“Rush to Judgment I”
March 10, 2020
RUSH TO JUDGMENT I
The First Three Trial
Last week we saw that Jesus was arrested in the typical Roman fashion. Rome is going to be used by God in the end story of Jesus’ life in a significant way. The Roman and Jewish “puppets” fulfill prophecy to perfection; as only God could plan it.
Jesus will be railroaded through six trials – of sorts. All of them will be fallacious farces (though farce may be the wrong word since there is no humor involved) that will only work to fulfill the desires of the Jewish leaders. From the arrest on Jesus would never be free from Roman custody again until He is Crucified. The reason for this whole exercise was to get Jesus, this radical Rabbi, out of the way – they wanted Him dead!
In these six trials, three Jewish and three Roman, none of the normal rules of law are followed. In the Jewish trials the charge is blasphemy; in the Roman trials the charge is switched to treason because the Romans didn’t care about blasphemy in the Jew’s eyes. Since the Romans were only allowed to administer the death penalty, the Jews bowed to the power of Rome in order to make sure Jesus died. Therefore, Jesus was crucified instead of being stoned in the Jewish manner.
The Jews took their laws and regulations from the Mosaic Law as interpreted for them in the Talmud. From the very beginning they started breaking their own laws just to make sure this radical Rabbi was put to death.
Following the arrest Jesus was taken straight to Annas, the former High Priest. (John 18:12-13) Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people. (NIV) According to their own law no trial can be held at night, between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., which it was. Nor can it be held before just 1 person, which it was. So far, the Jews are 0 for 4 in following their own laws.
(First trial) Jesus arrives at Annas’ house between 2 and 3 a.m., and the circus begins. Annas was retired, but he had an ax to grind with Jesus. Josephus tells us that Annas was the wealthiest and most influential man in Jerusalem. Recall the time when Jesus cleared the money changers out of the Temple, those money changers all paid “taxes” to Annas. So it was Annas’ pocketbook that got hit the hardest by Jesus’ actions. He was also the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the current high priest. Annas had served as the High Priest for over 17 years before retirement and had a considerable vendetta to impose on Jesus. Annas questioned Jesus on His teachings and His followers but, he really got no satisfaction. John 18:19-23 – Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”
22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.
23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” (NIV)
After Jesus had been questioned Annas wasn’t at all pleased with what he had heard, yet he did not have the authority to do much about it, so he sent Jesus on to see Caiaphas, the current High Priest. John 18:24 24 Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest. (NIV)
(Second trial) Caiaphas, a pawn of Rome, was equally corrupt. Again this “trial” is illegal because it is at night, early morning, without the proper witnesses or representation. It was considered by some to be a “preliminary hearing” which is also illegal. In Matthew 26:57-68 Jesus is led to Caiaphas and questioned. By now it is just before sunrise, about 5 in the morning. During this time Jesus is beaten and spat upon. At one point a hood is put over his head and He is punched and asked to “prophesy” as to who did it. Jesus is mocked and tortured, yet He says not a word. Matthew 26:57-68 – Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.
59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.
Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.'”
62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent.
The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”
64 “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?”
“He is worthy of death,” they answered.
67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?” (NIV)
How much did God the Father want to relieve His beloved Son of all of this? Jesus said not a word, but did God the Father hear His heart cries? Caiaphas also got no satisfaction from Jesus’ answers so the whole Sanhedrin was summoned.
(Third trial) The Sanhedrin was a group of 70 Jewish leaders that was the Jewish “Supreme Court.” This trial was probably the shortest of all of the six trials, probably lasting only 30 minutes. In this trial the “elders” sit in a semi-circle so everyone can see everyone else. They sit in a specific order, from youngest to oldest, from left to right, and they vote in that order, as well. They vote in this manner, youngest to oldest, so that the oldest don’t unduly influence the youngest. Except for the seating arrangement, nothing else in this trial followed any of the laws set out to be followed; the witnesses lied, the accused was beaten and no defense was allowed. The only thing that this trial produced was a Rush to Judgment. Luke 22:66-23:1 – 66 At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. 67 “If you are the Christ,” they said, “tell us.”
Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, 68 and if I asked you, you would not answer. 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”
70 They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”
He replied, “You are right in saying I am.”
71 Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”
23 Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. (NIV)
An aside to all that was going on that might be very interesting is that with all the illegal trials that were going on, the legal advisor of the Sanhedrin was always there. Standing to the side of the proceedings to make sure everything was done according to the law, was a young lawyer from Tarsus, Saul. This Saul, the legal counsel of the Sanhedrin that condemned an innocent Jesus, would eventually become the Apostle Paul, the most prolific church planter in the New Testament. Obviously, all the laws were not followed as they should have been, which may have come back to Saul in glaring reality one day on the road to Damascus.
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