MPGC14- ON TRIAL BEFORE THE JEWISH LEADERS
It was in Gethsemane that Jesus settled things in his soul (his mind, will and emotions). He knew the plan of salvation from all eternity. He knew he had been born to die for mankind. But now, with suffering and death looming within hours, his mind and emotions were "sorrowful unto death". Through prayer with his Father and an angel that came to strengthen him, Jesus would finally come to pray the prayer that never fails, "Thy will be done."
By the time the mob arrested Jesus in the garden we see a man at peace and in control. If you reread the verses surrounding Christ's arrest in the garden you'll see that it wasn't the mob in control but Jesus.
From the garden Jesus was led to the High Priest's residence, the home of Caiaphas. What we will now witness together is a trial that was the greatest sham in history. In their eagerness to get rid of Jesus, the Sanhedrin (the 71 member supreme court of the Jews composed of scribes, pharisees, sadducees and elders) broke almost every rule of a criminal trial. What were these rules? William Barclay lays them out well.
1. A criminal must be tried in the day time.
2. A trial couldn't be transacted during the passover.
3. If a verdict was guilty the pronouncement must be made on the next day. This was to give time for the feelings of mercy to rise.
4. The new decision was not valid unless the Sanhedrin was meeting in its own chambers.
5. All evidence had to be guaranteed by two witnesses examined separately.
6. False witnesses were punishable by death.
7. The trial process began by laying before the court the innocence of the accused before evidence of his guilt was cited.
There will be four trials for the Lord in the coming night and although Jesus is the accused, each trial will show the accusers as the men they really are. We stand again on holy ground as we attend these trials and watch......
The Lord on Trial Before the Jewish Leaders
The Trial Before Annas
The four gospel writers all give varying details about Christ's trials and together they help us get the full picture of what actually happened in these predawn hours.
Day 1-From the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus was arrested and bound. Where did they bring him?
John 18:12-13 / Matthew 26:57
Why the discrepancy? In the commentary by Jameson, Faucett and Brown they explain that the Palace of the High Priest (which was Caiaphas) probably also housed his father-in-law Annas. Jesus was probably brought to Annas for an informal interview which gave the Sanhedrin time to assemble in the early morning hours. In John's gospel Annas is referred to as High Priest because he was the head of the officiating priestly family. Therefore he is still called High Priest in deference to his age.
The Jewish leadership had two objects to meet if they wanted Jesus put to death. First they had to find a charge where the Jews would condemn Jesus and second a charge where he would be condemned by the Romans. Why? The Sanhedrin couldn't execute the death sentence. They could examine a man and pass judgment but then it had to go to the Romans to be ratified. Therefore they needed to find charges that would be criminal in Roman eyes as well as condemned before Jewish eyes.
Day 2- What line of questioning did Annas take with Jesus?
Annas was hoping to get some statement from Jesus that he was seeking to establish a secret society that would lead to a new kingdom. If he did that they could extrapolate his actions and charge him with sedition. Sedition is an illegal action inciting resistance to lawful authority and tending to cause the disruption or overthrow of the government.
This is why Jesus responds as he does.
In verse 21 Jesus tells Annas to "ask those who heard me." The Jewish leadership had sent spies to watch his every movement and report every word. Annas is silenced by Christ's answer. He knows this is true and now fears that Jesus may say more that uncovers their covert operations.
The Trial Before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin
Day 4- How is it that Jesus comes now in the middle of the night before the entire Sanhedrin?
To answer this we must step back. Members of the Sanhedrin had been trying to trap Jesus into something where he could be arrested for a long time. Take the time to read through these verses and you'll have a picture of how much they hated Jesus and wanted him gone.
Matthew 12:14 / Matthew 26:14-16 / Luke 6:11 / Luke 19:47-48 / Luke 22:4 / John 11: 47-50, 53
Day 5- Was the Sanhedrin interested in truth and justice for Jesus?
Matthew 26: 59-60 / Mark 14:55
There was a great push to hasten this trial? Why? Here are three main reasons.
1- Remember that most of Jesus' friends and followers did not know he had been arrested. He was held in high regard among the people and if they found out all this had taken place in the dead of night there might be a rescue attempted.
2- If the trial was not done at once there would be a week delay because of the Passover. This could defeat their plans.
3- The Lord's condemnation at this point mainly depended on the mobs that had been assembled. This consisted of Christ's enemies and the rabble of Jerusalem. Therefore, before the truth could be known, Jesus must be delivered into Roman hands. But ---- an accusation still had to be found.
The High Priest Caiaphas belonged to the Sadducees, some of whom were desperate enemies of Jesus. Caiaphas regarded Jesus as his rival and there was no doubt bitter jealousy.
Within the Sanhedrin there was also bitter animosity between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Caiaphas therefore wanted to steer clear of any of their disputed points for fear of quarrelling. With a few words Jesus could easily have them all fighting together. At all costs Caiaphas would prevent this. He wanted a united Sanhedrin tonight. He must unite them all against Christ.
