Matthew 27:11-20, Mark 15:1-5, Luke 23:1-10, John 18:28-38
In the Praetorium, Jesus was led to the defendant’s table, whilst the Caiaphas, who was representing the priests, stood at the plaintiff’s table.
The clerk stepped forwards and announced, ‘Order! All rise.’
Governor Pontius Pilate, who was the acting judge for Judea, entered from his chamber and took a seat at the judge’s bench.
The clerk approached Pilate and said, ‘This is case number 86 on the calendar, the matter of the people versus Jesus of Nazareth. Parties have been sworn in.’ Then he turned to the gallery and said, ‘You may be seated.’
Pilate looked at Caiaphas and asked, ‘What charges do you bring against this man?’
‘Well, just look at him!’ exclaimed Caiaphas. ‘He’s got that goatee and hippy hair; he’s clearly evil!’
The governor leaned forwards and yelled, ‘That’s speculation! What are the charges?’
‘He’s a blasphemer who claims to be the messiah!’
‘That’s a religious matter. Why don’t you try him according to your laws?’
‘Because,’ answered Caiaphas, ‘we seek the death penalty, and we aren’t authorised to do so.’
‘The death penalty for blasphemy?’ chided Pilate. ‘What kind of backwards society would sentence someone to death for blasphemy?’
‘Well… erm… we used to before you Romans took over…’ stuttered Caiaphas. ‘But how about this: he was perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that he is the king of the Jews!’
Pilate looked at Jesus and asked, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’
‘Are you asking on your own behalf, or are you just doing what they tell you?’ replied Jesus.
‘Am I a Jew?’
‘No,’ answered Jesus. ‘Nor did I say you were one.’
‘Good,’ answered the governor. ‘So, what’s your story?’
‘I rule a kingdom up in the clouds and sit upon a throne next to my father who plans to have me killed to make up for a guy who lived long ago eating an apple.’
‘Makes sense,’ nodded Pilate. ‘But are you the king of the Jews.’
‘Yes,’ said Jesus.
Pilate shrugged and turned back to Caiaphas. ‘He says he’s the king of the Jews.’
‘But he’s lying!’ protested Caiaphas.
The governor said to Jesus, ‘He says you’re lying.’
‘No, he’s lying,’ replied Jesus.
Pilate said to Caiaphas, ‘He says you’re lying.’
‘I’m not!’ objected the high priests.
‘He says he’s not,’ said the governor to Jesus.
‘Well, he’s a big stinky head,’ retorted Jesus.
Pilate looked back at Caiaphas and said, ‘He says you’re a big stinky head.’
‘Oh, for fuck’s sake!’ fumed Caiaphas. ‘What kind of courtroom is this?’
‘This is a Roman court!’ hissed Pilate. ‘You might find our ways strange compared to yours, but I’ll have you know that we’re world-renowned for our jurisprudence!’
‘Sorry,’ replied Caiaphas.
‘I find no basis to charge him,’ sighed Pilate.
But the high priest insisted, ‘He stirs up the people all over Judea with his blasphemous teachings! He came all the way from Galilee to subvert the very fabric of society!’
‘Wait. He’s from Galilee?’
‘Oh, well that’s not even in my jurisdiction!’ declared Pilate. ‘Send him to Herod!’
‘Argh!’ yelled Caiaphas, throwing his court papers down.
So, Jesus was sent to Herod, who was staying in the Good Samaritan Hotel. When Jesus arrived, Herod was sitting in a recliner with a glass of whisky. Herod was thrilled to see him because he’d been plotting to kill him since he was a baby.
‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,’ sighed Herod, taking a sip of his whisky. ‘I had a feeling we’d cross paths again.’
Jesus didn’t respond.
‘What’s the matter, Jesus?’ taunted Herod. ‘Cat got your tongue?’
Still, Jesus was silent.
‘Well, since you won’t talk, let me tell you something. I’m going to send you back to Pontius with the express instruction to nail you to a cross until you’re dead, dead, dead!’
Herod laughed maniacally as the soldiers dragged Jesus from the room.
Later that day, Pilate sat in his judge’s chair before the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of law, and declared, ‘You brought this man to me saying that he was inciting rebellion. I have listened to the evidence from both parties, and I even sought the counsel of Herod. He told me a strange tale about a miraculous birth and some magi, which honestly didn’t make much sense to me. But he also advised me to find Jesus guilty.’
The crowd began to whoop victoriously.
‘However,’ continued Pilate, ‘I can see no basis to execute this man, and I am forced to find him not guilty!’
The assembly groaned.
‘Therefore, Jesus of Nazareth will get a slap on the wrist and be set free!’
By this time, the crowd was jeering and booing, and one of the priests shouted, ‘Crucify him!’
The rest of the men joined in chanting, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’
‘But he’s committed no crime!’ objected Pilate.
But the rabble continued to chant louder, until Pilate at last relented and decreed, ‘Against my better judgement, Jesus of Nazareth is sentenced to death by crucifixion.’