troubled expression, rested upon His features. He was dignified
and composed. The spectators looked upon Him with wonder. They compared His perfect form
and firm, dignified bearing with the appearance of those who sat in judgment against Him,
and said to one another that He appeared more like a king than any of the rulers. He bore
no marks of being a criminal. His eye was mild, clear, and undaunted, His forehead broad
and high. Every feature was strongly marked with benevolence and noble principle. His
patience and forbearance were so unlike man that many trembled. Even Herod and Pilate were
greatly troubled at His noble, Godlike bearing.
Jesus Before Pilate
From the first, Pilate was convinced that Jesus was no common man. He believed Him to
be an excellent character and entirely innocent of the charges brought against Him. The
angels who were witnessing the scene marked the convictions of the Roman governor, and to
save him from engaging in the awful act of delivering Christ to be crucified, an angel was
sent to Pilate's wife, and gave her information through a dream that it was the Son of God
in whose trial her husband was engaged, and that He was an innocent sufferer. She
immediately sent a message to Pilate, stating that she had suffered many things in a dream
on account of Jesus and warning him to have nothing to do with that holy Man. The
messenger, pressing hastily through the crowd, placed the letter in the hands of Pilate.
As he read, he trembled and turned pale, and at once determined to have nothing to do with
putting Christ to death. If the Jews would have the blood of Jesus, he would not give his
influence to it, but would labor to deliver Him.
Sent to Herod
When Pilate heard that Herod was in Jerusalem, he was greatly relieved, for he hoped to
free himself from all responsibility in the trial and condemnation of Jesus. He at once
sent Him, with His accusers, to Herod. This ruler had become hardened in sin. The murder
of John the Baptist had left upon his conscience a stain from which he could not free
himself. When he heard of Jesus and the mighty works wrought by Him, he feared and
trembled, believing Him to be John the Baptist risen from the dead. When Jesus was placed
in his hands by Pilate, Herod considered the act an acknowledgment of his power,
authority, and judgment. This had the effect to make friends of the two rulers, who had
before been enemies. Herod was pleased to see Jesus, expecting Him to work some mighty
miracle for his satisfaction. But it was not the work of Jesus to gratify curiosity or to
seek His own safety. His divine, miraculous power was to be exercised for the salvation of
others, but not in His own behalf.
Jesus answered nothing to the many questions put to Him by Herod; neither did He reply to
His enemies, who were vehemently accusing Him. Herod was enraged because Jesus did not
appear to fear his power, and with his men of war he derided, mocked, and abused the Son
of God. Yet he was astonished at the noble, Godlike appearance of Jesus when shamefully
abused, and, fearing to condemn Him, he sent Him again to Pilate.
Satan and his angels were tempting Pilate and trying to lead him on to his own ruin. They
suggested to him that if he did not take part in condemning Jesus others would; the
multitude were thirsting for His blood; and if he did not deliver Him to be crucified, he
would lose his power and worldly honor, and would be denounced as a believer on the
impostor. Through fear of losing his power and authority, Pilate consented to the death of
Jesus. And notwithstanding he placed the blood of Jesus upon His accusers, and the
multitude received it, crying, "His blood be on us, and on our children" (Matt.
27:25), yet Pilate was not clear; he was guilty of the blood of Christ. For his own
selfish interest, his love of honor from the great men of earth, he delivered an innocent
man to die. If Pilate had followed his own convictions he would have had nothing to do
with condemning Jesus.
The appearance and words of Jesus during His trial made a deep impression upon the minds
of many who were present on that occasion. The result of the influence thus exerted was
apparent after His resurrection. Among those who were then added to the church, there were
many whose conviction dated from the time of Jesus' trial.
Satan's rage was great as he saw that all the cruelty which he had led the Jews to inflict
on Jesus had not called forth from Him the slightest murmur. Although He had taken upon
Himself man's nature, He was sustained by a Godlike fortitude, and departed not in the
least from the will of His Father.
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