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."Luke 23:2(NASB)
Jesus was looking forward to eating the feast of Passover with His disciples. He knew victory over sin, Satan, death and hell would be gained, following His sacrificial death and glorious resurrection - but first He had to face the terrors of the cross, when He would bear the sin of the world on His shoulders.
As the time for His exodus drew closer, we read of the terrible plot to kill Him - the treachery of Judas who betrayed Him; 'the Lord's Supper' which continues as a memorial to Him, and the shocking prediction that Peter would deny his Lord - three times.
But the anguish in Gethsemane; the mocking of the soldiers and the Sanhedrin's illegal trial, where He was falsely condemned of blasphemy, ALL had to be endured before Jesus was led away by the entire multitude, to undergo a civil trial, before Pilate - the Roman governor.
The speed of events on that last night were unprecedented. Only hours earlier, the disciples had been arguing about who would be the greatest in the kingdom, and the gospel of John describes the beautiful example of service and servant-hood - when Jesus took off His garment; tied a towel around his waist and began to wash the disciples' feet.
The trial before the religious court of the Jews, which took place in the dead of night, was illegal and every requirement of the Mosaic Law was broken by the High Priest and his co-conspirators. Before the dawn, these evil men found Jesus guilty, and marched Him to the governor's residence, with three political accusations against Him.
First, He was charged with perverting the people and stirring up strife. Second, He was accused of being an anarchist who was turning the people against the Roman constitution and finally they accused Him of challenging Caesar, because He claimed He was a king! We read in this verse. "and they began to accuse Him, saying, "We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying He Himself is Christ, a King."
Every accusation against Him was illegitimate. They accused Him of incitement to riot, but nothing was further from the truth. He was meek and lowly and came to save His people from their sin. Jesus came to give them rest from their labour; spiritual nourishment for their soul - forgiveness of sin and life everlasting. He came to re-establish the nations' covenant with God, so they would return to being His chosen people, who would tell the world of God's goodness and grace.
The Jewish authorities also accused him of incitement to oppose the government by withholding taxes from Rome. The Jewish leaders had attempted to trick Him by asking whether or not it was lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar. His wise answer exposed their trickery, when He replied, "render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's".
The final accusation was perhaps the most shocking. Jesus, the anointed Messiah of God was their rightful King. He had been sent from the Father to set up His kingdom of righteousness - not a worldly kingdom but the kingdom of heaven, but FIRST His people had to repent of their sin and believe on the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of sin.
The three false accusations made against Jesus escalated further when they cried, "We have no king but "Caesar" "let His blood be on us and on our children" - "Crucify Him". But as He hung on Calvary's cross, shedding His blood for every one of His bitter accusers... and for us, He was heard to pray, Father.. forgive them for they know not what they do.
Heavenly Father, as I consider Christ's trial before Pilate and the circumstances surrounding His crucifixion, I wonder if I would have been among those that accused Him... or part of the believing remnant. Would I have denied Him or remained faithful? Thank You that by Your grace I heard the gospel and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of my sins. Thank You that He was willing to face a barrage of false accusation and terrible suffering on my account. Thank You for 2000 years of grace - and I pray that many people may come to faith in His sacrificial death and glorious resurrection today... and in the brief time we have left. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.