• Post comments:0 Comments

In the middle of Wednesday night of passion week after the new day had begun by Jewish reckoning hours earlier and was now turning Thursday by Roman and our own more modern reckoning, Jesus was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane and taken to the high priest’s estate.  There He was first taken to Annas, who was formerly high priest and still regarded as such by the Jews so as to wield enormous influence.  Then He was led to his son-in-law Caiaphas, who due to the puppetry of Roman politics held the actual title of high priest; (cf. Joh 18:13,19,22,24).  But now that they had arrested Jesus out of envy, which even Pilate quickly recognized (Mat 27:18), how were they to actually get rid of Him?  Because of His popularity as a righteous teacher of justice, why couldn’t they just kill Him?  Consider their fear of the public backlash that would threaten their own rule, especially since the Romans had removed from them the ability to impose capital punishment.  And why couldn’t they just turn him over to the Romans to execute Him according to their desire, no questions asked (Joh 18:30)?  Considering their own desire to maintain a stable peace, would the Romans ask no questions?  Hence, they needed some “dirt” with which they could soil Jesus (cf. Pro 16:27), and they needed it fast so that they might have Him put to death before the festival started later that day and word spread among His supporters that He had been arrested.  Thus the need for an informal trial or prosecution of Jesus right away in the darkness of the night.

Who all was gathered together with Caiaphas for this illegal prosecution of Jesus in the middle of the night?  See Mat 26:57, Mar 14:53.  How would they have known to gather?  See Mat 26:3-4, Joh 11:47-53 and consider that as they had been plotting for some time to murder Jesus, when the opportunity arose, as it did when Judas first agreed to betray Him earlier that week, and then arrived earlier that evening to lead them to Jesus in the garden, they would have been ready for a summons to assemble that would likely have gone out at the same time the mob was dispatched with Judas.

How does Matthew describe the nature of this trial?  See Mat 26:59.  Are we to understand from his words “the whole Council”, that every member of the Sanhedrin without exception was necessarily present and looking for some way to have Him put to death?  Or rather, should we allow that some were not present and understand that the whole Council that had gathered was seeking a way to put Him to death?  See Luk 23:50-51, Joh 19:38-39 and consider that any potential sympathizers on the Council could easily have been, and likely were, excluded from this first informal, illegal trial.  Then, after they “had their ducks in a row” and knew from their initial inquisition that they had enough support, when morning arrived they would present their more carefully crafted case against Jesus to a formal gathering of the Council to rubber stamp what had already been decided.  At that time any potential naysayers would either be coerced to agree through peer pressure or outvoted by the majority who truckled to the influence of those who had already decided on what should happen—just as still happens in power structures today.  What does this remind us about the way that those who are in positions of worldly power are more able to accomplish their own desires by orchestrating the process to bring along others through such manipulation and peer pressure to agree to things they might otherwise not have agreed to?  What does this also illustrate about the purpose of open meeting laws that prevent more than a quorum of a council from meeting outside of a duly scheduled and recognized meeting time?

What sort of testimony does Matthew emphasize that the chief priests and those present from the Sanhedrin were seeking against Jesus?  See Mat 26:59.  Why was that the only sort of testimony they could hope to find?  Cf. Mat 27:4, Luk 23:41,47, Joh 8:46, Heb 7:26.  Because the truth of Jesus’ words and His righteousness and innocence were plain to all who heard Him, what does Matthew report in regard to even the false testimony they were seeking?  See Mat 26:60a.  How does Mark describe it?  See Mar 14:55-56.  What was the nature of the best false testimony they could come up with?  See Mar 14:57-59, Mat 26:60b-61, Mat 27:40.  What was the significance that there were two false witnesses saying He would destroy the temple (Mat 26:60b)?  See Deut 17:6, 2Co 13:1-2, 1Ti 15:19.  Did Jesus actually threaten to destroy the temple?  See Joh 2:18-22.  What does this teach us about the way that the wicked twist the words of the righteous in order to justify their actions against them?  Considering that they did so to Jesus, should we be surprised if the world does so to us as His disciples as well?  Cf. Mat 10:24-25, Joh 15:20.  Why would they want to make Him out as threatening to destroy the temple?  Cf. Act 6:13-14, 21:28-31 and think: if even profaning the temple by bringing a Gentile into it could be used as a pretext for riling up a crowd to have Paul put to death, how much more might an accusation against Jesus that He wanted to destroy it?  But in contrast to the riot stirred up against Paul, was there ever any such outburst against Jesus who taught daily in the temple and was heard by many that would make such a charge believable to Pilate?  

Leave a Reply