WHO’S IN CHARGE? (MATTHEW 26:57-68)
My wife and I loved legal dramas, especially the ones we watched when we were in the States, such as Law and Order and their spin-offs and The Practice. I read that good legal dramas must focus on the cases, and not the lawyers. Also the best legal dramas concentrate on the legal aspects of a case, and not on fingering someone else for the crime – not to be a cop show. Very often in legal drama, the lawyers appeal primarily to the jury’s emotion, rather than the law.
Our favorite Law and Order was the longest running drama in television history – 20 years - because it uses real case law to prosecute their cases. The attention-grabbing “ripped from the headlines” opening line to every episode is enough to catch your attention: “In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: The police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.”
The first half of each episode would follow two detectives (a senior and a junior detective) and their commanding officer as they investigate a violent crime. The second half of the episode would follow the District Attorney's Office and the courts as two prosecutors attempt to convict the accused. The show dwells little on the characters' back-stories or social lives – not their spouses, parents or chidlren, focusing mainly on their lives at work. There is no affair between the mentor, an older male superior, and his mentee, an attractive single lady, nor between the mentee and the two cops.
Jesus faced two big trials, one before Caiaphas and another Pilate. Present at the first major trial were the presider or high priest Caiaphas, the Jewish authorities or religious officials, and the Sanhedrin or Council. The Jewish authorities were in a hurry to convict Jesus because the feast of unleavened bread, which forbids a trail to be held, was near (Luke 22:1). Not only Jesus was not given a fair trial, he was sentenced before the legally-required night had passed.
Who is Jesus according to his critics and in his own words? What authority did the officials have and what authority did Jesus have? Why did He not fear, flee or fight his capture, conviction or critics?
Defend Yourself Without Apology or Arguing
57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome. 59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”
During the days of the Berlin Wall some East Berliners decided they were going to send their West Berlin adversaries a little “gift.” They loaded up a dump truck with all sorts of garbage, broken bricks, old tires, building materials, and any-thing else of zero value. They drove the truck across the border, gained clearance, and dumped it all on the West Berlin side.
Needless to say, the West Berliners were incensed and were going to “get even” with them. Fortunately, a very wise man intervened giving entirely different counsel. As a result, they responded by loading a dump truck with bags of food (scarce in East Berlin), clothing (also scarce), medical supplies (even more scarce), and a host of other essential items. They drove the truck across the border, carefully unloaded it all, and left a sign that read neatly: “Each gives according to one’s ability to give.” Zig Ziglar
In the beginning of the chapter the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled together at the palace of the Caiaphas high priest (Matt 26:3). Verse 57 is the second assembly, this time with Jesus captured. Matthew’s gospel said they “look/sought” false witness against Jesus (Matt 26:59). That was not the only thing they sought to do. The gospels described the five things they sought to do, including “sought false witness”:
The scribes and chief priests…sought how they might “destroy” him. (Mark 11:18)
The chief priests and the scribes sought how they might “take him by craft,” and “put him to death.” (Mark 14:1)
The chief priests and scribes sought how they might “kill” him (Luke 22:2)
It was intentional, insidious and illegal. They were desperate, deceitful and deadly.
Mark’s gospel also noted that false witness had failed the first time (Mark 14:56) before the two false witnesses showed up, yet the witness of the two did not agree, too (Mark 14:59). Why did the testimony of the two not match, according to Mark 14:59? Because Jesus did not say he will destroy, but consistently “it will be destroyed.”