The Trial That Wasn’t


            “Hear ye, hear ye, the First Court of Pilate is now assembled to hear the matter put before it, namely, the People of Israel versus one Jesus, son of Joseph.  Are the accusers present?”


            “We are, your excellency.”


            “Is the accused present?”




            “Is the accused present, I say?”


            “He is here, and his silence speaks volumes,” said the priest in the dark robe.


            “All rise, his Excellency the most honorable and holy Pilate enters now.”


            The crowd rises, those not already standing, and Pilate takes his seat behind the table on an elevated throne-like chair, and addresses the audience:


            “Who accuses this man?”


            One of the priests answers, “The noble and honorable people of Israel.”


            “What is it that he stands accused of?”


            “We have found him to be guilty of blasphemy and would, by our law, put him to death.”


            “Blasphemy – is not that a matter for your own consideration?  Why do you trouble me with a question of religious propriety?”


            “Noble sir, we have not the power to execute the sentence of death and have therefore come before thee for such authority.  Will you pronounce him guilty of a capitol offence and have him put to death for us?”


            “Blasphemy against your law is not an offence that allows death under our laws.  I cannot believe that you have brought me from my chambers for such a matter as this.”


            The chief priests assembled for a moment and then one stepped forward and said, “Most noble Pilate, this man also would make himself a king in the place of Caesar.  Surely that is an offence worthy of death under the laws of Rome.”


            “If that be the case, then surely you are correct.  What is it that he has done or said to allow for such an accusation?”


            “Often we have heard him say that he came to be the king of the Jews – of course, we would have none of it, we are loyal subjects of the most holy and exalted Caesar.”


            “Have you any witnesses or evidence to support your claim?”


            “Will not the most noble Governor accept us at our word?  We are honest men and most honorable.”


            “Had you been honest and honorable, my government would not have seen fit to take from your government the power of life and death.  Have you any witnesses or evidence?”


            “Indeed, we do.  Pray give us an hour to collect the people?”


            “You have your hour.”


            About one hour later the chief priests came back and Pilate entered the court again and instructed them to proceed.  They put forth one man who said that Jesus came to be king and announced the same to his disciples and that they had even claimed that his rule would be greater and more glorious than that of Augustus.  When Pilate sought to piece together the details and question him, it became evident that he disagreed even with himself on many points.


            The next witness was followed by the next until about three hours had elapsed.  Pilate had seen clearly that these men were not honest witnesses, far from honest – they were obviously intentionally speaking falsehoods.  He would have dismissed the charges at this point, but seeing that he had formerly had great trouble with this city, and that they had often conspired with other rulers against him, he knew that he could not end the proceeding at this point.  He turned to the accused and said,


            “Jesus, have you anything to say for yourself?”


            He answered nothing.


            “Do you not realize that these men are seeking your life, and that I can give it to them if I please?”


            “You could give nothing but for the power my Father allows you to have.”


            “Ah, he speaks.  What of the charges they bring?  How do you plead?”




            “Will any here speak for him?”


            There then stepped forward one Luke, a physician by trade and training, and said, “Noble Pilate, I would speak for him – if it please the court.”


            “Say on.”


            “I have here a young man at whose wedding feast Jesus was an invited guest.  May he speak?”


            “He may.”


            The young man stood forth and said, “Most noble Pilate, this man, Jesus, came to my wedding feast and performed there a great miracle.  We are not a wealthy family, and when our supply of wine had been exhausted this man took ordinary water and turned it into wine so that we might be spared the shame of poverty in the eyes of our guests.”


            “A worker of miracles is he?  And did he then plot against holy Caesar in your presence?”


            “No, indeed.  I have never heard him speak a word against anyone in Rome.  Although he has often spoken of the corruption and wickedness of these godless men…”


            This caused an uproar among the chief priests, and order had to be restored.


            “Eloquent physician, Have you another witness?”


            “Yes, noble Pilate.  I have here a certain nobleman of Capernaum.  May he speak?”


            “Say on.”


            “Most noble Pilate, This man, Jesus, entered into Galilee and I, having heard of his greatness, besought him earnestly to come and heal my son, who was at the point of death.  He merely spoke the words and as I turned to leave and make my way back home I was met by my servants who brought the tidings, ‘Thy son liveth.’  Upon inquiry, I learned that he had been made whole at the selfsame hour as Jesus had spoken the words.”


