Friday, April 02, 2021

FAKE JUSTICE

Part 4 of  For we cannot but SPEAK
 
Read Part 1: SPEAK NOW



“And JUDGMENT is turned away backward,
and JUSTICE standeth afar off:
for TRUTH is fallen in the street,
and EQUITY cannot enter.”

(Isaiah 59:14)

 
Continuing our series on freedom to SPEAK, what follows is a unique perspective on the Trial of Jesus Christ, creatively employing descriptive words and phrases that are being used in the current “Cancel Culture.” 
 
 
The LAWLESS Case 
Over the three years of Jesus’s ministry on earth the “Whited Sepulchres” in leadership must have carefully considered their ecclesiastical options and calculated their political strengths. What triggered them? When did they jump off the deep end? When did their Power Base over the people begin to sharply erode? Jesus’s rising popularity with the masses, which was in evidence when He entered Jerusalem before Passover, clearly enraged the Power Elites. Luke 22:2 reveals their evil plotting: “the Chief Priests and Scribes sought how they might KILL Him; for they FEARED THE PEOPLE.” 
 
The Bastions of Legal Extremism – the Pharisees and Scribes, and all of the other assorted Elders in the Religious Establishment – were supposed to be the ones who upheld the LAW. After all, they excessively demanded that everyone conform to the intricate reinterpretations of the old Mosaic Code. THEY controlled the DEFINITIONS of justice, judgment, truth and equity in their System. To the Old Testament Law they appended rigorous extralegal requirements, duties, obligations, rules and regulations. Jesus didn’t buy in to their NARRATIVES. He often called out their hypocrisy (Matt. 15:7; 22:18; 23:14-29; e.g.). No wonder they hated Him so much. He exposed their doctrinal FALSEHOODS, their PRETENSES at virtuosity, and their sinful MOTIVES. 
 
Yet the Plain People dutifully conformed to their edicts and mandates. Why obey such overly strict requirements? Fear of retribution, public shaming, and other onerous penalties? After all, these Micromanagement Experts ran a heavy-handed Social Control system. Citizens were being monitored for compliance. Consider how the Pharisees and Scribes operated. Luke 6: 7 describes their obsessive surveillance of Jesus and His disciples: “And the scribes and Pharisees watched Him, whether He would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against Him.” They even trolled Him, “Laying wait for Him, and seeking to catch something out of His mouth that might accuse Him” (Luke 11:53). 
 
By the time Jesus rode into Jerusalem the Thought Police appeared to be losing their iron grip. He was becoming wildly popular with the Common Folk! Something needed to be done! They needed to regain the upper hand! 
 
But they couldn’t just go after Him in the open, during daylight. Ordinary People might have revolted. So Judas’s betrayal was uncannily timely. It facilitated a late night arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane under cover of darkness. A “great multitude” armed with “swords and staves” sent by the “Chief Priests and Elders” came upon Jesus. This aggressive maneuver worked: “all the disciples forsook Him, and fled” (Matthew 26:47; 55-56). The disciples RAN AWAY even though Jesus had just STATED that if he PRAYED to His Father, God would send Him more than twelve legions of angels! They had been daily EYEWITNESSES to His power for over three years, yet His own closest friends fled in fear. Fear of man trumped logic, common sense and spiritual TRUTH. 
 
The Religious Authorities then put on a good public show of brute force by hauling a physically bound Jesus around to the various trial venues. BOUND! As if mere cords could have stopped Him! Their blindness to their own ridiculousness is astonishing. A short time earlier a BOUND dead man, Lazarus, had actually walked out of his tomb ALIVE! In fact, the entire Lazarus matter must have also triggered the Rulers. John 12 records that hordes of curious people came to Bethany “that they might see Lazarus…” after Jesus raised him from the dead. “But the Chief Priests consulted that they might put Lazarus ALSO to death.” What legitimate CRIME could they possibly charge Lazarus with? There was no crime. John reveals the REAL issue. Because of Lazarus “many of the Jews… BELIEVED ON JESUS.” 
 
