Wars; rumors of war; natural and man-made disasters; political, entertainment, and holiday events; exceptional economic fluctuations; lifestyles of the rich and famous; personal milestones—all captivate our interest.
However, for sheer suspense concerning innocence or guilt, right or wrong, and even life or death decisions, hardly anything arrests our attention like a sensational trial that grips an entire nation … indeed, the whole world. Some of which have long-term repercussions.
In the United States, we’ve come to call some of these historical trials: “The Trial of the Century.” It doesn’t matter that, by definition, there can only be one trial of the (a) century. Any court drama that grabs national and sometimes international headlines can be granted that title.
We are mesmerized by high-profile trials because it’s not our fate that hangs in the balance. We even get to choose sides. We reach our own verdict of guilty or innocent and impose our own sentence on the accused, sometimes before the trial begins. Some rely on the facts; others on the personalities involved. Some people like loopholes, others do not. Some put themselves in the place of the accused, or a witness, or a jury member, or prosecutor, or defense attorney, or judge. What would we do and say?
Top 10 Trials of the 20th Century
That is the title of an article posted online at the website of History Lists. The list was not necessarily arranged according to the author’s opinion as to the historical rank of the trials, i.e. from ten to one in prominence. Some of these were:
- The Scopes Monkey Trial (1925): Should evolution be taught in the public schools of Tennessee as opposed to Biblical creation? Evolution lost that battle. Nowadays in most public-school systems, the Biblical account of creation cannot be taught—only evolution.
- The Rosenberg Trial (late 1940s): Husband/wife Julius & Ethel Rosenberg found guilty and executed (1953) for treason, i.e. espionage in passing secret documents on the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. The Rosenberg’s maintained their innocence; claiming that they were arrested and convicted because they were Jewish.
- The Nuremberg Trials (1945-46): Twenty-four Nazi leaders such as Herman Goering and Rudolph Hess tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Three were acquitted; twelve found guilty and executed; seven convicted and sentence to life or lengthy imprisonment.
- Lindbergh Kidnapping Trial (1932): 20-month old son of famous aviator Charles Lindbergh kidnapped and murdered by Bruno Hauptmann. Although the title had been casually used before, this case was constantly referred to as, “The Trial of the Century.” Decades after Hauptmann was convicted and executed, legitimate questions arose as to his innocence.
- O.J. Simpson Murder Trial (1995): Another trial with racial overtones. Many African-Americans wanted him to be acquitted even before the trial began. Americans were glued to this televised trial in the same fashion as a miniseries or a daily soap-opera. Hardly any other sensationalized trial generated such agony or ecstasy at the verdict.
Two trials of the 21st century also garnered international headlines: The Michael Jackson Trial of 2005. And Saddam Hussein’s capture and trial, 2004-2006.
(Charles Lindbergh & his son)
Top Ten Historical Trials That Shook the World
The above titled article authored by Matt Hayes and Igor Itkin, posted on 11-13-2012, can be found in the on-site location of ListVerse.com. The authors expanded the Trial of the Century concept to the top ten trials throughout history. However, this list ranks the ten trials, “that shook the world” in order of prestige, counting down from ten to the one most notable of all. These ten and dozens more can be found on other internet websites.
The authors cite a common denominator for all ten … that of an injustice against the accused. Whether these top ten were chosen because of that injustice or whether the outcome of the trials just happened to include an unjust verdict is difficult to ascertain. Yet one fact stands out: They did shake the very fabric of society at the time, with some of those repercussions continuing to our post-modern world.
Only six of them will be presented … each identified by its’ number rank.
Number Ten – Salem Witch Trials (1692): A few movies and T.V. programs have been aired and numerous books and articles have been written about this infamous trial.
Number Nine – Alfred Dreyfus Trial (1894): Many allege that anti-Semitism motivated the wrongful arrest, trial, and conviction of this Jewish official for alleged treason against France. Several years later, Dreyfus was exonerated on all charges.
Number Eight – Martin Luther’s Trial (1521): Charged with heresy, Luther was imprisoned and excommunicated. He escaped prison and remained in hiding for most of his life. His courage to confront the hierarchy of Roman Catholicism was the foundation of the Protestant Reformation back to the basic truths of the Christian message: Salvation by grace through faith in Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice alone … not by membership in or keeping of unbiblical sacraments of a church organization.
