Man's Trial of Jesus: Results Godward and Manward

Matthew 28  •  12 min. read  •  grade level: 7
This scene, or rather these scenes of Matt. 28 are very striking and solemn. In them we see Satan and man acting, doing deadly work, and telling out their thoughts and feelings toward God's holy One—He in meekness and grace submitting to all. Here He is seen as the unresisting Lamb, whether in man's cruel and wicked hands, or in the hand of Him who made Him sin for us, and dealt with Him accordingly. It is marvelous the perfection that comes out in this lowly, self-emptied One as He passes through these scenes. Moral glories surrounded Him, which God alone appreciated, which our hearts, even now, but feebly enter into, but which will be a wonder to us throughout eternity.
The blessed Jesus has passed through the trying scene of Gethsemane; sweat, as it were, great drops of blood, has rolled down from His precious brow; the dark, deep cup of anticipation has been emptied. He has submitted to be captured and bound by His enemies; and, having been led to the high priest's palace and condemned by him, He is sent to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, to receive further trial.
"And Jesus stood before the governor." How strangely inconsistent! God revealed in flesh, standing at the bar of man—man daring to try at his faulty tribunal his Creator; the King of kings standing bound, to be adjudged of the princes of this world; the holy One of God, Jehovah's fellow, in the power of man, unholy man, to do with Him as he pleased, staying not in his Satan-led course until he had stained his hands in the blood of the Lamb of God! Herein indeed was the culmination of human guilt, the worst of man's acts, the full expression of his badness and enmity against God; but at the same time the heart is relieved by the lowly grace, the profound humility, the unresisting love, and perfections of the blessed Lord Jesus Christ. Man's side could not be darker, but how wondrously bright that of the Son of God!
Man's trial of Jesus was a moment above all others in man's history. Scan the past and look into the future; however bad it may be, it seems not to rise up to this. Man's future attempts to dispute with the rightful Heir (Rev. 19:11-2111And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. 17And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; 18That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. 19And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. 20And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh. (Revelation 19:11‑21)) will be but the result of his seeking to get rid of Him here. His hands stained with His blood, and having succeeded in casting Him out of the inheritance (Matt. 21:33-4133Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: 34And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. 35And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. 37But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. 38But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. 39And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. 40When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. (Matthew 21:33‑41)), what more natural than that he should seek to retain an inheritance that he has "seized," and dispute the claims of the Son of man when He comes.
This trial of the Lord Jesus was a moment of deepest interest to the angels of heaven; for with what awe and deep feelings they must have gazed upon the scene, as it was in the ways of God with man. This act of man's, this full, deep and awful expression of his wickedness and what he was capable of doing, were but to be the moral judgment of man in the sight of God. "Now is the judgment of this world." John 12:3131Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. (John 12:31). After this it would be no longer man as a probationer, but as one judged already, although allowed to go on during the lingerings of divine grace and the accomplishment of God's purpose ere the sentence already passed be executed.
Now look at the scene. There is Pilate, the judge upon the seat of judgment, though not of justice; there are the priests and the people, Jews and Gentiles, kings and princes, yea, the representatives of the great human family; and in the midst stands Jesus the Son of God. What a moment for heaven and what a moment for earth!
Pilate says, "Art Thou the King of the Jews?"
The lowly prisoner says, "Thou sayest."
Pilate again speaks, but this time addresses the multitude before him, the accusers of Jesus: "Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?"
His wife's dream interrupts him; and the chief priests and elders incite the people on, that they should ask Barabbas and destroy Jesus.
Again the governor appeals to them: "Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you?"
What a moment! The Son of God and Barabbas are in the scales of human judgment. Which will man take? Whom will he choose?
Ali, listen! and let those who boast of human goodness be ashamed at the decision.
They said, "Barabbas."
"What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?"
They all say unto him, "Let Him be crucified."
But one more appeal, and all is over; the Roman governor, as if somewhat alive to the innocence of his prisoner, says, "Why, what evil hath He done?"
This only irritated the foes of Jesus and the enemies of justice, and, as if they thirsted for His blood and were angry at the delay, "They cried out the more, saying, Let Him be crucified."
The judge having washed his hands of condemned innocence, and the people having taken upon themselves the responsibility of the deed, though in nowise clearing Pilate, the trial closes. The innocent One is condemned; oppression rejoices against judgment—but for a little.
Jesus is hurried from Pilate's hall to the common hall, there to receive at the soldier's hands further insult and scorn, of which the scarlet robe, the crown of thorns, the reed, the spitting, and the smiting are the witnesses—but without a murmur. Wonderful perfection!
From the common hall He is hurried to a place outside of the city, then by wicked hands impaled on the tree. Here the sentence passed was executed; the blood thirsted for was obtained; and, as if to make sure of the death of the object of their hatred, they pierce His holy side with a spear; and, to give a finishing touch to the dark picture, and a fuller expression to the wickedness and hardness of their hearts, they deride and scoff at the expiring Sufferer.
But not a word that spoke of murmuring, or that expressed aught but love, escaped His lips, but rather the contrary- "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Luke 23:3434Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. (Luke 23:34).
