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A Kangaroo Court

And they that laid hold on Jesus lead him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and elders were assembled.

Matthew 26:57 KJV

It is believed that the term, Kangaroo Court, came from the 1850s during the gold rush days. Mines that looked promising were quickly grabbed by speculators in the following way. After hastily forming a court in town the man who wanted the land would present false paperwork and then stake his claim. The whole exercise was for the appearance of being a legal proceeding, but it was not. Laws were broken by men who had sworn to uphold them, and juries were assembled by clearing out the saloons. These speculators jumped like kangaroos on promising mines and then, smoky courtrooms were filled with those who jumped like kangaroos to make a dollar. Webster defined it like this, “A mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted. A court characterized by irresponsible, unauthorized, or irregular status or procedures.”

The classic Kangaroo Court of the ages was held 2000 years ago in the home of Caiaphas the high priest. Jesus was arrested and then transported in the middle of the night from the garden of Gethsemane. The list of irregularities concerning the trial is too numerous to mention in this short article. The night trial was illegal. A trial in the home of Caiaphas was forbidden. If a man was found guilty in a Jewish court three days had to elapse before judgment was rendered. A series of false witnesses were brought in longer than a Texas mile. The list goes on and on. Even the charge that he said he would destroy the temple was a lie.

When a judge chooses willfully to disobey the very laws he was sworn to uphold, then that court is no longer legitimate. The same is true of any government that refuses to submit to the very laws it has established. In that moment the whole establishment of authority breaks down into a thin façade and society spirals out of control. What would cause those in authority to stoop to such depravity. In the case of Caiaphas, the high priest, and those who sat with him that night, their lust for power is the only answer. It is no different today.

How did Jesus respond to his Kangaroo Court? He was silent up to the point when they asked him who he was. He then, in unmistakable terms, declared himself to be the son of God and the son of man who would return in the clouds with power and glory. They, at that present time, were free to commit the most heinous crime in history. But their evil deeds would not go unpunished, and neither will any Kangaroo Court today that continues to disobey the rule of law. The Son of Man is coming in the clouds to execute judgment. Be at peace. There is not a Kangaroo Court in this world that he is not watching, no matter where it exists. Our responsibility is to continue to proclaim Christ.


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