“Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled.” Matthew 26:57
One of the pivotal moments during Holy Week is the trial of Jesus. In any ordinary circumstance, there would be the possibility of either innocence or guilt. It seems clear however that the fate of Jesus was decided beforehand by the religious leaders.
Because of this, there were a number of irregularities in Jesus’ trial. His trial was not done according to the dictates of Jewish law. Those who ought to have known better disregarded the rules for a lawful trial. Here are some of the ways in which his trial was illegal:
- It was held during the night. No trial was to be held between the evening and morning sacrifice.
- The bribe paid to Judas was illegal under Jewish law.
- Testimony from an accomplice (Judas) would not have been acceptable as a reason to arrest Jesus.
- A trial for a capital offense could not be held on the day before a festival, as was the trial of Jesus.
- A person might be acquitted in a single day, but no one could be convicted of a capital crime on a single day, as Jesus was.
- No formal charge was brought against Jesus at his arrest, but the Sanhedrin sought charges during his trial.
- Those accused of crimes were to be given representation. Jesus was not allowed this right.
- Self-incrimination was not allowed as evidence. There must be two witnesses. Jesus’ declaration that he was the Son of God should not have served as admissible testimony against him.
- False witnesses were allowed to testify. Bearing false witness was strictly forbidden in the Ten Commandments.
- A trial was to be held before impartial judges. Those judging Jesus were not impartial, especially the presiding officer, the high priest.
- The sentence was passed against Jesus in the high priest’s house, not in the hall of the court. This was strictly forbidden.
- The charge was changed during the trial from blasphemy (the Jewish charge) to treason (the charge brought to Pilate).
The arrest and trial of Jesus was improper and against Jewish law on any number of counts. It is just another way in which our Savior bore disgrace and shame, for our sakes. Christ suffered so that we might understand the depth of God’s love. Christ died so that we might live.
With Warm Regards,