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The Great Controversy, by Ellen G. White, [1858], at



The Trial of Christ


The angels as they left heaven, in sadness laid off their glittering crowns.  They could not wear them while their commander was suffering, and was to wear a crown of thorns.  Satan and his angels were busy in that judgment hall to destroy humanity and sympathy.  The very atmosphere was heavy and polluted by their influence.  The chief priests and elders were inspired by them to abuse and insult Jesus, in a manner the most difficult for human nature to bear.  Satan hoped that such insult and sufferings would call forth from the Son of God some complaint or murmur; or that he would manifest his divine power, and wrench himself from the grasp of the multitude, and thus the plan of salvation at last fail.

Peter followed his Lord after his betrayal.  He was anxious to see what would be done with Jesus.  And when he was accused of being one of his disciples, he denied it.  He was afraid of his life, and when charged with being one of them, he declared that he knew not the man.  The disciples were noted for the purity of their words, and Peter, to deceive, and convince them that he was not one of Christ’s disciples, denied it the third time with cursing and swearing.  Jesus, who was some distance from Peter, turned a sorrowful reproving gaze upon him.  Then he remembered the words which Jesus had spoken to him in the upper chamber, and also his zealous assertion, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.  He denied his Lord, even with cursing and swearing; but that look of Jesus melted Peter at once, and saved him.  He bitterly wept and repented of his great sin, and was converted, and then was prepared to strengthen his brethren.

The multitude were clamorous for the blood of Jesus.  They cruelly scourged him, and put an old purple, kingly robe upon him, and bound his sacred head with a crown of thorns.  They put a reed in his hand, and mockingly bowed to him, and saluted him with, Hail king of the Jews!  They then took the reed from his hand, and smote him with it upon the head, causing the thorns to penetrate his temples, sending the trickling blood down his face and beard.

It was difficult for the angels to endure the sight.  They would have delivered Jesus out of their hands; but the commanding angels forbade them, and said that it was a great ransom that was to be paid for man; but it would be complete, and would cause the death of him who had the power of death.  Jesus knew that angels were witnessing the scene of his humiliation.  I saw that the feeblest angel could have caused that multitude to fall powerless, and delivered Jesus.  He knew that if he should desire it of his Father, angels would instantly release him.  But it was necessary that Jesus should suffer many things of wicked men, in order to carry out the plan of salvation.

There stood Jesus, meek and humble before the infuriated multitude, while they offered him the meanest abuse.  They spit in his face - that face which they will one day desire to be hid from, which will give light to the city of God, and shine brighter than the sun -- but not an angry look did he cast upon the offenders.  He meekly raised his hand, and wiped it off.  They covered his head with an old garment; blindfolded him, and then struck him in the face, and cried out, Prophesy unto us who it was that smote thee.  There was commotion among the angels. They would have rescued him instantly; but their commanding angel restrained them.

The disciples had gained confidence to enter where Jesus was, and witness his trial.  They expected that he would manifest his divine power, and deliver himself from the hands of his enemies, and punish them for their cruelty towards him.  Their hopes would rise and fall as the different scenes transpired.  Sometimes they doubted, and feared they had been deceived.  But the voice heard at the mount of transfiguration, and the glory they there witnessed, strengthened them that he was the Son of God.  They called to mind the exciting scenes which they had witnessed, the miracles they had seen Jesus do in healing the sick, opening the eyes of the blind, unstopping the deaf ears, rebuking and casting out devils, raising the dead to life, and even rebuking the wind, and it obeyed him.  They could not believe that he would die.  They hoped he would yet rise in power, and with his commanding voice disperse that blood-thirsty multitude, as when he entered the temple and drove out those who were making the house of God a place of merchandise; when they fled before him, as though a company of armed soldiers were pursuing them.  The disciples hoped that Jesus would manifest his power, and convince all that he was the King of Israel.

Judas was filled with bitter remorse and shame at his treacherous act in betraying Jesus.  And when he witnessed the abuse he suffered, he was overcome.  He had loved Jesus, but loved money more.  He did not think that Jesus would suffer himself to be taken by the mob which he had led on.  He thought that Jesus would work a miracle, and deliver himself from them.  But when he saw the infuriated multitude in the judgment hall, thirsting for his blood, he deeply felt his guilt, and while many were vehemently accusing Jesus, Judas rushed through the multitude, confessing that he had sinned in betraying innocent blood.  He offered them the money, and begged of them to release Jesus, declaring that he was entirely innocent.  Vexation and confusion kept the priests for a short time silent.  They did not wish the people to know that they had hired one of Jesus’ professed followers to betray him into their hands.  Their hunting Jesus like a thief and taking him secretly, they wished to hide.  But the confession of Judas, his haggard and guilty appearance, exposed the priests before the multitude, showing that it was hatred that had caused them to take Jesus.  As Judas loudly declared Jesus to be innocent, the priests replied, What is that to us? See thou to that.  They had Jesus in their power, and they were determined to make sure of him.  Judas, overwhelmed with anguish, threw the money that he now despised at the feet of those who had hired him, and in anguish and horror at his crime, went and hung himself.

