Imagine a courtroom where a man stands before the judge, the prosecution and his accusers. They are putting him on trial on trumped up charges, and they bring in witnesses after witness to testify against him, but none of the witness statements agree. Of course they don’t, since he is innocent of all wrongdoing. No matter. They are not actually interested in anything so much as justice here. In fact, they have already decided to find the man guilty — they’d just rather try and do it in something resembling the “proper way” going through the “correct protocol”.
Now imagine in your minds eye that the courtroom begins to move around a bit. Where the judge was sitting, now sits the accused. Where the accused was sitting now sits the judge. They have completely swapped places. The trial, so it turns out, was the exact opposite of what you first thought. Although the innocent man was in the dock, it wasn’t actually him on trial after all. He was judging his accusers. And although the unjust judge was presiding, it wasn’t him in charge after all. The accused was judging him.
When we read the account of Jesus in the dock, facing the hostility of the High Priest, Caiaphas, the elders and the scribes, we might marvel — as Pilate did later on — how he can remain silent and so serene in the midst of such hostility and facing charges that can see him crucified. The answer is this: He knows the story. He knows how it ends. He knows that though he is facing their judgement, and the wrath of God, the true judgement is flowing the other way around. It is they who are really being judged. And He knows that on the third day after His death, He will rise — justified, declared righteous, exonerated on all counts.
Find out more about this dramatic exchange — both of words and of places — in The King’s Judgement, the latest sermon from Christ Church Salisbury.