The most heinous crime to ever be committed took place in Israel, just shy of 2000 years ago. It was the greatest manifestation of hate to ever be perpetrated upon any member of the human family. Never in the history of the world, prior or sense, has such an injustice taken place. It is the crux of human history. The centerpiece of prophecy and prediction. And yet, while it ranks as the greatest hate crime ever committed, it is also the greatest manifestation of love ever recorded. This event, the greatest tragedy and blessing to ever take place on this terrestrial ball, has forever changed this world.
It was after supper one evening a man took his closest friends, his under studies, into a garden to pray. Something terrible was about to take place. An innocent man would be delivered into the hands of sinners (Luke 24:7). This betrayal by a close associate would trigger the greatest injustice in the courts of men to ever be recorded. (1) The timing was unjust. Jesus’ trial occurs in the Passover which was against the law. Furthermore, they were to happen between the morning worship and the evening meal- so as to be public and open to scrutiny. Jesus’ trial began somewhere around midnight. (2) Jesus was not afforded “due process”. The Sanhedrin was the “supreme court” of ancient Israel. They were impartial judges who listened to accusations and weigh the evidence fairly. But, this fateful night, they are the ones making the charges! To boot, official charges aren’t brought against Him, just railing questions and punches in the face were the order of the dark court. (3) The use of witnesses was unjust. Jewish law demanded that all witnesses agree to the basic facts of the crime, including date, time and place of the crime. This was not the case with Jesus’ trial, plus, you had the judges seeking out further witnesses. Jesus is never given opportunity to have his own witnesses present- again, because this is a kangaroo court in the middle of the night. (4) The conviction process was unjust. Conviction was supposed to take place by vote. The practice was the members would vote from the youngest to the oldest so the younger members would not be swayed by the older, more experienced. No such vote took place with Jesus, and we know that Nicodemus would object and more than likely not alone. To lend even more credence to this is the fact that twice, Pilot announces a verdict of innocence. (5) The sentencing was unjust. Jewish law required that a death sentence be carried out by stoning, which was carried out by the accusers. The judgement of death was “tabled” for three days, which afforded any other witnesses with exculpatory evidence a time to come forward. After three days, the Sanhedrin would reconvene and read out his name, his crime, the verdict, the witnesses names, and make one final call for witnesses before the execution was carried out. Jesus received none of this. (6) Pilots final consent was unjust. Pilot absolutely failed in his duty as a governor. He really was a terrible politician. The Jews hated him and were ready to riot on him, but that would have gotten him fired because he was on the hot seat with Tiberius. So, being on probation with the emperor, and among a mob that hates him, Pilot folds to the pressure. His wife, likely Claudia Procula, sent an urgent request to him to have “nothing to do with this just man” (Matthew 27:19). Pilot saves his skin- but not his soul.
It wasn’t long after pilot washed his hands that Jesus was beaten (John 19:1) and then crucified. He was brutally murdered. A just man- who did no sin neither was guile found in His mouth (1 Peter 2:22). This perfect, sinless man (Hebrews 7:26) was traded out for the unjust (Matthew 27:26; 1 Peter 3:18).
How can it be that the greatest tragedy became the greatest blessing? How was the greatest manifestation of hate also the greatest manifestation of love?
Have you ever heard, “What the devil meant for evil, God meant for good”? That is close to what several passages in the Bible say (Genesis 50:20; Psalm 21:11-13; Romans 12:21). Only God can take the evil that the devil hurls at the human family and turn it into good. God intended from the foundation of the world to send Jesus to take away the sins of the World (John 1:20; Revelation 13:8). The devil tried his best to thwart Gods plan- but God used all that evil to bring about the good. Perhaps the grisly scene we encounter at Golgotha is the first manifestation of what we read in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose”? Surely, we realize that God working the bad for the good is an eternal principle, but we see it in “high definition” at the cross. The cross blessed those all the way back to the Garden of Eden, on through time until God ends this old world. It is at the cross we see the blood that rolled back the sins from the beginning and cures sin for all time to come. It was in the event where hate so cruel murdered the Son of God, that God said he “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish, but have eternal life”. It was in the moment of wagging heads and hurling insults that God “demonstrated His love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). What a blessing we enjoy in Christ, to be an heir of God and joint heir with Christ (Romans 8:17). “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1).
The greatest blessing and the greatest manifestation of love triumphs over all the evil the devil intends for the human family. We have that which he (devil) can never have…Peace with God (Romans 5:1). Jesus, in His suffering through the trial, beating and crucifixion, can forever identify with any and every injustice we may face. Jesus can identify with the outcast. Jesus can identify with the marginalized. Jesus can identify with those who have fallen into the hands of unjust men. Jesus can identify with those who suffer abuse, neglect, abandonment, etc. And He more than “can”, He DOES! It is through His suffering we gain a “merciful and faithful High Priest” (Hebrews 2:17). It was His mission to live a life we could never live, so He could then give us a life we could never imagine. Oh, how immeasurably blest we are by the cross of Jesus. The time where love triumphed over hate. The devil’s victory, soon to be ripped from his defeated hands. Yes, it was the most heinous crime to be committed, but God turned it into eternal glory to all who would obey His Son (Hebrews 5:9), and only God can do something like that.