Jesus had many sympathizers in that company, and his answering nothing to the many questions put to him amazed the throng.  To all the insults and mockery not a frown, not a troubled expression was upon his features.  He was dignified and composed.  He was of perfect and noble form.  The spectators looked upon him with wonder.  They compared his perfect form, his firm, dignified bearing, with those who sat in judgment against him, and said to one another that he appeared more like a king to be entrusted with a kingdom than any of the rulers.  He bore no marks of being a criminal.  His eye was mild, clear and undaunted, his forehead broad and high.  Every feature was strongly marked with benevolence and noble principle.  His patience and forbearance were so unlike man, that many trembled.  Even Herod and Pilate were greatly troubled at his noble, God-like bearing.

Pilate from the first was convicted that he was no common man, but an excellent character.  He believed him to be entirely innocent.  The angels who were witnessing the whole scene noticed the convictions of Pilate, and marked his sympathy and compassion for Jesus; and to save him from engaging in the awful act of delivering Jesus to be crucified, an angel was sent to Pilate’s wife, and gave her information through a dream that it was the Son of God in whose trial Pilate was engaged, and that he was an innocent sufferer.  She immediately sent word to Pilate that she had suffered many things in a dream on account of Jesus, and warned him to have nothing to do with that holy man.  The messenger bearing the communication pressed hastily through the crowd, and handed it to Pilate.  As he read it he trembled and turned pale.  He at once thought he would have nothing to do in the matter; that if they would have the blood of Jesus he would not give his influence to it, but would labor to deliver him.

When Pilate heard that Herod was at Jerusalem he was glad, and hoped to free himself from the disagreeable matter altogether, and have nothing to do in condemning Jesus. He sent him, with his accusers, to Herod.  Herod was hardened.  His murdering John left a stain upon his conscience which he could not free himself from, and when he heard of Jesus, and the mighty works done by him, he thought it was John risen from the dead.  He feared and trembled, for he bore a guilty conscience.  Jesus was placed in Herod’s hands by Pilate.  Herod considered this act an acknowledgment from Pilate of his power, authority and judgment.  They had previously been enemies, but then they were made friends.  Herod was glad to see Jesus, for he expected that he would work some mighty miracle for his satisfaction.  But it was not the work of Jesus to gratify his curiosity.  His divine and miraculous power was to be exercised for the salvation of others, but not in his own behalf.

Jesus answered nothing to the many questions put to him by Herod; neither did he regard his enemies who were vehemently accusing him.  Herod was enraged because Jesus did not appear to fear his power, and with his men of war, derided, mocked and abused the Son of God.  Herod was astonished at the noble, God-like appearance of Jesus, when shamefully abused, and feared to condemn him, and he sent him again to Pilate.

Satan and his angels were tempting Pilate, and trying to lead him on to his own ruin.  They suggested to him that if he did not take any part in condemning Jesus, others would; the multitude were thirsting for his blood; and if he did not deliver Jesus to be crucified, he would lose his power and worldly honor, and would be denounced as a believer on the impostor, as they termed him.  Pilate, through fear of losing his power and authority, consented to the death of Jesus.  And notwithstanding he placed the blood of Jesus upon his accusers, and the multitude received it, crying, His blood be on us and on our children, yet Pilate was not clear; he was guilty of the blood of Christ.  For his own selfish interest, and love of honor from the great men of earth, he delivered an innocent man to die.  If Pilate had followed his conviction, he would have had nothing to do with condemning Jesus.

The trial and condemnation of Jesus were working on the minds of many; and impressions were being made which were to appear after his resurrection; and many were to be added to the Church whose experience and conviction should be dated from the time of Jesus’ trial.

Satan’s rage was great as he saw that all the cruelty which he had led the chief priests to inflict on Jesus had not called forth from him the least murmur.  I saw that, although Jesus had taken man’s nature, a power and fortitude that was God-like sustained him, and he did not depart from the will of his Father in the least.


See Matthew 26:57-75, 27:1-31; Mark 14:53-72, 15:1-20; Luke 22:47-71, 23:1-25; John chap.18, 19:1-16


Next: Chapter 9. The Crucifixion of Christ