An Innocent Man
BY HEATH JARRETT
The gavel strikes with injustice. The verdict of kangaroo courts: An innocent man stands condemned. Jesus of Nazareth, a man without sin, pronounced innocent at every trial, was executed under Pontius Pilate. Innocence can be ignored. The gospels amplify this irony:
Judas: “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” (Matt 27:4).
Pilate's Wife: “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I
have suffered much because of him today in a dream” (Matt 27:19).
Pilate: “Why [crucify him], what evil has he done?” (Matt 27:23, Mark 15:14, Luke 23:22).
“I find no guilt in this man” (Luke 23:4, John 18:38).
“And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him” (Luke 23:15).
“I have found in him no guilt deserving death” (Luke 23:22).
“See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him” (John 19:4).
“Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him” (John 19:6).
The Centurion: “Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, 'Certainly this man was innocent!'” (Luke 23:47).
The cross of Christ proclaims both the injustice of man and the justice of God (Rom 3:21–26). Above the stench of human corruption stands a sovereign God who pronounces his righteous verdict. Sin demands death. But sinners may have a substitute: “. . . by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11). Therefore, God can be both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom 3:26).
Though Jesus was holy and undefiled, he was crucified in our place for our sin (1 Peter 2:22–25). Isaiah told us he would come—the Suffering Servant who would die our death with our sin on his back. Jesus “was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities. . . and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5, 6). The exchange is clear: innocence for iniquity. Loved ones, the only way to heaven is on the back of Christ. Cling to him!