Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Dispensationalism Justifies the Crucifixion – Part 2

More about Philip Mauro (1859-1952), the author of this writing:  It was Mauro who prepared the legal case that was argued by William Jennings Bryan in the Tennessee – Scopes trial in 1925.  It is often forgotten that the proponents of evolution were defeated in this case.  Mauro wrote a book, entitled Evolution at the Bar, in which he stated: “Although sometimes spoken of as a “scientific” theory, Evolution is not scientific; for science has to do only with facts. Evolution belongs wholly in the realm of speculative philosophy.”

The pages of history would be searched in vain for another instance where a person charged with a capital offence was subjected to trial successively by two differently constituted tribunals.  And this unique feature of the trial of Jesus Christ is the more extraordinary because the two tribunals before which He was successively arraigned were of diverse nationality — one Jewish, the other Roman – and also of diverse orders — one ecclesiastical, the other civil.  He was arraigned first before the Jewish Sanhedrin, over which Caiaphas presided, he being “the high priest the same year” (John 11: 49); and then before the Roman governor.  And so it must needs have been, in order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled, which foretold the manner of His death (Matthew 27: 35).  For the usual method of execution practiced by the Jews was stoning; and moreover, during the period of Roman domination, it was not lawful for them to put any man to death (John 19: 31).

The closing events of our Lord’s life had been clearly foretold by the prophets.  Thus in the second Psalm we read: “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against His Christ, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”

There is no uncertainty as to the fulfilment of this prophecy; for the disciples, after reciting these verses of the Psalm, said: “For a truth, against Thy Holy Child Jesus, Whom Thou has anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel were gathered together for to do whatsoever Thy hand and Thy counsel determined before to be done” (Acts 4: 24 28).

Thus the great confederacy of Jews and Gentiles, kings of the earth and rulers, having set themselves in defiance against Jehovah and against His Christ, succeeded only in accomplishing what His eternal counsels had decreed before to be done.  Wherefore, through all the centuries from that time to near our own day, the people of God have been perfectly agreed that the way, and the only possible way, to the throne of David for Him, and the only possible way of salvation for them, was the way of the cross, the way of His death and resurrection; that Christ must needs have suffered those very things ere He could enter into His promised glory or be the Saviour of His people (Luke 24: 25-27).

All believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are agreed that the things whereof He spoke to the two on the road to Emmaus, things which were predicted of and suffered by Him, are the foundation things of our most holy faith.  None, therefore, would knowingly lend countenance to any doctrine that even seemed to raise a doubt in regard thereto.  Consequently they are in duty bound to examine with the utmost care and with an unbiased mind any and every newly propounded system of doctrine which teaches by implication that our Lord was, according to the Roman law, which was the law of the land at that time, actually guilty of the very acts of sedition whereof He was accused by the Jews; and specifically that He in person, as well as His Spirit-filled forerunner, His twelve apostles likewise, and the “other seventy also,” had gone about all Judea and Galilee proclaiming the immediate advent of the earthly kingdom which the Jews were eagerly awaiting at the very time.

Manifestly, if the Lord Himself, or John, or any other of His servants, had proclaimed by His authority on even a single occasion the King and the Kingdom for which the Jews were looking, or had proclaimed anything that could be fairly construed as subversive of Caesar’s authority and as tending towards the setting up in its stead of another government, His accusers would have been justified and His sentence and execution would have been warranted by the law of the land.

Moreover, and this is specially to be noted, there would have been, in that case, thousands of witnesses among the throngs at Jerusalem during that Passover season, who could have proved the accusation and would have been eager to do so.  For His enemies were ever listening with strained attention to His utterances, hoping to catch something out of His mouth whereof to accuse Him (Luke II: 54; John 18: 20).  This evidence — the lack of witnesses to any utterance from His lips that savoured — ever so little of sedition — though negative in character, is nevertheless very cogent.  But the Scripture contains even stronger proof that neither by John, nor by our Lord Himself, nor yet by any of His disciples, had He been proclaimed the promised King of Israel, the Christ of God.  For we have the clear and conclusive evidence afforded by what passed between our Lord and the Twelve at Caesarea Philippi on that notable occasion when He was for the very first time recognized as, and acknowledged by one of His disciples to be, the expected Messiah of Israel; and needless to say they could not have proclaimed before that episode what had not yet been revealed to them.  And as for the time subsequent, it is recorded that, on that very occasion our Lord “charged His disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ” (Matt. 16: 20); or as it properly reads, “that He, Jesus, was the Christ.”

Let it be remembered that in those early days of His ministry His miracles had excited the wonder of the multitudes, and filled the land with His praises.  The people were in expectation of the immediate appearance of the Messiah; and all men had previously been musing in their hearts concerning John “whether he were the Christ or not” (Luke 8: 15).  And the expectancy of the people had been raised to the highest pitch just before the occurrence at Caesarea Philippi, by the miracle of the loaves, whereby five thousand had been fed.  Some were saying He was John the Baptist; some that He was Elijah; others that He was Jeremiah or one of the old prophets risen again (Matthew 16: 13, 14; Luke 9: 19, 20).  Even Herod was greatly agitated “because it was said of some that John was risen from the dead” (Luke 9: 7-9).  It was under these circumstances that our Lord put to the Twelve that epoch-marking question: “But whom say ye that I am?” and elicited from Simon Peter the great testimony, “thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  We do not dwell upon the immense significance of Peter’s great confession, our only purpose in citing it being to call attention to the conclusive proof the whole incident affords that none of the Twelve could have announced Him previously as the Messiah of Israel, and that His express command forbade their doing it thereafter.

This proof, moreover, is strengthened by our Lord’s emphatic words, in which He blessed Peter for the reason that the great truth to which he had given utterance – that Jesus was the Christ of God and the Son of God — had not been revealed to him by flesh and blood, but by God the Father.  This makes clear that John had not preached it, else Peter would have learned it from Him.

Most earnestly, therefore, do we entreat all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity to search out and to consider carefully the copious testimony of the Gospels as to what He actually preached and taught in the days of His flesh concerning His mission to Israel and particularly concerning the nature of the Kingdom He was about to establish,— keeping in mind that any testimony which would support the postponement theory of our day, would have supported the accusation of our Lord’s enemies of that day.

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