1998-03-12 - Falsely Accused
The Cross Series, Part 30
Luke 23:1-5 Then the whole body of them arose and brought Him before Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse Him, saying, "We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King." 3 And Pilate asked Him, saying, "Are You the King of the Jews?" And He answered him and said, "It is as you say." 4 And Pilate said to the chief priests and the multitudes, "I find no guilt in this man." 5 But they kept on insisting, saying, "He stirs up the people, teaching all over Judea, starting from Galilee, even as far as this place." (NAS)
Jesus is publicly accused of sedition against the Roman Empire. While technically correct in the sense that Jesus did claim to be King, He never claimed His title to the world at that time. Later, Jesus will correct Pilate that His followers are not of this world. The Procurator must have wondered if Jesus quite sane, but found Jesus guiltless. At no time did Jesus pose a threat to the Roman government or the Emperor, other than the theft of the hearts of it's citizens.
Privately, the Jewish Council had accused and convicted Jesus of blasphemy. The punishment would be automatically prescribed as death. But, the Romans had taken the right to preform capital punishment from the Jewish nation when the region was occupied. There are records that the High Priest walked through the streets of Jerusalem with his head covered in ashes and his priestly robes torn at the proclamation that removed this right.
Gen 49:10 "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. (NAS)
The right of self-determination in this very vital area had been taken from the Jewish people. The scepter had been taken from Judah. Rather than take this as a sign that the Messiah must certainly be alive, the leadership of the nation claimed that the Word of God had been broken. Jesus would have been a very young boy, quite likely still in exile in Egypt with Mary and Joseph.
The Council could not take the charges of blasphemy to Pilate. That would have been a religious, internal matter. So they modified the charges to fit their purpose. They rationalized to make the end fit the means required. Christians are not immune to this before we get too puffed up. Now, we don't go around trumping up charges to have people executed. But we do gossip under the guise of sharing something that needs to be prayed about, etc.
Jesus stood falsely accused before Pilate. And the Master warned us that we would also stand in the same place.
Matt 5:11-12 "Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. 12 "Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (NAS)
Here in America, Christians are accused of being narrow-minded, unthinking robots, and some worse. In other parts of the world, children are taken from their parents, or the professing parents are simply killed - sometimes without even a mock trial. Jesus never promised us a rose garden, not here. Following Jesus has a cost that should be counted to see that we are willing to pay. The price will be exacted whether we are ready to pay or not.
Christianity is in vogue in some circles, watered down to the point it is hard to recognize. In other cases, it is ridiculed as antiquated, narrow-minded, arrogant, and preposterous and more. Nothing could be further from the truth. Christianity, vibrant Christianity, is relevant, open to the possibilities of an omnipotent God, humble. Jesus' life is better documented and studied than the life of the great William Shakespeare.
Lord Jesus, through our proud hearts, teach us to live lives beyond reproach. So that, when we are falsely accused, no one will believe the accusation could be true. Amen.
Grace & Peace,
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.