On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood
The Rigged Trial
July 20, 2014
The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.
Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another, not made by man.’” Yet even then their testimony did not agree. (Mark 14:55-59, NIV)
Two events recently happened in our city of Springfield, Mo., that outraged us.
A 10-year-old girl was grabbed by a passing motorist. Onlookers got the license plate number and immediately reported it to the police. Within hours the man was captured, but the girl had been assaulted and shot to death. How could anyone be so cruel as to seize a little girl, walking home from visiting with a friend, and then subject her to violence and death by bullet?
A few weeks later in a very visible area, two Canada geese had made their home. The male goose was deliberately run over by a car, leaving the mother goose alone with her unhatched eggs. Not only did the motorist run over the goose, as captured by a surveillance camera, he turned around and ran over the goose a second time. What causes such madness?
A report came across the Internet today that an 8-months pregnant mother had been condemned to death by an Islamic court. She is scheduled to be flogged before she is executed. Her crime? Converting to Christianity and marrying a Christian man.
I could write the rest of this article about injustices that proliferate exponentially on a daily basis. There is madness in the world.
We open the Gospels and find Jesus — the purest, kindest, wisest Person who ever lived — as the object of deep acts of injustice. Can religious people, even religious leaders, do horrible things? Absolutely!
Even the history of institutional Christianity is rife with acts of injustice: Martin Luther making awful statements about Jews and peasants; John Calvin presiding over Servetus burning at the stake as a heretic; the popes of the past violently acting to take the lives of those who disagreed with them. Yes, religious people sin — no matter what faith they claim.
Nonreligious people sin as well — just witness the horrible acts of a Hitler, Stalin, or Mao. Or, how about the present injustice that discriminates against persons who value life and advocate sexual behavior that is taught in the Bible?
We live in an unjust world. No doubt about it! You see it in the religious trial of Jesus.
Every trial is supposed to have an indictment, with clear evidence presented of wrongdoing. This is totally absent in the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin. First, they cannot find a witness. Then, they found witnesses whose stories didn’t agree. Finally, they simply gave false testimony. No one presiding at the trial stepped in to stop it. It was rigged from beginning to end.
God lets people make choices. That’s the nature of free will. If we can select the good, it must mean we can also select to do what is wrong. We live in a world that is often violent. It’s the world Jesus came into, the world for which He died. His example teaches us that it is better to be wronged than to inflict wrong; better to suffer than to impose suffering.
A prayer of response
DR. GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.
On Your Mark