If you didn’t know it, today, well at least about 2,000 years ago today, is the anniversary of the day that God was put on trial, convicted and killed. Here’s a snapshot of the trial. As with any trial, we have the prosecution representing the people, the defendant and the judge. The prosecution starts by listing God’s crimes…
At first the crimes seem extensive; the prosecution has pages and pages of crimes. Yet when they get to the last page the lead prosecutor sits down, pauses and says in a very low and slow voice so that the judge has to lean forward to hear him say, “This man’s greatest crime is that he’s not who he said he was. He is not God.”
The prosecutor doesn’t end there though. Like a whip he raises his voice, stands up and starts shouting, “This man’s greatest crime was that he claimed to be God. He is a lunatic. He’s a nobody from nowhere. All he is doing is causing problems. He gives people false hope and has fallen just short of instigating riots. This is just a man, He is not God. If he were God surely he could prove it right here, right now.” He turns his head to gaze at the defendant, but the defendant just sits there.
Unable to get a rise out of the defendant, the prosecutor goes back to his final accusation, “I want to reiterate that this man’s greatest crime was that he claimed to be God and yet, cannot prove it.” He sits down.
The defense has no-opening remarks other than to state that this man is who he said he was. The prosecution rolls their eyes and the judge orders a quick recess. The judge invites the defendant into his chambers. The judge has seen men die under his care and he knows the weight that this trial has. He asks him, “the prosecution has said that you claimed to be God,” and then before the judge asks his question he pauses, looks him in the eyes and says, “You are…God?” The response came confident, restrained and yet meek, “You have not asked a question, you yourself have said so.”
After the recess the prosecution brings up evidence. It’s very dramatic and magical. They try to get you watching one hand while the other hand is trying to steel your wallet. And then the prosecution rests. It is now the defenses turn and in a radical move they rest their case. No one, not even the prosecution saw that one coming. The prosecution, feeling as though they have just won, now confidently awaited the judge to give his judgment.
“I have found no fault with this man. Yet he will receive a brief sentence and then I shall release him.”
The courtroom erupts. A small contingency of people were relived, including the family of the defendant. Yet, the prosecution furious with this decision, demands death and starts beating their table demanding, “death death death…” until the majority of the crowd starts demanding death as well. Some wonder now who is responsible for instigating riots.
After order is restored. The judge says, “Very well. If it is death you want, then it is death you shall have. But let his blood be on your hands, not mine.”
The defendant has to carry his method of execution (imagine someone carrying an electric chair or stretcher). He lugs it through the town. Disgraced, disowned, exiled, depressed, oppressed, and humbled…if this is God he certainly isn’t acting like a God. No God would ever stand for a trial, conviction and sentence like this.
The next day the family and friends are grieved. The prosecution was relieved. The Judge, troubled. The day after that, the man was no where to be found. Could he have been telling the truth all along? Was he God?
Today the trial continues. We are the judge, prosecution and jury. We come to God with our laundry lists of unanswered prayers, missed opportunities, and faults. We set the terms of how we will put God on trial. And finally we’re the ones to sentence him to death, a sentience of exile from our lives. God sits there, endures and says that He is God. Sometimes it’s just enough to know that truth, sometimes it’s hard for us to face that truth, as was the case some 2,000 years ago.
Every time God is put on trial, no matter the severity or insignificance, the outcome is the same. God dies for you and me. They are not His crimes, they are ours and each time He puts up no fight or argument whatsoever. As I sat down to write this, I felt guilty for the times I have crucified Christ in my life. Not only that, but Jesus willingly takes my place when it’s my turn to be tried for my faults and shortcomings. No matter the trial, no matter the day, it’s not our justice that wins…it’s His grace.