Number Three – Joan of Arc Trial (1431): Another notorious trial of heresy with the Catholic Church verdict of guilty and execution by burning her alive at the stake.
Number Two – Trial of Socrates (399 B.C.): Accusations of corrupting social and moral values.
Number One – Crucifixion Trial of Jesus Christ (around 30 A.D.): Whether a believer in Messiah Jesus or a religious or secular unbeliever, billions were and still are familiar with what is undeniably (in terms of both human and divine impact) the most famous trial of all time.
(Depiction of Martin Luther on trial)
Introduction to the Three Greatest Trials of All Time
The crucifixion of Messiah Jesus ended the first of the three greatest trials of the ages. The other two have not yet taken place. But they, too, will surpass all other court cases because, like the trial of Jesus, each of them directly involves God. Each one was prophesied in the Bible long before the occurrence. Each marks the end and then a new beginning of three epic periods of God’s providential interaction with humanity. They will determine the destiny of all nations and peoples.
The trial of Jesus marked the end of the Old Covenant of Law and beginning of the New Covenant Age of Grace. It is the only event in history in which God, himself, was on trial … literally, not symbolically. The very Son of God (Second Person of the Triune God) stood accused. In the next two monumental court hearings soon to come, many people will be on trial.
Class action trials, so to speak.
The second trial will take place at the end of the Great Tribulation just before the magnificent Millennial Reign of Messiah Jesus begins. In fact, he will be the judge. The verdict of this trial will be imposed on nations of the earth which oppressed and persecuted Jews all over the earth during the final generation of the last days in which we are now living … particularly during the Tribulation period.
The third and final trial of all time will include all raised to life unbelievers, those who are the unforgiven. It will take place at the end of the Millennium … the trial to end all trials. For this will be the beginning of ETERNITY. A glorious timeless and trial-less existence in heaven and the New Jerusalem for all of God’s people.
First Trial: Arrest, Interrogation, Verdict, and Execution of Messiah Jesus
To say that the trial of Jesus Christ was unique (one of a kind) would be the understatement of “the century.” Of any century. Indeed, it was God on trial; for a radical reason with far-reaching, everlasting results.
With his illegitimate arrest, illegal trial, and unwarranted crucifixion, Jesus Christ not only stood trial for mankind; he also suffered the penalty of a sentence for every person who ever lived.
“For the wages of sin is death… (both physical and spiritual)” (Romans 6:23a, parenthesis mine).
However, a verdict that can be overturned by a once for all pardon of sin and guilt (spiritual death—eternal separation from God;) if we only believe and receive the one Person who took that sin and guilt for us … Messiah Jesus.
“…but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23b).
He is the just for the unjust, the righteous for the unrighteous, the innocent for the guilty.
Here are some of the other remarkable differences in the trial of Jesus:
Predicted Hundreds of Years Before It Happened (In Parenthesis, O.T. & N.T. Passages)
The birth, life, death, crucifixion, and resurrection of the Messiah was prophesied dozens of times in the Old Testament. All fulfilled in decisive detail by Jesus of Nazareth. None more so than his trial—from the time he was arrested to when he arose from the grave.
Including but not limited to: rejection by his own people (Isaiah 53:3 … John 1:11); betrayal by a friend—one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot (Psalm 41:9 … Mark 14:17-20); beaten viciously (Micah 5:1 … Mark 15:19); silent before his accusers (Isaiah 53:7 … Matthew 27:12-14); unjustly tried and condemned (Isaiah 53:8 … Matthew 27:1-2); nails driven into his hands and feet (Psalm 22:16 … Matthew 27:35); dice thrown for his garments (Psalm 22:18 … John 19:23-24); given vinegar and gall (Psalm 69:21 … John 19:28-29); buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9 … Luke 23:50-56). And of course, his resurrection (Psalm 16:10 … Luke 24:1-7, 47).
Prophesied by Jesus, Himself
As recorded in the Gospels, at least three times Jesus predicted his death at the hands of his enemies. How could he have known with any degree of certainty that this would happen, let alone with the details he gave, unless he was the divine Son of God? In the first of these, we read: “The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things… He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead” (Luke 9:22).
