Summary: This sermon is a very simple walk through of portions of the trials Jesus had to go through on the night he was betrayed with very brief application.
March 22, 2006 Matthew 27:1-2
Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death. They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor.
In the last hour of darkness we saw Judas hand Jesus over for trial with a kiss in the Garden of Gethsemane. The next time period takes us through the night to the early morning, where Jesus is put on trial before Annas, Caiaphas, Pilate, Herod, and then Pilate again. The last time God showed up for a trial - that I can recall - was way back in the book of Job. If you recall, God wasn’t too happy with it. Job had been spent the previous thirty some chapters accusing God of all kinds of things - not caring for the righteous, rewarding the evil, being indifferent to wickedness - and God had remained quiet through it all. Finally, after all of Job’s belly aching and accusations, God showed up in a thunder cloud and put Job back in His place. The trial was over and done without one of Job’s questions being answered. Instead, Job ended up with his tail between his legs - repenting in ashes over his foolishness. Would the same thing happen here as God is put on trial? Let’s find out.
The Early Morning Trials
First of all, Jesus was brought to Annas - the former high priest and father in law of Caiaphas - the current high priest. John 18 says, “the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.” Annas main line of questioning seemed to be concerned with the doctrine of Jesus - and the fact that Jesus had gathered disciples to Himself. He was on a doctrinal head hunt - suspecting that Jesus was some sort of David Koresh or Jim Jones type of character - as if Jesus was running some sort of fly by night operation. This was also a stall tactic - used to gain time so some of the Sanhedrin could gather for trial before Caiaphas. Jesus simply told Annas that He could ask anyone what He taught - since He taught openly in the synagogues and the temple. During this time Jesus received some of his first abuse, as He was slapped in the face and then turned over to Caiaphas.
I don’t know exactly what time it was when Jesus was handed over to Caiaphas; perhaps one or two in the morning. The law was specific that no trials could be held at night. God’s Word also talks about the darkness having a fear of the light. It gives good indication of how this trial was going to go. Mark 14:55-56 says, “The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death.” Usually you arrest someone AFTER there is evidence of a crime, not before. The punishment is not stated until after the crime is proven. The exact opposite happens here. Their punishment is already revealed before the trial; to put him to death. So they arrest him and then look for evidence to find a reason to do it.
Remember those commercials for Snickers that ended with the punch line, “not going anywhere for a while?” That’s exactly what ends up happening here. Talk about a kangaroo court; we who know Jesus as true God would obviously realize that they were going to have a long night if they were looking to find some dirt on the Holy One of God. It shouldn’t surprise us as the text goes on, “but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.” The only two people who could agree said that Jesus was going to “tear down the temple.” Yet even those who heard Him say this knew that Jesus was talking about His body, because they were the first to post the guard to make sure His body didn’t raise. This whole trial was getting to be an embarrassment to the Sanhedrin and the chief priest.
I find it rather ironic that those who thought they could accuse God of wrong doing were seemingly the most educated in the law of God. Somehow they felt that with their great learning that they knew more than Jesus - that they could find plenty to accuse him of. The more they studied the Word - the more they thought they were right - and God was wrong. I would call it an arrogance of learning. It happens in the wise scholars that permeate our universities - who look at the Bible and the things that God does in the Bible; and put judgment on these things as if the God portrayed in the Bible were some sort of neolithic monster. In the same way the Sanhedrin were so consumed with their positions and their knowledge and education that they thought they could easily judge Jesus - and here they found themselves floundering for evidence.