Roman Trial
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Bertrand L. Comparet

The essential core of Christianity is the fact Yahshua brought salvation and redemption to Israel, by paying the death penalty for our sins. He was able to die for our sins, since He had no sins of His own to answer for. In my last lesson, I showed that even the corrupt, mock trial given Him by the Jews, actually proved Him innocent under Jewish law. Let us now consider what followed the Jewish trial.

As soon as it was daylight, the Great Sanhedrin met and planned to get the Romans to commit their political murder for them, trying thus to shift the blame. They dragged Yahshua before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor. When Pontius Pilate asked what the charges were, John 18:30-31 shows that the Jews were evasive and merely said, "If He were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up to thee." Pilate would not be so easily taken in, so he replied, "Take ye Him and judge Him according to your law." However, they were determined to get others to do their murder for them, so they said, "It is not lawful for us to put any man to death". This is false, for they were allowed to judge and punish under their own laws, as Pilate had told them.

Three years later they did kill the martyr Stephen by stoning him to death, as Acts chapter 7 relates. This was a form of execution used under Jewish law, so the Romans did not interfere with it. Stoning was a quick death and they wanted the slow torture of crucifixion for Yahshua, which only the Romans could use. They therefore brought new charges against Yahshua before Pilate, abandoning as unproven the charges on which they had condemned Him in the Jewish trial.

This was a formal charge of sedition against the Roman Empire so Pilate had to hold a trial on it. Under Roman law, there were four elements or stages, of a criminal trial. It began with the formal accusation or indictment, stating the crime, which had been committed. Next came the examination, in which all evidence against the accused was heard and the accused was required to answer the charges made. Then the accused made his defense and was allowed ten days time to prepare, if he needed it. Finally came the judgment. The gospels record the complete Roman trial. First is the indictment in Luke 23:1-5, "And the whole multitude of them arose and led Him unto Pilate. And they began to accuse Him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that He Himself is the Christ, a king." The Jews knew this was a false charge, for they had sent their agents to entrap Him regarding paying the tribute money to Caesar. Matthew 22:15-22, Mark 12:13-17 and Luke 20:19-26 all record Yahshua's answer. "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto Yahweh that which is Yahweh's." Probably Pilate's spies had reported this to him for he wasn't much impressed. Luke continues, "And Pilate asked Him saying, Art thou the King of Judea? And He answered them and said, Thou sayest. Then said Pilate to the high priests and to the people, I find no fault in this Man."

Here is the first legal ruling in the Roman trial. Pilate ruled that an accusation, known to be false, was not sufficient, Yahshua was innocent. Then the Jewish clamor for His murder became so threatening that Pilate proceeded with the trial. John 18:33-38 records the examination, defense, and the judgment. "Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again and called Yahshua and said unto Him, Art thou the King of Judea? Yahshua answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of Me? Pilate answered, Am I a Judean? Thine own nation and the high priests have delivered Thee unto me: what hast Thou done? Yahshua answered, My kingdom is not of this world order: if My kingdom were of this world order, then would My servants fight that I would not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, art thou a king then? Yahshua answered, thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone that is of the truth heareth My voice. Pilate said unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews and saith unto them, I find no fault in Him at all." Although Pilate recognized the accusation as false, he had held a trial, heard both sides and now gave his formal judgment, "I find no fault in Him at all".

Justice was the last thing in the world the Jews wanted. They began to riot saying, "He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place." The situation was becoming dangerous. Pilate was enough of a politician to pass a hot potato to someone else to handle. Luke 23:5-12 records, "Herod Antipas, governor of Galilee, was then in Jerusalem. When Pilate heard that Yahshua's home was in Galilee, he sent Yahshua to Herod for trial, as one of Herod's subjects.

Herod heard all the accusations against Yahshua. The charges were so obviously false that Yahshua made no reply at all to them. Herod found nothing to the charges, so he merely mocked and ridiculed Yahshua and sent him back to Pilate, who again tried to save him. Luke 23:13-15 records, "And Pilate, when he had called together the high priest and rulers of the people, said unto them, Ye have brought this Man unto me as one that perverteth the people: and behold I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this Man touching those things whereof ye accuse Him.  No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him and lo, nothing worthy of death is done by [email protected]

Pilate tried to divert their hatred by ridiculing Yahshua with a purple robe, a crown of thorns and a reed for a scepter. He tried to arouse their pity by having Yahshua cruelly flogged. Nothing but the cruelest murder would satisfy their hatred.  

John chapter 19 records the hopeless effort to save Him. "Pilate therefore went forth again and said unto them, I bring Him forth to you that ye may know that I find no fault in Him. Then came Yahshua forth wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said unto them, Behold the Man! When the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, Crucify Him, crucify Him. Pilate said unto them, Take ye him and crucify Him: for I find no fault in Him. And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release Him: but the Jews cried out saying, If thou let this Man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. When Pilate therefore heard this saying, he brought Yahshua forth and sat down in the judgment seat. Then he delivered Him unto them to be crucified." As Matthew 27:25 records, "Then answered all the people, His blood be upon us and on our children."

We have the record, in every essential detail, showing Yahshua was brought to trial on all the Jewish charges against Him. Their accusations were proven false in their own Great Sanhedrin, which they admitted by abandoning the charges on which they tried Him, bringing completely new charges before Pilate. Under Jewish law, the trial held before the Great Sanhedrin resulted in a finding of innocence. There was another trial, held in careful conformity to all the rules of Roman law, which resulted in the verdict, "I find no fault at all".

Then there was a third trial, held before Herod, who found nothing on which to convict Him. Herod merely ridiculed Yahshua and sent Him back to Pilate, without ordering any kind of punishment. So there the record stands, the courts of Yahshua's worst enemies could not find any crime or sin He had done. He does give us redemption and salvation, having died to pay the penalty for our sins, having no sin of His own to answer for.