By that time, Jesus’s disciples, as well as thousands of the common people and many of the religious leaders, had heard of or had seen first-hand his tremendous teaching and magnificent miracles. Many believed in Him. Yet most still would not accept him as the Messiah, the Son of God. Despite the irrefutable evidence, they chose not to believe. Jesus knew they would reject him, and he knew that the result of that rejection would cost him his life.
Yet, the prophetic announcement was just one of several distinctive features of Jesus’s trial.
Jesus’s Trial from Beginning to End Was Illegal
It’s one thing to accuse and try an innocent person. Sadly, that happens. Even worse: when the innocent is found guilty for any number of reasons, such as inaccurate testimony—either deliberate or inadvertent. In that regard Jesus’s trial was not unique.
However, it’s a seriously different matter when the trial itself is illegal.
Jesus was tried in the middle of the night which was a violation of Jewish law. The Jewish Sanhedrin and its High Priest Caiaphas knew this. They also knew that for serious charges an accused must be brought to the High Council’s regular chambers; they tried Jesus in Caiaphas’ home.
(Jesus and the Sanhedrin, from the movie Jesus of Nazareth)
False witnesses were produced. Normally Jewish trials involved a sophisticated protocol of screening witnesses to assure that true justice would prevail. Nor was a prisoner to be struck or physically assaulted during a trial. In short, the entire trial was conducted surreptitiously without due process, a violation of the Law of Moses that the Jewish officials were so keen to enforce.
Because the religious leaders wanted to kill Jesus (knowing they needed permission from the Romans) before the Sabbath began, they circumvented all the Law’s procedures and principles. To the point where the Sanhedrin elected to cut to the chase and bluntly asked Jesus, “Tell us, are you the Messiah…?” (Luke 22:67; Matthew’s Gospel includes, “…Messiah, the Son of God”).
Jesus was then handed over to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate who further interrogated him. All born-again believers know (or should know) as do millions of unbelievers that Pilate knew Jesus was innocent of the crime of treason (the bogus reason given by the Jews, because they knew a religious violation of the Law of Moses was not a concern to the Romans). Moreover, Pilate could have released Jesus instead of Barabbas according to an annual tradition of freeing one Jewish prisoner on Passover. Do you know or remember what Pilate said and did after he capitulated to the demands of the Jews to crucify Jesus?
“Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!’ And all the people yelled back, ‘We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!’” (Matthew 27:24-25).
Not only were the Jews responsible for Jesus’s unjust death, so were the Romans (Gentiles). The Jews had the first chance to release Jesus, and the Romans had the last chance. Both were complicit in his death, as are we all.
Thank God! The story doesn’t end there.
“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) (Ephesians 2:4-5, parenthesis in the text).
The Accused’s Right to Defend Himself; Jesus Was Silent Before His Accusers
The rule of law both civil and criminal (patterned after traditional Jewish law) was ingrained in the Roman Empire. Everyone had the right to a trial and to innocence until proven guilty. In today’s world all democratic nations are founded on this principle.
Would the accused (especially if they’re innocent) remain silent in their defense? At the very least the accused would seek a lawyer or advocate to speak for them.
Concerning the Messiah, Isaiah wrote: “He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away” (Isaiah 53:7-8a).
In answer to the confrontational demand as to whether he was the Messiah, Jesus did speak. He also answered Pontius Pilate’s question as to whether he was the King of the Jews. Essentially, that’s all Jesus said. Isaiah’s prophesy of the Messiah being silent was a direct reference to the critical component of Jewish law … those accused had the right to speak, or to be spoken for by an advocate. To include as much evidence and time reasonably needed to establish that defense.
Jesus could have responded with a long dissertation demonstrating why he was, in fact, Messiah? He could have quoted passage after prophetic passage in the Old Testament, then cited (for example) three dozen miracles he had performed. Then asserted his rights that the “court” bring in some of those he had miraculously healed from crippling deformities and diseases. He could have produced proof that he was born in Bethlehem as prophesied by the prophet Micah; not in Nazareth as mistakenly assumed by the religious leaders. That he was a direct descendant of King David from the tribe of Judah. And he could have summoned Lazarus to testify that Jesus had raised him from the dead!