False witnesses were bribed to accuse Jesus of inciting rebellion and trying to establish a separate government. But their testimony was vague, confusing and contradictory.
Day 6- On what evidence was Jesus finally arrested?
Matthew 26: 60-61 / Mark 14: 56-58
Why did this fit their purpose?
The Jews took the Lord's words literally about the temple at Jerusalem. All of them took great pride in it and held the temple in veneration. The Romans had engaged in rebuilding and embellishing the temple. Therefore in Christ's misstated words there was some common ground. To the Romans, this would not be worthy of death but it was common ground.
Was this evidence solid?
Day 7- Jesus is given a chance to refute this evidence. What does he say?
Matthew 26: 62,63a / (Also: Mark 14: 60-61a)
Jesus stays silent because He will not respond to misunderstood truth. In referring to the destroyed temple and rebuilding it in three days He had talked of his own death and resurrection. He therefore referred to the temple of his body and not the temple in Jerusalem. In their haste to find something against him they had taken Christ's words out of context.
Day 8- The trial was making no headway. Accusers were entangled, confused and maddened. Worse yet Jesus was silent. He was responding to none of the bogus accusations just as the prophet Isaiah had predicted he would do centuries earlier.
Day 9- Christ's silence and absolute control exasperated Caiaphas. As a desperate, last resort he would question Jesus directly to see if he could make Jesus condemn himself. With all the authority he had as high priest he blurts out......
Day 10- To answer this Jesus knew his death would be certain but he would respond to truth. How does he answer?
When asked point blank if he is the Son of God he answers with a definite "Yes"! In this one response he shows respect for Caiaphas's authority, he establishes his relationship with his Father and he incriminates himself.
But his answer is also a prediction that one day the tables will be turned. Now he is on trial before them but in the future He will be seated at the right hand of the Father and they will be on trial before him.
Day 11- Jesus, in speaking the truth, had conveniently eliminated the need for finding any more witnesses. Men would put him to death but Jesus chose himself the death that He had come to earth to die for mankind. He would be "lifted up" on a cross.
John 3:14 / John 12:32-33
In a great show of mock indignation and anger what does Caiaphas now ask the Sanhedrin? And how do they answer?
Mark says that they "all condemned him as worthy of death."
No further questions, no further testimony, just a solidarity of agreement in the wee hours of the morning. The Sanhedrin had just broken every rule for a fair trial.
The Great Significance of Rending His Robes
Day 12- Caiaphas, instead of rending his heart, tore his robe in determined resistance. (Matthew 26:65a) In this one display of indignation he condemned himself. Why?
The robes worn by a priest must be whole and without blemish so as not to mar the representation of heavenly things. By law a priest could not tear his robes. It was prohibited under sentence of death.
There was a man-made law that allowed a priest to rend his garments (in horror) in the case of blasphemy and still be guiltless. But, in this act of rending his garments Caiaphas was no longer accepted by God as an officiating priest. He also made the law of God void by accepting man's law instead.
It was therefore standing under the condemnation of God that he pronounced sentence upon Jesus as a blasphemer. This act by Caiaphas was also a representative action of the Jewish nation before God. Once a favored nation they were separating themselves from God and fast becoming a people disowned by him. When Jesus would cry, "It is finished" (John 19:30) the veil of the temple rent in two and it was highly symbolic of a Jewish nation divorced from God.
Day 13- Luke adds an important point when the assembly asks, "If you are the Christ (or Messiah) tell us." (Luke 22:67a)
Notice Christ's answer.
Luke 22: 67b-70
There are three points to see here:
1- Jesus knows that they will not believe him if he says that he is the Messiah. They are already set against the truth.
2- If he were to ask them whether or not he is the Messiah they would not answer him. Why? Because it would incriminate them. If they know he is the Messiah and have not recognized and obeyed him --- (in fact have worked to put him to death)---then the accusers become the accused. No they will not answer for that!
3- In trying to clarify what Jesus says in vs 69, "Are you then the Son of God?" Jesus turns the tables on them.
Eugene Peterson's version of The Message says, "You're the ones who keep saying it."
This is the only one of their charges that was deserving of death according to Jewish law (i.e. someone claiming to be equal with God) and therefore the charge they most wanted to hear spoken clearly from Jesus' own lips. But in fact it is being spoken most clearly from their own lips with Jesus agreeing.
Day 14- Now with hardened hearts against Jesus it starts to get ugly.
Matthew 26:67-68 / Mark 14:65
Matthew says, "Then THEY spit in his face and struck him." Mark says, "Them SOME began to spit at him; they blindfolded him..." Who are the "they" and the "some"? While it may refer to the guards surrounding Jesus could it also be our Jewish statesmen acting as a common mob? Certainly the ugly, brutal behavior occurs with their sanction. All humanity and sympathy had left them and now a Satanic fury was being unleashed. If not for the Roman soldiers Jesus would never have made it to the cross.
Next Study: MPGC#15