Summary: A sermon examining the injustice of Jesus trial before the Sanhedrin.
THE TRIAL OF THE AGES
If you are old enough, you probably remember where you were on June 17th, 1994. If you turned your T.V on that afternoon you likely witnessed the infamous police chase involving a white Ford Bronco driven by A.C Cowlings. In that vehicle was an O.J Simpson, a football legend, sportscaster and actor, who had just been indicted for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman. 95 million viewers watched the "low speed chase" for more than an hour, it ended with O.J Simpson being arrested at his home in Brentwood California. That was far from the end of the story; from January 24th 1995 until October 3rd of 1995 you could not turn on the Television without seeing some sort of coverage of Simpson's trial. On October 3, in one of the greatest travesties of justice, Orenthal James Simpson was found not guilty of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Though public opinion was split along racial lines at the end of the trial, today a majority of Americans believe that Simpson is guilty.
That trial became known as "The Trial Of The Century". It is very likely that on October 3rd 1995 a guilty man was set free, but 2,000 years ago there was another travesty of Justice; on that occasion a completely innocent Man was convicted for crimes He had never committed.
I am speaking of course of the illegitimate trial of Jesus by the Sanhedrin. I would like to examine this trial for a little while and preach on "The Trial Of The Ages".
As we walk through this chapter we will find that:
1) There Was An Illegal Trial
2) There Was Insufficient Evidence
3) There Was An Irrational Judge
4) There Was An Innocent Defendant
5) There Was An Incorrect Verdict
- Let's begin in verses 53-59 and consider that:
I. THERE WAS AN ILLEGAL TRIAL v53-59
v53 And they led Jesus away to the high priest; and with him were assembled all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes. 54 But Peter followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he sat with the servants and warmed himself at the fire. 55 Now the chief priests and all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. 56 For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimonies did not agree. 57 Then some rose up and bore false witness against Him, saying, 58 "We heard Him say, 'I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.' 59 But not even then did their testimony agree.
After His arrest in Gethsemane, Jesus was taken to the home of Annas. - John 18:13 And they led Him away to Annas first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high priest that year.
Annas was a man of great influence among the Jews. When he was finished questioning Jesus, he sent Him bound to Caiaphas. In our selected text, Jesus is standing before the Sanhedrin. The word "Sanhedrin" means "a sitting together," or a "council." The 71 members of the Sanhedrin were the supreme judicial council of the Jews. Like our Supreme Court, the Sanhedrin was the highest court in the land. Members of the Sanhedrin were greatly respected by the Jewish people. These men were expected to be fair, just and impartial in their rulings. Caiaphas, The High Priest, was in charge of the proceedings that took place in this passage.
It seems that the enemies of Christ had planned every detail and orchestrated the events of that night/early morning. As Judas and the angry mob seized and arrested Jesus, the members of the council were gathering together at Caiaphas' palace anticipating this illegitimate trial. For some time these men had sought to stop the ministry of the Lord Jesus, now it seemed that they had their chance! What they did not realize is that the only power they had over Him was what He allowed them to have.
The trial that took place that evening was illegal for many reasons.
The timing of this trial made it illegal: This trial was held at night and at Passover; this was clearly prohibited by Jewish law. When a person's life was at stake the trial could only be held during the day. It was also illegal to try someone on the day before the Sabbath or before a holy day.
The location of the trial made it illegal: John tells us that this trial took place at the palace of the High Priest. According to Jewish law, this trial should have taken place in the "Hall of Hewn Stones" located on the Temple grounds.