In that regard, Jesus did not by any stretch of the imagination offer a defense, let alone extensive evidence that he could have presented. His only reply was that of answering the crucial question of his Messiahship.
Here is part of Yeshua’s response to the Sanhedrin:
“…If I tell you, you won’t believe me. And if I ask you a question, you won’t answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated in the place of power at God’s right hand.
“They all shouted, ‘So you are claiming to be the Son of God?’
“And he replied, ‘You say that I am.’” (Luke 22:67-70).
Thus, Jesus was agreeing with them; he was, indeed, The Messiah—the Son of God.
Concerning the question(s) he could have asked them as well as their unbelief, he had already posed several probing questions to the religious leaders during his ministry that they could not answer. In fact, they were dumbfounded at his astounding questions and answers. That’s why the religious leaders were so jealous of Jesus. They also were envious of the common people’s responses to what Jesus said and did. For example: “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law” (Matthew 7:28-29).
(Please see Eye of Prophecy article, The Incomparable Power and Authority of Jesus Christ; posted 5-28-16).
Jesus also declined to defend himself in front of Pontius Pilate. Neither Pilate nor any other Roman official or court of law could imagine anyone not speaking up in their defense, especially when the accused’s life hung in the balance.
(Jesus before Pilate, from the movie, The Passion of the Christ. Barabbas is portrayed on the right)
As with the Jewish leaders, the only response Jesus gave concerned Pilates’s question, “…Are you the king of the Jews?”
Part of Jesus’s reply was, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world … You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into this world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true” (John 18:33-37).
Indeed, the offense for which the Jewish leaders tried Jesus was part of the Mosaic Law that warranted the death penalty, i.e. claiming not only to be Messiah, but (even more blatant to the religious leaders) saying that he was God’s Son. Though Jesus was completely man, he was also fully God. Therein lies the rub. If he was exclusively a human being, then he would have been guilty of the charge.
That was/is the crux of the matter. For two reasons: (1) The Hebrew Scriptures unequivocally state that the Messiah is divine (Isaiah 9, Micah 5, other passages). This fact was missed, dismissed, or erroneously explained away by many Jewish rabbis—then and now. Considering Jesus’s claim to be the (divine) Messiah, the very Son of God, the Jewish leaders and people should have closely examined their Scriptures to at least give him the benefit of the doubt. (2) This benefit of the doubt was denied outright despite the extraordinary evidence that Jesus had performed many miracles, not just one or two. For example, would they have believed Lazarus’ testimony? Perhaps. Would it have made a difference? No.
Jesus knew that the hearts of his accusers were rock-hard; their eyes irreversibly blind; ears irrevocably deaf. No matter if or how he defended himself, he would have been condemned. He didn’t speak a word in his defense. The only words he spoke affirmed the accusations.
What other trial in history resulted in the execution (and an excruciating inhumane one at that) of someone who was found innocent by the ruling court?! And this someone wasn’t just some-one. He was and is the Messiah, the Son of God. He is Lord and Savior for those who believe in Him.
Our Redeemer lives!
Jesus Stood Trial and Died Voluntarily
Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd… So I sacrifice my life for the sheep (referring to Israel, the lost sheep). I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold (Gentiles). I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd… I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded” (John 10:14-18, parenthesis mine).
Although Jesus knew precisely what would happen, he did nothing to orchestrate the sequence of events relating to his trial and crucifixion. As the Son of Man, he left that to the inexplicable, incomparable sovereignty of his Father, Almighty God.
As a man, he even asked his Father if there could be another way to accomplish God’s plan of redemption. Do you remember what he said in the Garden of Gethsemane shortly before he was arrested?
“Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will…. (Mark 14:36, NASB). Go ahead and finish Jesus’s words.
Yes, Jesus voluntarily laid down his life. As the Son of God, at any time he could have stopped what was happening to and around him.