“The High Priest then asked Jesus of His disciples,
and of His doctrine.
Jesus answered him,
I SPAKE openly to the world;
I ever TAUGHT in the synagogue,
and in the temple,
whither the Jews always resort;
and in secret have I SAID nothing.”

(John 18:19-20) 
 
The SPEECH Crime 
The Corrupt Priests’ hatred and envy of Jesus, especially His popularity with the rabble, caused them to forego the usual legal constraints. The ends would justify the means. The entire juridical matter had the feel of a rush job to it: hasty proceedings and a fragmented case sloppily slapped together. When these Rabid Leaders set out to charge Jesus with “crimes” they ran roughshod over their own legal Code that protected the rights of the accused. Their entire case would be so poorly constructed that it would go down in history as THE classic example of INJUSTICE. 
 
To any impartial observer the hearings were a travesty. It started off backwards. First, they arrested Jesus, then they had to concoct a crime. Desperately they interviewed witness after witness, hoping to unearth a suitable NARRATIVE to FABRICATE a crime. 
 
Perhaps the FALSE witnesses hoped for a reward. Were they bribed? The Mosaic Law forbade bearing false witness (Exodus 20:16; Deut. 5:20), and there were penalties (Deut. 19:16-19). But this part of the Law was ignored. Then, after a prolonged session, the leaders finally seized upon a plausible accusation – based on Jesus’s own WORDS: “Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put Him to death; But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.” (Matthew 26:59-61) 
 
It was a SPEECH crime! This proposed “crime” was based solely on His WORDS. Two witnesses agreed that they had overheard him SPEAK WORDS threatening destruction and reconstruction of the temple. This was a blatant distortion of His TRUE WORDS. John 2:18 records what Jesus actually had said: “Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest Thou unto us, seeing that Thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” A physical impossibility. Ridiculous on its face. Not literal… unless… Jesus was actually the Son of God. It is ironical that this charge actually admits He could do it! Similar ironies occur throughout the entire FABRICATED case against Him. 
 
The TRUE STORY of Jesus Christ, Son of God, is juxtaposed against the FALSE NARRATIVE that the Rulers were trying to construct throughout their hearings. During the FAULTY religious trial the High Priest demanded an oath, “I adjure thee by the living God that Thou tell us whether Thou be the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus’s TRUTHFUL answer was met with a charge of BLASPHEMY, a twist on the capital crime deserving of death (Lev. 24:15). Yet another irony. Just WHO were the Real Blasphemers here? Certainly not Jesus Christ! It was the Accusers, who utterly failed to recognize Jesus as the Son of God! (Luke 22:65). 
 
“Also to punish the JUST is not good,
nor to STRIKE princes for
[doing] equity.”
(Proverbs 17:26) 
 
Disorder in the Court 
When Jesus stood before Caiphus to answer questions, He was assaulted by a bystanding officer: “And when He had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest Thou the High Priest so?” (John 18:22). Scripture does not mention that this officer was reprimanded. He got away with it. This small vignette illustrates the crude nature of the illegal proceedings. 
 
Once the Religious Officials found a “crime” upon which to establish their FAKE NARRATIVE of Jesus’s guilt they should have moved on. But abandoning all restraint they resorted to even more physical violence – they “spit in His face, and buffeted Him; and… smote Him with the palms of their hands” (Matthew 26:67), and “blindfolded Him, [and] they struck Him on the face.” Even their “servants did strike Him” (Mark 14:65). The High Priest must have stood by and permitted this extraordinarily unethical brutality. 
 
How quickly FALSE NARRATIVES degenerate into unwarranted acts of bullying and physical aggression. This brutality illustrates the shallowness of their case. They didn’t want to debate FACTS or hear TRUTH. They hated the TRUTH so much that they went overboard, overplaying their hand, revealing the evil darkness of their hate. They were clearly out for revenge. 
 
“Pilate therefore said unto Him,
Art Thou a king then?
Jesus answered,
Thou sayest that I am a king.
To this end was I born,
and for this cause came I into the world,
that I should BEAR WITNESS unto the TRUTH.
Every one that is of the TRUTH HEARETH My VOICE.”

