All the trial narratives of the Gospels come to place one single charge against us: we choose to be somewhere other than where Christ is. Each Gospel in its own way challenges us to step down from the tribunal to stand with him. For Mark, we must stand in the lonely moment of ‘useless’ witness. For Matthew, we must distance ourselves from the expertise and the religiosity which make us strangers to God’s surprises. For Luke, we must find a voice for and with those who are locked out. Finally, in the face of John’s narrative, we must decide not simply which ‘kingdom’ we belong to, but which world we are going to live in: the world that is made sense of by the vision of the creator’s self-gift or the world that defines itself against its maker and so breeds refusal and rivalry in all its dealings.
In each Gospel, what focuses and grounds the challenge is that the trial brings to light not so much a set of facts about Jesus, but the truth of his identity – as the one who is entitled to say ‘I am’; as the embodiment of God’s Wisdom; as the centre of a moral world at odds with the world with which we are familiar; as the place where truth is. Faith in Jesus is not bound first to the establishing of facts about him – remember how briskly this is disposed of by John in his account of the trial before Annas. Concern with such fact is and must always be related to who he is and what must be said about his identity as a whole. However much we know about Jesus, the verdict on who he is can only be delivered if we are willing to move, willing to be on trial both with him and before him. We cannot properly say who he is unless we have stood before his tribunal and discovered from him something of who we are.
– from Christ on Trial by Rowan Williams