Summary: This court didn’t have appeal; nothing attactive about it. Although Jesus was innocent of all their accusations, they fabricated a case against Him so they could put Him away.
THE COURT WITH NO APPEAL
The Sanhedrin that tried Jesus was one sided. In our court today, someone may appeal from a lower to a higher court for a new hearing if he was falsely accused. But the Sanhedrin was different.
This council had no appeal, meaning, nothing attractive or interesting about it. The 71-member (including high priest) abused their power to get to Jesus. This court was very dangerous. They can throw anybody to jail if they wanted to. That’s what they did to Jesus. They were supposed to be servants of truth and justice but that wasn’t the case with Jesus. They did a very dirty job. They fabricated a case against Jesus so they could put Him to death, they produced witnesses who gave false testimonies (Mk 14:56-59). Basically, the hearing was illegal:
• held at night. Jewish trials are only held during the daytime
• held on the eve of the Passover (Jewish custom usually forbade criminal trials right around the passover festival)
• Jewish court had no power to carry out death sentence (Mt 27:1,2; Jn 18:31)
Deut 17:6, one cannot be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. It has to be on the testimony of two or three witnesses can a man be put to death. And each one’s testimony has to corroborate the others, meaning all their testimonies when put together must be consistent. It must support one another to draw a strong evidence to prove the accused of his guilt or innocence.
In verse 19 it says: “the high priest questioned Jesus about His disciples and His teaching.” In this light let us talk about:
1. Jesus’ hostile friends
2. Jesus’ disciples
3. Jesus’ teachings
1. JESUS’ HOSTILE FRIENDS
The Pharisees and Sadducees were two religious groups in the time of Jesus who wanted Him out of the picture so bad that they had to devise an evil plan to kill Him so they would just go about their normal business. Jesus was gaining popularity among the Jews so they wanted Jesus out. These religious groups were very influential because they were supposed to be the ones that knew the Scriptures well and supposed to be practicing them religiously. At the onset of Jesus’ ministry, they hated Jesus already.
On many occasions they tried to trick Jesus into saying something so they can draw a case against Him to finally get rid of Him. Like at one time when they asked Jesus this question: “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we? (Mk 12:14,15)
Jesus replied: “Why are you trying to trap me?
If Jesus said “No” they would report Him to the Roman governor for tax evasion and face treason (the overthrow of government).
If Jesus said “Yes,” they would report Him to the Jews as being disloyal to His nation.
But what was Jesus’ answer: ’Bring me a denarius and let me look at it. . . Whose portrait is this? They answered, “Caesar’s.” Then Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” (Mk 12:15-17)
Jesus was a threat to their whole way of life. Jesus was a thorn in their flesh. They thought “When Jesus was out, our business will be back to normal again.” “If not for this Jesus we would have prospered more.” That was basically what was in their mind as they followed Jesus wherever He went around Galilee, Caesarea, Jerusalem preaching, teaching and healing. They followed Him with prying eyes. Jesus was gaining attention. They hated Jesus with passion. They made it too
personal. It was political.
Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane when the soldiers took Him and they “brought Him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year.” (Jn 18:13)
Why was Jesus brought to Annas first (18:13) then later on to Caiaphas (18:24)?
Annas was the Jewish high priest from A.D. 7 to 15. Even after he was removed from office, Annas’s power and influence remained considerable. The Jews may have continued to think of him as high priest during times when Caiaphas actually held the office (Luke 3:2; John 18:19, 22-24; Acts 4:6). The fact that Annas here was conducting a private inquiry of Jesus after he was arrested (John 18:13, 19-24), is a strong indication that he still held great power among the Jewish religious leaders. Caiaphas was high priest (John 18:13, 24) from A.D. 18 to 36, during Jesus’ public ministry.
2. JESUS’ DISCIPLES
The same religious group questioned Jesus about His disciples.
“Look why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” (Mt 12:2; Mk 2:24)
This was on one Sabbath when Jesus and His disciples were walking through a grainfield that the disciples started picking some grain. This was considered working. Matthew told us the reason “because the disciples were hungry.” (Mt 12:2)