(Jesus, speaking to Pilate, John 18:37b) 
 
The Kangaroo Court 
The Religious Establishment submitted their shoddy case to the Romans. Why did they take Jesus’s trial to the Civil Jurisdiction when they had “found” a “crime” under their own Law? It seems obvious that they were seeking the Roman imprimatur to bolster their own weak case. It set a terrible precedent. For the next twenty centuries persecutions launched by a Reigning Church often enlisted the State to carry out the executions. 
 
The Elite Elders brought their CONTRIVED charges before Pilate for what would become a very political Show Trial. Immediately they established their own Power Base with Pilate, insisting that he come outside his own Judgment Hall to meet them on their turf. Pilate obliged them, and throughout the course of the trial we read of him walking back and forth. When Pilate inquired about their charges against Jesus, they made a sweeping allegation that “if He were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up unto thee” (Luke 18:30). Pilate wasn’t buying it. They began winging it. They padded Jesus’s charges with extra FALSE accusations beyond the scope of their original investigations. Mark 15:3 records that “the Chief Priests accused him of many things.” (See also Matthew 27:13.) They even threw in the kitchen sink. Luke 23:2 says they accused Jesus of “forbidding to give tribute to Caesar,” another obvious distortion of His actual WORDS (Matt. 22:21, Mark 12:17, Luke 20:25). 
 
Pilate started off the hearing on a professional stance, but things quickly degenerated. He was a crafty political creature who accurately read their motives and conducted his hearing accordingly, “For he knew that for ENVY they had delivered Him” (Matthew 27:18). Pilate, like the Herod dynasty, was notorious for his use of blunt force rather than savvy diplomacy. Luke 13:1 mentions a previous gruesome act of his brutality: “There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.” 
 
“The lip of TRUTH shall be established for ever: 
but a LYING tongue is but for a moment.” 
(Proverbs 12:19)
 
 “What Is TRUTH?” 
John 18:38 records Jesus’s curious conversation with Pilate. He asked Jesus, “What is TRUTH?” Was Pilate asking a serious question? Was he mocking? Was he being facetious? Was he influenced by the ancient philosophers who were “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the TRUTH” (2 Tim. 3:7)? Was Pilate attempting to SPIN a NARRATIVE, questioning whether there is such a thing as absolute TRUTH? In a fascinating anecdote, John 18:38 tells us that Pilate didn’t wait around for an answer, but immediately “went out again to the Jews, and saith unto them, ‘I find in him no fault at all.’” 
 
Luke 23 records that Pilate sent Jesus over to Herod Antipas’s jurisdiction, either for some sport or maybe to pass the buck. “And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see Him of a long season, because he had heard many things of Him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by Him” (Luke 23:8). This is the same Herod who had beheaded John the Baptist in a capricious act of cruel injustice. Prior to this Jesus had done nothing to ingratiate Himself to this Herod – calling him “that fox” when some conscientious Pharisees had warned Him that “Herod will kill Thee.” He even forewarned Herod via the messengers that “the third day I shall be perfected” (Luke 13:31-33). Herod apparently didn’t want to hear the TRUTH either. Under Herod’s jurisdiction Jesus suffered more mocking and rough brutality. 
 
Cancel Culture politics is very fickle about friends and enemies. In one day, out the next, or vice versa. After this interrogation a new liaison formed: “And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves” (Luke 23:12). This was a newfound Political Alliance that the Chief Priests probably hadn’t counted on. 
 
“And Pilate, when he had called together the Chief Priests
and the Rulers and the people, Said unto them,
Ye have brought this Man unto me,
as One that perverteth the people:
and, behold, I, having examined Him before you,
have found NO FAULT in this Man touching those things whereof ye ACCUSE Him:
No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to Him;
and, lo, NOTHING worthy of death is done unto Him.”

