“Injustice!” is the cry of peoples in every corner of the planet today. “Have you been treated unjustly? Have you treated anyone unjustly?” In the prophet Isaiah’s words Jesus will ‘lead justice to victory’ (Isaiah 42:1-4). “Is Jesus qualified to do this”, you may ask? Let’s investigate.
After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead the religious authorities decided to kill Him. Although they knew that only the promised Messiah could have the authority to raise the dead, instead of worshipping Jesus as the Messiah, they decided to accuse Him of being empowered by Beelzebub, the prince of demons. They saw Jesus as their ‘enemy’. He opposed all their man-made rules, which they claimed were an authority above that of Scripture. They determined that Jesus had to die. To achieve this goal they violated twenty two laws in the Jewish legal system of that day. That was injustice.
Judas, the betrayer, was vital in the Sanhedrin’s case, as they needed a key witness to verify Jesus claims. Without him they had no case. Judas was paid thirty pieces of silver for his testimony: totally illegal. Judas led the Roman soldiers to Gethsemane to arrest Jesus and betrayed Him with a sacred kiss, the sign to a rabbi of submission, honour and homage. Then he disappeared, and later they discovered his death by suicide.
These events happened on the eve of Passover: totally illegal. The trial was held in secret, not public and before the morning sacrifice: totally illegal. They lost their sole witness, Judas, so they shouldn’t have proceeded with the trial. That too was illegal. Confusion of testimonies in this ‘show trial’ by false witnesses: totally illegal. The leaders all argued for Jesus to be pronounced guilty: totally illegal. Leaders attempted to force a confession of guilt from Jesus: totally illegal. The high priest’s attempt to force Jesus to pronounce the name of God, as an act of blasphemy: totally illegal. The verdict of guilty was a decision taken by acclamation and not by personal vote: totally illegal. The fact that this was unanimous strongly indicates a conspiracy against the defendant: again totally illegal. Pronouncing the verdict of death on the night of the trial without a 24 hour break: totally illegal. The high priest tearing his garment disqualified him in his office, yet he carried on: totally illegal. Jesus was abused and beaten during the trial: totally illegal. Jesus was horrendously mutilated by a Roman flogging: absolutely forbidden.
Throughout the trial Jesus was totally in control. The Sanhedrin wanted it all postponed till after Passover when the crowds had returned home, but Jesus, by exposing Judas as the betrayer, ensured that His trial and execution was at Passover, when the Passover lamb was slaughtered.
Pilate, who wanted to escape making a decision condemning Jesus to death, passed that responsibility over to the crowd. ‘Do I release Jesus or Barabbas’ (who was an insurrectionist and murderer)? he enquired of the crowd. A contemporary historian informs us that his full name was Jesus Barabbas. Barabbas means ‘son of the father,’ Jesus Barabbas means ‘Jesus son of the father’ an extraordinary identity, especially on this occasion. The insurrectionist was set free, and the Saviour received the death sentence of an insurrectionist. That’s the height of human injustice. It was Jesus’ destiny to suffer that injustice. In a remarkable way it demonstrates the depths of His grace. Never in all history has there ever been such a crystal clear act of what God means by grace.
Are you a sinner? Do you struggle to accept the truth that you’re forgiven as soon as you confess and repent? Jesus, in the last stages of asphyxiation on the cross, prayed the most incredible releasing prayer ever: ‘Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.’ That prayer applies to us, to you and to me. It’s not because we’re worthy of it, or have earned it. It’s purely the measure of God’s grace. ‘It is by grace you have been saved’ (Ephesians 2:5).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, as I ponder upon the injustice of what Your Son Jesus suffered for me, I begin to recognise how You abhor my sin, and that Your grace reaches down into my life, in Your justice and mercy. Thank You, Jesus, that You became the Lamb of God in this world that doesn’t recognise You. You paid the price for my redemption, enabling me to know Your Father as my Father. Please forgive me for any injustice I’ve caused, and show me anyone I need to seek forgiveness from. Amen.
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