Why the Lord was Condemned

It is deeply interesting to see that all the endeavours to convict the Lord as worthy of death on the evidence of the false witnesses failed. It was for the truth that He died. This, and the inveterate hatred of the truth on the part of the leaders of Jews particularly, had to be clearly demonstrated. "We have a law," say they, "and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself THE SON OF GOD" (John 19:7). It was on His own confession as to this that they condemned Him. What a moving scene that must have been in the high priest's palace. False witness after false witness was called in order to find some ground for His death, and He answered never a word. He was not there to answer false charges or vindicate His own character, but for the truth. Then the high priest, seeing the futility of the proceedings, rose up from his seat in his excitement and charged Him in the name of the living God to tell them whether He was the Christ, the Son of God. To that charge the Lord had one answer, whatever the consequences He must bear witness to the truth. In his frenzy the high priest rent his clothes, by which act he destroyed his priesthood, and pronounced the Lord guilty of blasphemy. And they all answered, "He is guilty of death." Their verdict recalls the command in Deuteronomy 21:22, "And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and He be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree; his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day (for he that is hanged is accursed of God)." From that time onward they were determined that He should be hanged on a tree, the object not only of their accusations but, as they hoped, accursed of God.

But this confession that He was the Son of God on the part of the Lord was nothing to the Roman judge; he must have something more than that if he was to condemn him also. Hence the charge that He made Himself a king. When Pilate asked Him as to this He confessed the truth again. For this cause He had come into the world. Hence the accusation that Pilate wrote and placed over His head on the cross was not, This is the Son of God, but "This is Jesus, THE KING OF THE JEWS."

He was crucified, then, because He confessed He was the Son of God and a King. As Son of God He is the One who brought the revelation of God into the world, as the King He is the One who is to establish and maintain the rights of God in the world. The former is LOVE, the latter is RIGHTEOUSNESS. But neither the love of God nor the righteousness of God could be tolerated when they were set forth in all their perfection in Jesus. The love was spurned and the righteousness flouted. Caesar, the Roman tyrant, was preferable to God, revealed in Jesus, and so they crucified Him.

We may bless God that we know our Lord, both as the Son of God and the King of Israel, and that He is yet so to be owned by the nation that rejected Him, when they shall see Him, the Son of Man, sitting on the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven. And before the day of His public glory, we may rejoice that we have been brought into His assembly, where He is known as the Son of God, the Revealer of the Father's Name and heart, and the Lord, who establishes and maintains the rights of God even now. For in the midst of His brethren to whom He has declared the Father's Name, He sings praises to God, and so God is glorified (Heb. 2).