The Jewish Trial of Jesus Part One

John 8:12-14

Walter M. Chandler is a former member of the New York bar of lawyers. He is the author of an excellent book on the trial of Jesus. He has written, “These [other] trials, one and all, were tame and commonplace, compared with the trial and crucifixion of the Galilean peasant, Jesus of Nazareth.” He is speaking such trials as the Watergate trial among others. The trials we may think of were before earthly courts. The trial of the Nazarene was before the high tribunals of both heaven and earth; before the Great Sanhedrin, whose judges were the master-spirits of a divinely commissioned race; before the court of the Roman Empire, which controlled the legal and political rights of men throughout the then known world.

It is of great importance that we study the trail of Jesus because it was in haste. Its elements, when studied in the light of ancient law, reveal that they were done illegally. Such questions as the following are raised:

-Was Jesus guilty as charged?

-What were the charges against Him?

-Were proper procedures followed or were they violated?

Here are some questions that will be discussed in our study.

First, we must look at the arrest. This subject has been covered, but I would like to mention a few more facts. This took place on the evening before the Jewish Passover in the year A.D. 30. It happened on a Wednesday, April 5. It would have been late. The approximate time would be between eleven or twelve o’clock at night. It happened through the agency of a band of temple officers or Roman soldiers. Their guide was Judas.

Second, there was a Jewish trial. This had three separate parts:

-The primary hearing by night was before Anna. This is what John records. He uses the phrase “the high priest” which may mean both Annas and Caiaphas. Caiaphas probably presided over the second trial. The possible reason for this can be seen in the fact that according to Jewish law, the high priest held his office for life. The Romans saw this as a problem because it gave too much power to the individual. The Romans did remove individual who were not to their liking. Caiaphas was the Roman appointee. Annas (the elder high priest) would have been recognized as the true high priest by the Jews. It is apparent that John describes the appearance of Jesus before Annas. At this appearance, Jesus refused to testify against Himself. He was unjustly struck by a minor court officer.

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