Summary: The passion of Jesus and how it relates to Holy Communion

John 19: 1 - 20


The story of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus is a story of hypocrisy and raging hatred. It is also the story of the power and majesty of Jesus.

The Jewish religious authorities wanted to get permanently rid of Jesus because He was causing problems for them by teaching the truth about God’s love and forgiveness while they were teaching of a vengeful God who punished any failure to strictly obey the law. They saw that he had drawn a huge following, and that made them jealous and afraid.

They saw that Great crowds followed Jesus wherever He went, and that made them afraid that He might start a rebellion that would bring the Roman military down on the Jews. Jesus’ triumphal entry to Jerusalem was the final straw that set the high priest and other authorities on a course to kill Jesus.

The hypocrisy and hatred shows all through the story of Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion. In all of this keep in mind that it was the duty of the high priest and the Sanhedrin to insure obedience to the law. They started breaking that law, when through the treachery of Judas, they managed to capture Jesus at Gethsemane at night and bring Him before Caiaphas, the high priest for trial.

Matthew 26:57 tells us that, “Those who arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. Verse 59 tells us that this was a meeting of the high priest and the whole Sanhedrin. All of this at night, during the Passover season, and all of this in direct violation of Jewish law.

The law said, “All criminal cases must be tried during the daytime and must be completed during the daytime. If there is not enough time in one day, the trial must be adjourned until the following day. Criminal cases could not be transacted during the Passover season at all.” This trial took place at night, and it took place during the Passover season. Clearly, the law was broken.

The Sanhedrin was the supreme court of the Jews. It was composed of Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees and elders of the people; it numbered seventy-one members; and it was presided over by the High Priest. For a trial such as this a quorum was twenty-three. Besides breaking the law by holding a trial at night and during Passover, the Sanhedrin was also violating Jewish law in that they met in the house of Caiaphas. William Barclay tells us in his commentary that no decision of the Sanhedrin was valid unless it met in its own meeting place, the Hall of Hewn Stone in the Temple precincts.”

John 18, verses 28 – 30 says,

“Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, "What charges are you bringing against this man?"

30 "If he were not a criminal," they replied, "we would not have handed him over to you."

If it was early morning when Jesus was taken to the Roman governor, it had to have been during the night that the Sanhedrin had finished its trial of Jesus and found Him guilty. They were now handing him over for punishment. This is an additional violation of the Jewish law which said, “Only if the verdict was Not Guilty could a case be finished on the day it was begun; otherwise a night must elapse before the pronouncement of the verdict, so that feelings of mercy might have time to arise.”

Are we starting to see what hatred can do? Jesus was arrested at Gethsemane before any charges were brought against Him. This was a violation of the law. They again broke the law when members of the council searched to find two witnesses who could agree in testimony against Jesus. This because a man could only be condemned on the testimony of not less than two witness who were in agreement as to the crime, and the witnesses had to come forth freely.

Late in the questioning by the high priest, Jesus gave an answer that resulted in the charge of blasphemy. Here again the law was broken because under the law a man could not be condemned on his own testimony.

Those who tried Jesus were the Sanhedrin whose duty was to teach and uphold the law. But all of their honoring of the law went out the window because their hatred was so great they were willing to do anything to see Jesus dead.

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