When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor.
(Matthew 27:1-2 ESV)
A few days ago we studied the scene in which Jesus was convicted of blasphemy at a trial that was illegal for several reasons including being held at night and in a private residence rather than in the Temple courts. So when morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus. That is, they held another trial. But this one was nothing more than a pretense to give the appearance they were adhering to the law. Not surprisingly, they came to the same decision in this trial as the previous one: to put Jesus to death.
But Rome did not allow any of the people they conquered to execute the death penalty [John 18:31]. Only Rome could execute people. So Jesus had to be delivered to the Roman governor over Israel, Pontius Pilate, for another trial.
Matthew’s account of the life of Jesus was written to the Jews in order to prove that He was the savior (i.e. messiah) they had been waiting for for so long. We learned this in our introduction. As such he often abbreviates events, including only the details that support his objective. The trials of Jesus are one such area.
After being arrested the previous evening Jesus actually had two illegal trials. One in the home of Annas [John 18:13] which is omitted by Matthew, and the one we studied in the home of Caiaphas who was Annas’ son-in-law. After reaching a guilty verdict, a third trial was held in the morning to “validate” what had been decided illegally in the two evening trials.
Since the Jewish leaders sentenced Jesus’ to death, Jesus needed to be tried by the Romans. Matthew mentions only one trial before Pilate. But in fact He was tried by Pilate, who found Him innocent, was then sent to Herod who sent Him back to Pilate. In all that is six trials in the span of about six hours.
As we study the last days of Jesus’ life it’s impossible not to see the parallels with our present day. Just like the Jewish leaders went through a series of legal machinations to rid themselves of Jesus so, too, do modern-day Jesus haters.
Law-suits abound around the United States (and probably other countries) seeking to remove Jesus from culture. Doing so is no different than what the Jewish leaders did 2,000 years ago. Neither are their motives.
Jesus was completely innocent of the charges against Him. He had never hurt anyone; he had only helped people by curing their diseases and afflictions and by giving them the exact instructions on how to get to heaven. But the people hated Him because He spoke the truth and exposed their sin; they were offended.
Today those who hate being told they are sinners follow the same tactic – they appeal to our man-made judicial system to eliminate Jesus. Like the Jewish leaders they present lies as evidence and hurt feelings as justification.
And just like the Jewish and Roman counsels our judicial system falls for it. And in so doing they lead people into eternal hell.
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