Part 9 The Lord Jesus Christ
This is the ninth in a series that examines references to prisons and prisoners in the Bible. In this article we will reflect on the brief but important period during which the Lord Jesus Christ was a prisoner at the hands of the Roman Empire. We can read about the Lord’s time as a prisoner in the last chapters of the four Gospel records.
More than any other person in history the Lord Jesus was unjustly accused, arrested, incarcerated and executed. He was willing to endure all those injustices which were committed against him in order to fulfill the will of God.
First, Jesus’ arrest and imprisonment was the result of betrayal by one that seemed to be a friend. Such a situation is not uncommon as many prisoners today are incarcerated because their friends were willing to testify against them in exchange for a lesser sentence. In the case of Judas, it seems he was just looking for money (Matthew 16:15).
His arrest would have gone peacefully since Jesus was already waiting and expecting the men sent from the high priest to come and get him. However, an overzealous Peter reacted to the situation attacking one of the guards that came to arrest Jesus, grabbed a sword and cut off the guard’s ear. Despite all that was happening to him, Jesus turned his attention to the injured guard, the same one that was coming to commit a tremendous injustice against him, and he reattached the ear. This demonstration of compassion showed how the Lord was able to look beyond his personal circumstances and see the needs of others, even those meant to do him harm.
At his trial the Lord, although entirely innocent, did not fight or protest his conviction. Not to imply that an innocent person should allow himself to be railroaded by a corrupt system, but rather it shows that our Savior had a bigger picture in view than his own personal circumstances. He was willing to allow such terrible injustice to be inflicted on him because he knew that his obedience was part of a much greater plan that the Father had for him and mankind. This “bigger than the moment” perspective is described for us in Hebrews 12:2, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Jesus actually spent very little time as a prisoner, less than 24 hours. Yet during that time he received more abuse and humiliation than many inmates that have spent years incarcerated. Much of what happened to him during that time was in order to fulfill direct prophecies about him. The short time that Jesus was in prison was in keeping with the traditional use of jails in the ancient world. Jails were not used for punishment per se, but rather as simply a place to hold an accused individual until he could be tried and punished in a way commensurate with his crime which was either to pay restitution or to be executed.
In the end we see the Lord Jesus Christ as a shining example of how one can endure difficulty and hardship in order to bring glory and honor to God. Jesus was tempted “in every way,” yet he never wavered in his commitment to do his Father’s will.