Artist Hieronymus Bosch painted Christ carrying his cross in 1505. Christ was surrounded in the painting by such notably ghoulish and revolting characters that we would have difficulty identifying with those that crowded around our Lord while he carried his final burden. Snaggle-toothed with a grotesque caricature of Semitic features. We could not very easily get close to the crowd that Bosch painted in his scene of Christ carrying the cross. Perhaps that could make both him and us comfortable. As long as those are so ugly and caricatured that we cannot identify with them, then it's difficult for us to paint ourselves into that picture. We automatically assume that had we been on the scene we would have stood beside Christ rather than beside Caiaphas. Yet if we were to bring the trial of Jesus out of antiquity and make it for us the living Word of God, we must address this by putting ourselves into that picture of those gathered around the Christ.
We speak of his trial. There were actually six of them. Three before the religious or ecclesiastical authorities, and three before the Roman or political authorities. Hastened to Annas, the father-in-law of the high priest at midnight, turned over to Caiaphas, his degenerate son-in-law, and then placed before hardly a quorum of the Supreme Court, Jesus endured the indignity of his religious inquisition. Then before Pilate, and that hasty attempted change of venue to Herod of Galilee, and then back to Pilate again with indignity and with injustice. Yet it is in the religious trial of Jesus that I think we could best identify ourselves. For Pilate was a confused Roman who hardly knew the issues that were at hand. It is in the religious trial of Jesus that the real malignancy, ...
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Dr. Joel C. Gregory is Director of the Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching, holder of the George W. Truett Endowed Chair of Preaching and Evangelism at Baylor's Truett Seminary, and the founder of Joel Gregory Ministries.