            “And did he, in your presence, conspire against Caesar?”


            “Not so much as a word, your honor.”


            “Doctor Luke, have you another witness?”


            “If it please the court, I would hear now the testimony of some fishermen who happened to be standing near when yet another miracle was performed by this alleged insurrectionist.”


            “We will hear from one of them.”


            “As you wish, most noble Pilate, but may it be noted by the court that there are upwards of two dozen here with them willing to support the testimony of the one.”


            “So noted.”


            “Gov’ner, we was standing by the dock when this here man came up to the shore and started hollerin’ at the folks in a little boat ‘bout 15 yards out.  Seems they was fishin’ all night and hadn’t caught nothin’.  He told ‘em to try the other side o’ the boat an’ they did an’, yure honor, in all my born days I ain’t never seen the likes of fish hauled in.  I her’d he weren’t no fisherman hisself, but still when they did what he said they caught so many they had to be hoped by their friends.”


            “And did you see or hear any treasonous activity from him or them?”


            “None ‘tall.”


            “The court thanks you kindly for your testimony.  Good doctor, have you more witnesses?”


            “Yes, your honor, if it please the court, I have two – a mother and her son.”


            “Say on.”


            “Your honor, most noble Pilate, my boy here was possessed with an unclean devil and went about all places crying out with a loud voice and hurting himself and in general being a nuisance.  This man, Jesus, came and but spoke the words, ‘Hold thy peace, and come out of him’ and the devil left my boy, didn’t hurt him, and never came again.”


            “And did this man do this for you, son?”


            “Indeed, your honor, it was amazing beyond description.”


            “And did he ask anything of you?”


            “Not one coin.”


            “And did he say or do anything of a treasonous nature in your presence?”


            “Not so much as a syllable or a movement.”


            “Thank you.  Does the prosecution wish to address the court with a motion of dismissal?”


            “No, your honor, but we would like to point out…”


            “Hold your peace, for now.  Good doctor Luke, have you another witness?”


            “Yes, your honor, I have a man here from whom Jesus banished the disease of leprosy.”


            “Bring him forth and let him speak.”


            “Your honor, I appealed to this man, Jesus, saying, ‘Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.’  He but spoke the words, ‘I will; be thou clean,’ and immediately I was made whole.”


            Many others came forward, among them:


            “And I, your honor, mother-in-law to Simon, was healed of a fever…”


            “And I, a centurion in Caesar’s service, received my servants’ health again…”


            “And I, a paralytic can walk…”


            “And I, an impotent man, am whole…”


            “And I, a poor widow, received my dead son alive again…”


            “And I, who surely would have died in a storm on the sea, am before thee because this man, Jesus stilled the storm…”


            “And we, of Gadara, had devils cast out of us by this man, Jesus..”


            “My hand was restored me by this man, Jesus…”


            “I, Jairus, received my sick daughter whole again…”


            “My issue of blood was cleared up…”


            “We blind men see now…”


            “My demon was cast out…”


            “We saw him feed five thousand with but a few fish and some bread…”


            “We saw him walk on the sea…”


            “I, of Syrophenicia, have my daughter alive…”


            “I am one of four thousand fed by this man, Jesus…”


            “I, who was deaf and dumb, hear and speak…”


            “I, who was blind, see now…”


            “My lunatic child was healed…”


            “I saw him produce the tribute money from the mouth of a fish…”


            “I, Lazarus, was dead and am alive again…”


            “I was rid of a spirit of infirmity…”


            “I no longer suffer from dropsy…”


            “I see…”


            “I witnessed the cursing of the fig-tree…”


            “I, Malchus, stand before you whole…”


            The mother of Jesus made her way in and was willing to speak on his behalf, but it was not needed.  Hear the summation of Pilate:


            “I have heard the accusations of these men against this man, and I have but one question:  Jesus, son of Joseph and Mary, would you be king?”


            “My kingdom is not of this world.”


            “I have heard your accusers and the conflicting testimony of their witnesses.  I have seen evidence of a good man, a healer, one who casts out demons, one who performs wonderful works; but I have failed to see a treasonous man.  I am satisfied.  Jesus, the government of Rome finds in you no fault.  You may go.  Guards, bind these priests and ready them for the punishment they sought against this innocent man.”  With the bang of a wooden mallet Pilate said, “Court is in recess.”


H. L. Gradowith


Hosted by