Man has done his worst, and seemingly Satan has triumphed; they have, for a moment, prevailed against the Son of God.
But, let us not hurry on as if this were all in this scene. It was not all. Man and Satan have acted hitherto; but ere the blessed One expires, He has to tread other ground, pass through other scenes, bear a mightier load, hear and experience the roaring of deeper waters, feel a heavier hand, and endure greater woes and sorrows.
The blessed One passes from the dealings of man to the dealings of God; from the scene of the expression of human sin to that where atonement was made for it; from the stroke of man to the stroke of God; from the abandonment of man to the forsaking of God. He must, in His death, be not only the expression of human guilt, which His death was, viewed in one way, but He must also be made sin, and the hand of God must lay on Him, the holy Substitute, the sins and iniquities of His people. And as such, He must turn His face from Him! Now He is alone, absolutely alone—no angel to strengthen Him here, as in Gethsemane! Gethsemane's sorrows reach not to these, though they lead to them. Anticipation of the cup then, but here, the cup itself.
Ah, now listen! listen to that cry from amidst that darkness, and from the depth of those waves. Listen to the roar of those waters; but this voice rises above them all: "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"
These are scenes whither we cannot come; these are waters we cannot fathom; and, blessed be God, these are woes, though due to us, we shall never taste.
There was a distance between the ark and the host (Josh. 3:44Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore. (Joshua 3:4)). And the Lord had said to Peter, when he vainly thought he could follow Him, "Whither I go, thou canst not follow Me now; but thou shalt follow Me afterward." John 13:3636Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards. (John 13:36). Yes; when the terrible form of death had been taken away, and that which was its sting atoned for, and the strength of sin-the law—had in every way had its claims met, then Peter, as a martyr, could follow.
Flesh and blood would not avail him. Nothing short of the absolute perfection of the Lamb of God could stand in these roaring waves. The boastful Peter quailed at the words of a servant maid; but the One of whom we speak trusted in God, though forsaken and judged of Him.
Ah, yes; it is a reality of infinite worth to faith that He was judged of God. A substitute stands and acts in the place of another. So it was here. "The LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." "He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief; when Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin," etc. "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." (Isa. 539For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. (Isaiah 54:9).) "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree." 1 Pet. 2:2424Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (1 Peter 2:24). "Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification." Rom. 4:2525Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (Romans 4:25). What treasures these passages are to the believing sinner, and what a clear note they sound as to the precious doctrine of substitution! Jesus took our place; made Himself responsible for His people's sins; placed Himself under the dreadful consequences of His people's condition; and God inflicted upon Him all the righteous judgment due to them. "He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Cor. 5:2121For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21).
"Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost." All is finished; God is glorified; redemption is accomplished; salvation is procured; God in righteousness can carry out all the purposes of His grace and love. God is "just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Rom. 3:2626To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Romans 3:26)). Wonderful facts!
But will God wait until the third day to give expression to His appreciation of His Son, and His estimate of what was accomplished? Ah, no; true, the full pleasure of God was expressed when He, by His power and glory, raised Jesus from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in glory; but before that He told out in unmistakable language His delight and estimate.
"And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." vv. 5153. Instantaneous was the response from God, glorified about sin, to the holy Sufferer now dead upon the cross. The Lord Jesus died having finished the work; God immediately expressed His divine satisfaction with what was done. The veil is rent, the rocks rend, and the graves open. Blessed threefold testimony of the satisfaction of Heaven!
What a voice this has for the believer! God had no pleasure in the multitude of sacrifices in the old dispensation; but in this He has infinite pleasure, because now He can in grace come out to the sinner and conduct him as a pardoned and justified soul right into the very holiest of all. God can have the sinner with Himself. Nothing short of this could possibly satisfy the heart of God. In this He has infinite pleasure and delight. God in righteousness can save the sinner, and, the sinner thus saved can stand within the holiest, having no more conscience of sins—having a conscience purged by the blood of Jesus.
Thus we see that that which gave a full expression to man's sin and Satan's enmity, also manifested God's great love to man; and in His divine wisdom He turned that death which expressed man's wickedness into a channel of blessing to him on the ground of there having been, by the same death, a full atonement for sin made, and the accomplishment of redemption. Thus God in the fullest sense made the wrath of man to praise Him.
He is glorified about sin, and every claim of His moral government maintained and established, while at the same time the love of His heart finds satisfaction in carrying out its blessed purposes respecting man.
And through the whole, the perfection of the Lord Jesus is seen, standing in marked contrast w it h man's extreme wickedness, keeping the place of the dependent and obedient One, submitting to the will of the Father, and accomplishing that will by enduring the unutterable woes and horrors of the cross—that cross which not only involved man's hatred and Satan's power and enmity and a violent death at their hands, with all the exposure and ignominy attending it, but which also involved being made sin, being forsaken of God when bearing our sins.
Surely it is the Christian's joy and glory to know that He who went down so far that He could go no farther down, has been seated on the pinnacle of glory at God's right hand, having all power and judgment put into His hands, and that there He is crowned with glory and honor, and from thence will come to assert His rights.