The Trial and Mocking

“Let not those rejoice over me
who are wrongfully my foes,
and let not those wink the eye
who hate me without cause.
20For they do not speak peace,
but against those who are quiet in the land
they devise words of deceit.
21They open wide their mouths against me;
they say, ‘Aha, Aha!
Our eyes have seen it!’”
                                —Ps. 35:19-21 (cf. Matt. 27:24-34)

Jesus is on trial. He who calmed the storm and reached out and touched and healed lepers is on trial. Jesus could have answered as God had once before when He was questioned.

He could have said, “’Who is this that darkness counsel by words without knowledge?!” (Job 38:2). He could have said, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?! (v. 4). Do you make the sun rise? (v. 12). Can you send forth lightening? (v. 35). Do you give the horse his might? (39:19). Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars? (v. 26).

And yet the One who created the universe by the word of His power and holds it together (Heb. 1:3), is on trial and even mocked. And the people cry out: “Crucify, crucify Him!”

Jesus is hated without cause (Ps. 35:19; 69:4) and people are wrongfully His foe because He never did a single thing that was wrong (1 Pet. 2:22; Heb. 4:15; 1 Jn. 3:5). And so, because He has never done anything wrong, He is attacked with lies and words of deceit (Ps. 35:20; 69:4). Jesus’ accusers said, “Aha, Aha! Our eyes have seen it!” (Ps. 39:21). But they hadn’t. They hadn’t because Jesus was without sin.

Although Jesus had done no violence, and there was no deceit in His mouth yet it was the will of the LORD to crush Him (Is. 53:9-10). Why did the LORD do that? Why if Jesus was perfect, did God, as it says in 1 Corinthians 5:21, make Him who knew no sin, to be sin? Why would Jesus be on trial for trumped-up charges? It was “according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23) so that all those who trust in Him might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). 

Isaiah tells us that Jesus’ soul will make an offering for guilt. And even though He dies,[1] He shall see His offspring and His days shall be prolonged.[2] The will of the LORD shall prosper in His hand (recall Acts 2:23). Out of the Jesus’ anguish, because He bares their iniquities, He makes many to be accounted righteous through faith in Him (see Is. 53:11).

And so, Jesus was silent before His oppressors, “He opened not His mouth” (Is. 53:7a; Matt. 26:63). He knew it was the LORD’s will that He bear the sins of many (Matt. 26:39). And so Jesus laid His life down willingly (Jn. 10:18).

“Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so He opened not His mouth” (v. 7b).

Reflections

  • In John Grisham’s book, The Innocent Man, he writes about a man who was falsely imprisoned for a number of years when later he was found to be not guilty. It is distressing for us to consider a situation like that. The system failed him.[3] So how much more when we consider that the sinless Son of God, the truly innocent One, was sentenced to a tortuous death. And yet He did it to redeem us who are not.
  • Jesus’ death was “according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). Consider God’s premeditated love. God’s love for you in Christ is not an afterthought. If you are in Christ, you were not thought of at the last moment. Instead, God has had His affections on you since before the foundation of the world.

Prayer

God, Your love and power and sovereignty are beyond what we can comprehend. We are amazed that You, in love, would send Your Son Jesus—the Innocent One—to die for us the unrighteous. We are amazed and we thank You. We thank You that You clothe us in Christ’s righteousness. Help us as those who have been declared innocent ones to live lives worthy of the calling to which we have been called. Amen.

_______

[1] Is. 53, for example, says that the Suffering Servant will be “stricken” (v. 4, 8), “afflicted” (v. 4), “wounded” (v. 5), “crushed” (v. 5, 10), “oppressed” (v. 7), “led to the slaughter” (v. 7), “cut off out of the land of the living” (v. 8), His grave will be made with the wicked (v. 9), and “poured out His soul to death.” So, it is clearly predicted that the Suffering Servant would died.

[2] This seems to clearly foreshadow the resurrection. Notice too that in v. 12 He enjoys the spoils of what He accomplished through His sacrifice so He’s clearly not still dead. In fact, He lives and “makes intercession for the transgressors” (v. 12).

[3] The legal system failed Jesus too. “The Jewish and Roman legal systems were not unusually bad—especially by ancient legal standards. These were two of the finest legal systems the world had ever known, and this is precisely the point. The hero of the Christian story was murdered by impressive legal systems, not transparently evil ones. Lest we think that it is simply an accident that one system of law failed, the Jesus story shows that even two legal systems working together and potentially correcting one another cannot ensure a just outcome” (David Skeel, True Paradox, 126). Ironically, the Just One was executed by two “just” Justices yet by His slaying justice shall soon reign (Is. 9:6-7). The religious and political leaders failed. Though, the Roman political leader, Pilate, was more just than the religious leaders.

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 10 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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