The high-stakes, emotionally charged confirmation hearings for now U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh exposed deep fault-lines between powerful forces in high places. The intense drama of the spectacle reminded me of another epic contest many centuries ago.
The Trial of the Ages
Some 2,000 years ago, there was a trial before Pontius Pilate that profoundly influenced not only the course of a nation, Israel, but the arc of human history. Truth hung in the balance.
Jesus said, “For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice. Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?’”1
The forces arrayed were formidable: Israel’s religious establishment, the Roman empire, surging crowds of brutally oppressed commoners, and the invisible armies of good and evil. All of this over a humble carpenter from the sticks!
Jesus came from a small village most people never heard of, the child of an impoverished family. He grew up and worked as a carpenter until He was 30 years old.
For three years, He was a teacher who traveled from village to village. He never wrote a book. He was never elected to be the leader of any group or organization. He never had a family or owned his own home. He did not go to college or have any diplomas or degrees.
The world didn’t think of Him as a great man. He never traveled far from the place where He was born.
And yet, in fulfilment of ancient scriptural prophecies, He was about to change the course of human history:
“As a sheep led to slaughter,
and quiet as a lamb being sheared,
He was silent, saying nothing.
He was mocked and put down, never got a fair trial.”2
On a strictly human level, Jesus’ so-called trial was a sham: Betrayed by a friend, railroaded into one phony “hearing” after another, false accusations, tainted witnesses, not a single voice raised in His defense, humiliating public “kangaroo court,” scourged, crucified, abandoned by friends, His family openly disgraced.
But that was only the start. On the spiritual level, it was even worse for Him.
The Cosmic Battle for Our Souls
This winsome, gentle, sinless innocent from another dimension was made our scapegoat as God transferred the shame, guilt and punishment for mankind’s sin onto his son, making him, from a legal perspective, a sinner.
Theologian Arthur Custance wrote:
“Can we have even the remotest conception of what it would mean for One who was morally perfect, pure in spirit in the absolute sense, without the slightest taint of guilt in any form and altogether sinless, to be suddenly held responsible for the appalling record of crime and injustice and brutality and hatred and insane cruelty that marks the frightful record of human history from the murder of Abel to the extermination centers and labor camps of today? What would it mean to be so accounted guilty that the Father Himself turned away from his beloved Son as One who now, as the sin-bearer, was abhorrent in his sight?
“In these three hours the Lord Jesus was made a sin-offering; He became effectively the doer of this frightfulness not only in the sight of man, but in the sight of God and the whole host of heaven. He who was Himself blameless assumed full responsibility and was to blame. He who was pure was made vile. He who was holy was made unholy with the leprosy of our sin. He who was the very expression of love became as hateful as sin itself. He who was without spot was infected with the cancer of our wickedness. He who knew no sin was made sinful by identification …
“When He (Christ) was made sin and a curse … it was tantamount to an eternal death, or the suffering of the wicked in hell … He could not cry out, ‘Father, forgive me!’ He could not cry, ‘God, have mercy upon me!’
“On what grounds could mercy be extended to HIM? On no ground, except the completion of his sacrifice, could any mercy be extended to anyone. On what basis could his reprieve be granted — except all others forfeit the forgiveness He had come to guarantee them? For on the fullness of his sacrifice depended all other forgiveness.”
How About You?
Can you conceive of what Jesus Christ went through to secure a place in heaven for you? It is sometimes referred to as the great exchange …
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”3
Almost 2,000 years have come and gone, and today He is the most important Person in the human race. Time is divided by His birth and death.
All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the governments that ever governed, all the kings who ever ruled, put together have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as Jesus Christ.
— D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and Internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity’s basic “value proposition.” Click here for more information. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.
1. John 18:37-38 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
2. Acts 8:31-33 The Message
3. 2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB