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Six Illegal Trials

He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me.”
–Mark 14:36

This week we are examining the six trials Jesus endured before His crucifixion. First of all, let’s look at the chronology. The week before the crucifixion, hundreds of thousands of Jews had come to Jerusalem for the celebration of the Passover, the most holy festival in all of Judaism. Jesus and His disciples were in Jerusalem, and they celebrated the Passover together. They probably finished around midnight early Friday morning, and then they went to a grove of olive trees on the side of the Mount of Olives, a place called Gethsemane. While the disciples slept, Jesus prayed like He had never prayed before. Mark 14:35-36 says, “He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. And He was saying, ‘Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me.’” You might have heard people say, “I think there are many ways to heaven. Who are we to say that Jesus is the only way?” But look at what God the Father said here. When Jesus prayed, “Father, if there is any other way, let this experience pass from Me,” heaven was silent. God said nothing because there is no other way to atone for the sins of the world. If there are other roads to heaven, then the death of Jesus Christ was totally unnecessary. But Jesus died that horrific death because there is no other way for the forgiveness of sins. That is why Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

After 1 o’clock in the morning, Judas and a band of Jewish and Roman officials came and placed Jesus under arrest. They took Him to the first of six trials that went until about 9 a.m., when He was nailed to the cross. That is the chronology of what happened.

Second, let me explain the categories of these six trials. The first three were religious trials; the second three were civil trials. Why two different kinds? Even though the Romans were in charge of Israel, they liked for the Jewish people to handle their own disputes as much as possible. So the first three trials were trials by the religious leaders to try to convict Jesus of blasphemy–that He claimed to be the Messiah, which in the Jewish thinking was the same as claiming to be God. The problem was, even if they convicted Him, they did not have the authority to authorize the death penalty, so they turned Jesus over to the Romans for the civil trials. But the Jews changed the charge and said, “This guy claims to be a king. He is guilty of treason. He is going to lead an insurrection.” That was the charge against Jesus to the Romans–that He claimed to be a king.

Finally, I want to point out the character of these trials. All six of them were illegal trials in one way or another. For example, both Jewish and Roman law said anyone charged with a capital crime should have an attorney present. No attorney was present for Jesus. It was a miscarriage of justice, and yet God was still working through man’s evil to achieve His good.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “God On Trial” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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