Eternal praise to our God and His Messiah that this did not happen! All glory to Yeshua who did not send a legion of angels to annihilate those who had arrested him in the garden! Everlasting gratitude to our Lord for not saying I’ve had enough and stepping down from the cross! All power and dominion to the Son of Man for arising from the grave and conquering death once and for all! Go ahead, say it aloud with me. Amen! (Out of the Abyss, page 219)
Just after he was nailed to the cross, with incredible love even for those who crucified him, we read these stirring words:
Just before Jesus died on the cross, he uttered these amazing words that would forever change the course of history: “It is finished!” (John 19:30).
Those words meant the debt of sin had been paid once and for all.
It was a trial unlike any other before or since; the trial of a lifetime … yours, mine, everyone who has ever lived on this planet. One that determined our destiny of eternal life or death, depending on what we decide about Jesus—who he is and why he died. An unjust trial and sentence willingly endured by Messiah Jesus. His was the greatest sacrifice ever made by the highest price ever paid.
Second Trial: Judgment of the Nations / Trial of the Sheep and Goats
To some extent or another, several prior Eye of Prophecy articles have addressed God’s two universal plans for humanity: (1) Individual redemption for all—Jew and Gentile alike—who place their trust in the only source of salvation, the Jewish Messiah for all people. The final trial/judgment for all people who have died without acknowledging Jesus as Lord and Savior will take place at the end of the Millennium. That is the 3rd greatest trial of the ages, which will be discussed shortly.
(2) God’s second plan is Israel. It is tied into the first … salvation would come through the Jews and the nation of Israel, specifically through the Messiah. God’s Covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob first and foremost guaranteed that the Promised Land of Israel would always be the permanent inheritance (possession) of their descendants, the Jews. All nations of the earth that bless Israel will be blessed. Those countries that denigrate and delegitimize Israel would be severely punished (Genesis 12).
The final phase of this punishment will take place during the Tribulation culminating in the 2nd greatest trial in human history at the end of the Tribulation. This is commonly referred to as the separation of the Sheep and the Goats, as announced directly by Jesus. It will usher in his Millennial Reign.
Those who survive the Great Tribulation will stand before Jesus Christ, separated into nations or ethnic groups that supported Israel (the sheep) and those that fought against Israel (the goats).
Prior to this trial, God will have already destroyed the coalition of Gog/Magog nations in the early part of the Tribulation. Then Messiah Jesus will crush the ten-nation coalition led by Antichrist (Nero) near the very end of the Tribulation … Armageddon. (See Eye of Prophecy articles: End of the World Events … In Chronological Order, posted 2-25-17; and Armageddon & Messiah’s Return … An Amazing Sequence of Events, 2-3-18).
“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left” (Matthew 25:31-33).
In the rest of that chapter, Jesus explains the explicit criteria for this trial and the verdict.
Concerning the sheep who generously help the Jews:
The brothers and sisters of Jesus are his Jewish kinsfolk in the flesh.
For those in the goat nations, it will be just the opposite. Their hostility toward God’s chosen people will result in: “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life” (Verse 46).
Judgment of unbelievers alive at the end of the Tribulation will be based primarily on their (national) treatment of Israel, as such treatment was though they had done it (good or bad) for Jesus himself—Israel’s King. Both the (sheep/goat) trial of the nations and the Tribulation pre-trial destruction of the armies of these anti-Semitic nations are found in several Old Testament prophecies. Such as:
“I will gather the armies of the world into the valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will judge them for harming my people, my special possession, for scattering my people among the nations, and for dividing up my land” (Joel 3:2).
“The day is near when I, the Lord, will judge all godless nations! As you have done to Israel, so it will be done to you. All your evil deeds will fall back on your own heads” (Obadiah 1:15).
Right in the middle of the well-known prophecy that depicts the four Gentile world kingdoms, and the little horn’s (Antichrist Nero) sudden appearance (reappearance or return from the Abyss as found in Revelation 17) at the outset of the Tribulation, Daniel switches to a stunning vision of the Messiah:
“As my vision continued that night, I saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence. He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14, italicized to emphasize that Jesus will divinely judge and rule over nations).
Please see Eye of Prophecy article, Messiah’s Ascension & Coronation … Seen Long Before It Happened! Posted 5-27-17.
