Over the next few hours, following his capture in Gethsemane, Jesus would endure both religious and civil trials. He was brought initially to the High Priest’s Palace meeting first with Annas, the personal assistant of Caiaphas. The Apostle John records ‘First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas’. (John 18:13) Questioned as an insurrectionist, they interrogated him about his teaching and disciples to which, Jesus simply says; I’ve been open about my teaching there is no secret, to which he received one of the countless blows that would land on his body that night. He was then bound and sent on to Caiaphas the High Priest himself for the next examination.
It is clear this was no ‘fair’ trial of Jesus. The bogus trial being acted out with false witnesses was never meant to find the truth but simply a plot to kill Jesus. Something they had decided long ago had to happen. Their sham trial was as hypocritical as their fake religious piety. However, they needed an ‘official’ verdict in order for his sentence to be justified in front of the Jewish population and gain cooperation from the Roman rulers. Evil motives and false witnesses aside, so much of the trial broke their own rules and regulations. A trial for life was prohibited at night. Hearings could not be instigated in a capital punishment case on the eve of any festival, including the Passover. Jesus’ arrest was effected by an illegal bribe. Jesus was pushed to incriminate himself. Finally, in a capital punishment case, the sentence could not be pronounced until the day after conviction. In any court in the land, this could and should have been declared a mistrial.
The religious leaders, who should have been welcoming Jesus, were infuriated because he had uncovered them as ‘a den of thieves.’ It may have been Roman soldiers driving spikes through Jesus’ body into the cross behind, but the hands of the disgraced religious leaders orchestrated everything from beginning to end. They fabricated a plan. They unearthed a turncoat. They paid a bribe. They sent a mob to arrest Jesus. They prepared false witnesses. They twisted his words. They broke their own laws. They condemned him to death. They tied him up and allowed his torture. They sent him to Pilate. They bullied Pilate. They choose Barabbas and stir up others to do the same and on the cross they ridiculed him.
In the face of false witnesses, Jesus ‘remained silent’, to the annoyance of Caiaphas, who then asked Jesus to answer a question under oath to God. It seems rather ironic that Caiaphas wants Jesus, also known as ‘The Truth’, to swear in God’s name that he is being truthful, when in fact, the only reason Jesus was on earth was to do the will of God, his Father, and not his own will.
Jesus’ next words in answer to the crux question, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of God?’ sent the High Priest apoplectic. ‘You said it!’ But at this moment Jesus is looking forward to what the writer of Hebrews calls ‘the joy set before him’ that would empower Jesus to endure the torture and the cross.
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. – Matt 26:64
In the small hours of the morning, it would seem evil men held sway but appearances can be deceiving. From the courtroom as a helpless prisoner Jesus sees, the miracle of Golgotha, an empty tomb, a coronation in the throne room of heaven, Pentecost, His Bride the Church and His triumphant return. I like to think at that moment a smile spread across his bruised face as he sees a ransomed and redeemed people from every tribe and nation enjoying and savouring eternity with their God and Saviour.
Almighty God, our heavenly Father: We have sinned against you, through our own fault, in thought, and word, and deed, and in what we have left undone. For the sake of your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, forgive us all our offences; and grant that we may serve you in newness of life, to the glory of your Name. Amen.
– Book of Common Prayer
More From This Series
View the other Devotionals in our “For the Joy” series