Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’” And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”
(Matthew 26:57-68 ESV)
After being arrested Jesus was led to the home of Caiaphas the high priest to stand trial. The scribes (experts in Old Testament law) and the elders had already gathered there.
Anyone who reads the events of Jesus’ trials will easily see that they were a sham. In fact, they broke many rules of the Jewish judicial system, including:
- These trials took place at night. The law stated that trials could only take place during the day when people were awake and could witness the proceedings.
- Jesus was arrested without any formal charge being brought against Him.
- Jesus was declared guilty on same day of his trial. Jewish law allowed only an acquittal on the same day of trial; guilty verdicts had to wait 24 hours.
- According to Jewish law, criminal cases could not be tried during Passover.
- Jesus’ trials took place in private homes when the law stated they must be conducted in public courts.
Notice also that Jesus was arrested without there being any evidence against Him. It wasn’t until He was brought to Caiaphas’ home that the chief priest and the whole council sought testimony against Jesus. And even though many false witnesses came forward, none of their testimonies were usable.
Isn’t it interesting that there was no valid testimony against Jesus so the authorities sought false testimony. But they couldn’t even find that. Jesus was so innocent that they had a hard time making up excuses to convict Him.
The entire thing blatantly reeks of premeditation. The authorities hated Jesus so much – because He spoke out against their arrogance and sin (words that were true, by the way) – that they were willing to ignore and break their own rules in order to condemn Him and put Him to death.
Jesus’ trial wasn’t motivated by a desire for justice. It was motivated by a hatred for someone who spoke the truth. The verdict had already been decided upon in advance. All the authorities needed was an excuse – and a thin one at that – to declare it.
Times haven’t changed in 2,000 years, have they? People today feel the very same way towards God. They accept Him as long as He’s a genie who answers to their every beck and call. But when He points out their sin and need for repentance and forgiveness they put Him on trial and declare Him guilty.
But we are the ones who are on trial in life. We are the ones who are guilty. We may not like to be told we are sinners. But the truth is we are.
Sadly many people react just like the Jewish authorities in this scene. They first make up their mind to reject Him then they look for evidence to support that decision and justify themselves. But, just like in this scene, there is no such evidence to be found.
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