Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The people versus Jesus of Nazareth . . . the trial of the ages

Trial #1 (John 18:12-14, 19-24): This trial was before Annas, who was the High Priest Emeritus who had served as High Priest from AD 6 to 15 and was disposed by Pilate’s predecessor. Though disposed, he still had much influence, seen by Jesus being brought first to him instead of Caiaphas. Annas was still the Vice-President of the Sanhedrin and many Jews still saw him as the High Priest. Like a mafia boss, Annas was very wealthy due to operating the entire temple money system that Jesus upset earlier in His ministry. During this trial, an officer strikes Jesus with a fist, or more likely, a rod.

Trial #2 (Matthew 26:57-68): This trial was before Caiaphas, who was the current High Priest of Israel and the son-in-law of Annas. He was extremely corrupt. Josephus describes his as having a reputation for bribery and a love of money. The Sanhedrin was also present for this trial. This group was made up of 70 chief priests, elders and Scribes, led by the High Priest who was the 71st member. An odd number was required to keep from any tie votes and appointments to this court were based on political and religious favoritism and influence. At this trial, this court turned into a riotous mob, spitting in Jesus’ face; Beating Him with their fists; Slapping Him with their open palms; and mocking Him saying, “Prophesy to us...who hit you?”

Trial #3 (Matthew 27:1-2): This trial was also before The Sanhedrin. It was now morning (the other proceedings were illegally held at night). Here they officially decide to have Jesus killed. The Jews were not allowed to administer the death penalty, so they needed to convince the Roman Governor to give permission for crucifixion.

Trial #4 (John 18:28-38): This trial was before Pilate, who was Procurator of Judea from AD26-36. He ruled Judea recklessly. He would be disposed in AD36 and ultimately executed. Pilate finds Jesus innocent (v38) but the people continued to cry out for His execution (Luke 23:6-7). Realizing that Jesus was a Galilean, Pilate sends Him to Herod.

Trial #5 (Luke 23:6-12): This trial was before Herod, the Vice-Tetrarch of Galilee. He was the same Herod who beheaded John the Baptist (Mt 14:1-12). Herod and his soldiers mocked Jesus while dressing Him up like a King. Herod then sent Jesus back to Pilate

Trial #6 (Luke 23:13-19; Matthew 27:15-26; John 9:1-16): This final trial is back in front of Pilate. Pilate announces that Jesus has been found without guilt by both he and Herod. Pilate gives the people a choice between the release of Jesus or the release of Barabbas, a notorious murderer. The Jewish leaders persuade the people to ask for the release of Barabbas and the crucifixion of Jesus. Trying to appease the people, Pilate has Jesus severely scourged. He again announces His innocence but the people continue to cry out for His execution. The Jews began to cry out that to release Jesus would be an act of treason against Caesar. Pilate feared Caesar more than he feared killing an innocent man. He tries one more attempt to appeal for Jesus’ release but the people are insistent. Fearing the people more than justice, Pilate hands Jesus over to be crucified.

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