And the oft-quoted passage: “I will make Jerusalem like an intoxicating drink that makes the nearby nations stagger when they send their armies to besiege Jerusalem and Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock. All the nations will gather against it to try to move it, but they will only hurt themselves” (Zechariah 12:2-3).
Third Trial: The Great White Throne Judgment
The Great White Throne Judgement was discussed in a very recent Eye of Prophecy article; however, with emphasis on the resurrection of dead unbelievers, only to face their eternal fate. (Resurrections / How Many Will There Be? One, Two, or Could There Be Three? Posted 10-27-18).
This final trial, verdict, and sentence is profoundly personal and permanent as found in Revelation 20:11-15, in contrast to the more corporate punishment of the sheep/goat nations which pertains to the treatment of Israel and the Jews. It ends the Millennial era and initiates the age of Eternity.
One of the exceptional features of this trial is that the verdict is not directly based on the offenses (sin) of those being judged … all unbelievers. Yes, you read that right.
Here is what all unbelievers are being judged by: “…And all were judged according to their deeds” (Revelation 20:13). It doesn’t say according to their sins. In fact, some of these acts were undoubtedly good deeds. Unless done from strictly a selfish motive or gain, no good deed or work (objectively defined by all involved) is a sin.
They were “judged” (measured or cross-examined) on the only defense that unbelievers can and will offer. This argument is based on the most perfidious perception and malignant misconception ever befallen humanity. Which is: The good things I’ve done should be given greater weight than the wrong things.
But the actual sentence (Lake of Fire) was based on something much more comprehensive, one with eternal consequences, which we will see in a moment.
During their life on this earth, what all the unsaved ultimately want to be measured by is their accomplishments, mainly through “good works” which they will try to argue should be enough to merit God’s approval. That will be their defense before Almighty God, who will not beg to disagree during this trial. That disagreement had already been unequivocally quantified:
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood…” (Romans 3:23-25).
God is both just and fair. He will allow unbelievers at this final trial to be judged (measured) by their works. If anyone can prove to Him that their deeds are enough to earn and reach God’s perfect standard of righteousness, then they’re home free. Or are they?
“No one is righteous—not even one” (Romans 3:10). None of us has any innate or earned righteousness of our own.
“…The Lord is Our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 33:16).
Thus, Messiah Jesus is the ultimate test of those on trial before the Great White Throne of Father God.
When the people asked Jesus what they could or should do to perform works acceptable to God, Jesus summarized the whole basis for right standing with God (righteousness) with these words: “This is the only work God wants from you. Believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29).
Therefore, the final sentence (Lake of Fire) of all unbelievers is based on what they did or didn’t do about Jesus—who had already been judged by God for their sins and the penalty thereof. That is why we read:
“And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). The unbelievers standing on trial before God had not accepted the only remedy that could have pardoned them from their sins … trust in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus holds the keys of death and the grave (Revelation 1:18). He conquered death when he arose from the grave. Only Jesus can unlock the door (prison) of physical and spiritual death.
He is the Book of Life. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).
He also said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
The Great White Throne passage doesn’t specify just how this trial will unfold. Will the Lord “cross-examine” every unbeliever one at a time? Though speculation, I would suggest that God will extend the opportunity to all those who want to speak up in their own defense to present their case. Most will simply remain silent, knowing the futility of their defense. Certainly some of the religious among them will step forward to remind the Lord of the great things they did for him.
Everything except the most important … to acknowledge and accept Jesus as their personal Savior. Only then, after it’s too late, will they bow their knee and confess with their mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11).
Jesus mentions them: “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day (Great White Throne Judgment) many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws’” (Matthew 7:21-23, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).
And what is the “will of my Father” referred to by Jesus? We’ve already read that: Believe in the one (Jesus) whom God sent.
Things to Ponder
Nobody needs to be tried as a goat or according to their works. No one need be sentenced to the worst fate imaginable—eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire. A guilty verdict that could have been set aside with the right answer to the life-changing, destiny-altering question posed in Jesus’s deposition of all people. One that must be answered in this life-time on earth.
“But who do you say I am?
“Simon Peter answered: ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God’” (Matthew 16:15-16).
God loves you. Jesus died for you.
Say, “yes,” to him before it’s too late.