(Luke 23:13-15) 
 
Manipulating the Masses 
The badly battered Jesus was sent back to Pilate. When Pilate offered the Religious Establishment a choice between Jesus and the REAL criminal Barabbas the “robber” (John 18:40), the Leaders organized street riots, “a TUMULT” (Matt. 27:24) to violently PROCLAIM their LIE. They revved up raucous crowds to CRY bloody murder: “crucify Him!” (Mark 15:13). This incitement of the mob created unrest, riots and civil destabilization, a volatile tactic to achieve the PHONY verdict they desired. These unethical Elder Leaders employed Mob Violence as a tool to achieve their own dastardly purposes. 
 
Which raises an interesting question – just how politically corrupt were these Chief Priests that they could so quickly organize a mass riot? Jesus had only been arrested late the night before, and already the Gang of Elders had managed to orchestrate large chanting crowds as a volatile Pressure Tactic. This whole MOB matter just doesn’t have the feel of a spontaneous uprising. Had the Priestly Class been supporting a group of ruffians, freeloaders, activists and zealots in the background just in case they ever needed to display their Political Clout? A Criminal Class that gladly cried the release of their Comrade in crime, Barabbas, “Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison” (Luke 23:15)? Barabbas was the TRUE insurrectionist (Mark 15:7), but Jesus had assured Pilate that His “kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). 
 
For they are a nation void of COUNSEL,
neither is there any understanding in them....
Their wine is the poison of dragons,
and the cruel venom of asps.

(Deuteronomy 32:28, 33)
 
 
Verdict by Verbal Assault 
The Religious Authorities hurled their WORDS like weapons to bash Pilate with their NARRATIVE. Luke 23 tells us the progression of increasing VERBAL assaults that the Religious Authorities spewed. First, they were “all the more FIERCE” (v. 3) with their myriad of accusations. Then they “stood and VEHEMENTLY ACCUSED Him” (v. 10). When it seemed Pilate might release Him, “they CRIED OUT ALL AT ONCE” (vs. 18). By verse 23 “they were INSTANT WITH LOUD VOICES, requiring that He might be crucified.” The verdict was won by the loudest SCREAMERS – “And the VOICES of them and of the Chief Priests prevailed.” Their histrionic rhetoric became more and more vitriolic – once again indicating the inferiority of their actual legal case. 
 
When Pilate heard Jesus’s response to their TRUE claim that “He made Himself the Son of God” (John 19:7), Pilate flinched. Maybe he was disturbed by that strange dream his wife had about Jesus (Matt. 27:19). After all, the Romans were very superstitious. At the time of Christ, the Romans were still butchering animals and examining their entrails to ascertain divine guidance. When the Romans conquered new territories they simply added in the conquered gods to their already burgeoning pantheon. So Pilate might have panicked – just what sort of “son of God” was Jesus? Who WAS He? Whose SON was He? What sort of “god” was this humble Hebrew fellow? 
 
Seizing upon this momentary weakness the chief priests switched their NARRATIVE to the charge “King of the Jews.” In doing so they left Moses’s LAW in the dust. They then invoked Roman political authority and legal jurisdiction, threatening Pilate: “If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar” (John 19:12). So much for their pretense at religious sanctity. Their new charge was TREASON against Rome! They even stated a dreadful OATH, “His blood be on us, and our children” (Matthew 27:25). 
 
Pilate caved, but he was no dummy. Pilate would satirize their NARRATIVE, which irritated the Religious Establishment greatly, by posting “The King of the Jews” on Jesus’s cross (John 19:19-22). Fearing people would take it as literal TRUTH, the chief priests begged Pilate, “Write not, The King of the Jews; but that He said, I am King of the Jews” (John 19:21 – a relativistic statement to the effect that this was just Jesus’s personal “truth” – not THE TRUTH. Pilate didn’t give in to their demands this time. He had caught on to their semantic gymnastics. Thus, he posted the actual TRUTH openly on Jesus’s cross so all could read it. 
 
The Religious Establishment was not content to leave matters alone. They had to get their digs in. They provocatively REVILED Jesus about His “three days” statement while He hung on the cross (Matthew 27:39-40). Their words would soon backfire on them. . . . 
 
“But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities,
the chastisement of our peace was upon Him;
and with His stripes we are healed.”

(Isaiah 53:5)

 
To Be Continued….