I wonder whether Jesus was given enough opportunities to defend himself, whether his trial was fair and whether the investigation was thorough. I want to know how it compares with typical criminal, political or treason trials of the time, both in Roman empire and worldwide, and also in comparison with the modern times.


No, no and no. But it doesn't matter.

  1. He was guilty of what he was charged of. Blasphemy. Claiming to be God.

  2. The thing he was guilty of did carry a death penalty under Jewish law.

  3. The Jews couldn't actually administer the death penalty, they had to get something to take to the Romans to get clearance.

  4. The Roman governor (Pontus Pilate) operated the trial as a political maneuver to stop a Jewish uprising (of the people that wanted to kill Jesus more so than of Jesus himself). He kept the peace by doing what the mob and religious leaders wanted. No claim was ever made of it being a fair trial.

  5. Nobody stopped to consider the fact that his claim was actually true. The final proof of that was in the pudding, and that wouldn't be served up for three more days.

Nobody has ever claimed the trial was fair or investigation thorough. But nobody cared then and I'm not sure why anybody would care now.

  • So Jesus was not given enough opportunities to provide proofs and the existing proofs neglected? – Anixx Dec 6 '12 at 15:33
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    It seems to me that claiming to be God was a crime under the law only in case such claims were false (am I wrong?). So in case he could convince the jury that he was in fact, God, he possibly could be set free. (By the way, did he really claim that he was God in the Gospels?) – Anixx Dec 6 '12 at 16:12
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    And, no matter what Andrew Lloyd Webber might have you think, Pilate was generally not much better than a mob boss. He was brutal and, by the accounts of contemporaries, really didn't give a rat's behind about justice. He hated his job, and everyone hated him. – Affable Geek Dec 6 '12 at 17:17
  • AFAIK execution by stoning was at least tolerated to Jews. Stephen in Acts 6-7 was found guilty only by Sanhedrin, not by Romans, and there's no mention of any problem Sanhedrin had with killing someone. But cross was much worse death for contemporary measures than stoning, and with respect to Jesus' followers the priests needed someone else to do the dirty work for them. Plus God's will, of course. – Pavel Dec 7 '12 at 19:22
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    Resurrection is my favorite flavor of pudding – Andrew Oct 2 '16 at 6:05

Caleb just posted and I am saying the same thing, but so my typing does not go to waste:

When you read the gospels carefully the trail of Christ was principally held in secret by the High Priest and the Sanhedrin where false witnesses were brought in to trap Christ. They sort of bungled at their attempts but eventually his own confession that he was the Christ easily gave them what they needed to hastily condemn him as a blasphemer. So to start of with the trial was rigged to simply achieve the murmurous desire of the religious leaders. However at the time of Christ the Sanhedran could not condemn to death, as the Jews were a vassal state under Rome. Under that government the Jews had to refer all capital crimes for a Roman decision.

As Rome did not care about their religious quarrels, the Jews had to further misrepresent the case to get their attention. Therefore they insinuated that Jesus was a political rebel not willing to submit to Caesar. Apparently he claimed to be 'King of the Jews', which meant he was like the Zealots who must be suppressed. The Jews also put it this way so that if Jesus was set free it might appear that the Governor Pilate did not himself respect Caesar. Basically the Jews gave Pilate no political choice.

On the other hand, like a sheep before the shearer Jesus chose not to defend himself as it was his purpose to die as an atoning sacrifice for sin.

Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. (Matthew 27:11-12, NIV)

Now of course this trial would not stand in today's legal system, at least among first world countries, however, judicially killing an innocent person back then was not entirely rare when we consider the many Christian martyr's just a few years later. Then again, to kill the only sinless man that ever walked this earth, while he being so meek, mild and perfect under every accusation can't really be compared to the injustice anywhere else ever committed in the history of the world. So in this sense there is no injustice quite like it, nor will their ever be.

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    +1. Your final paragraph was well worth restating my hurried points. – Caleb Dec 6 '12 at 15:20
  • Well It could be asserted that the Jews could anticipate all the misery which Jesus teaching would bring to their people in the future (as there were numerous religious strifes before than already). But my question is not whether the execution was justifyed on moral grounds. The question is whether he did have enough opportunities to defend himself, to present his cause, whether his case was duly examined compared to the judical standards of the time both in Rome and outside? – Anixx Dec 6 '12 at 15:42
  • I think you are claiming that the trial was unjust because he was sinless, but the jury seemingly could not know about that. So my question is whether his trial was better of worse in terms of quality compared to other trials irrespective of the suspect's own personality. – Anixx Dec 6 '12 at 15:46
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    Matt. 27: 18 (charge brought from envy), 19 (wife's dream: "innocent man"), 23-24 (washing hands on the matter) indicate that Pilate knew that Jesus was not guilty. Luke 23:14 ("no basis for your charges" [NIV], also John 18:38), 22 ("no grounds for the death penalty" [NIV]) further indicate Pilate's knowledge. – Paul A. Clayton Dec 6 '12 at 23:00
  • @Anixx - He was killed by Rome because the Jews pretended a man of peace was claiming to be a King who opposed Caesar. This was untrue and yet Jesus did not defend himself. The sinless part those committing the injustice were not mentally conscious of, although Pilate did sense the man was innocent which is why his hand had to be forced by those misrepresenting his fake crimes. – Mike Dec 6 '12 at 23:01

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