Into Passion Week (Part 3)

I have not studied law. I am not an attorney nor am I a court judge … but having glimpses of our past president wanting “his day in court” and being granted it, he has, over a lengthy period tried every trick in the law book to either delay the trial or have it removed from the roll. His corruption trial relating to what is known as the “Arms Deal” was to start today. Now he is in hospital having tests, which are unknown to the media. This case has been postponed due to his requests to have the highest court in the land review their decision to either strike the case off the roll or remove the state advocate from the case. I’m not too sure as all the delays and challenges have become complicated. Although the previous president is innocent until proven guilty, the state seems very confident that this case will expose damning evidence. There is another court case to consider … the prisoner is totally innocent, but the panel of judges is corrupt!

1) Jesus was arrested.

Mt 26:50 Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came for.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.

Maybe it was the manner they arrested Jesus that Peter responded, cutting off the servant of the High Priest’s ear … “seized”! The word “seize” means to lay hands on a person and get them under your power and the word “arrest” implies “prisoner”. Where they could have arrested Jesus during any day at the temple courts, they chose the darkness of night for two reasons.

(1) They wanted Jesus out of the way before the Passover started on the Friday night … and …

(2) They did not want a riot because of Jesus’ many followers. Once arrested in such a brutal manner Jesus spoke up saying

Mt 26:55 Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me?

The arrest and court hearing was set up before Jesus arrived under guard at the High Priest’s Palace.

Mt 26:57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled.

2) Judges were corrupt. We need to understand from the outset that the judges were not Roman Judges. They were religious rulers who carried a bias against Jesus. In fact they hated Him. John and Matthew write, respectively:

Jn 7:1 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life

Mt 26:3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him. 5 “But not during the Feast,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.”

What is strange is that these were supposed to be men of the “Law” and the Law prohibited anyone bias judging a prisoner.

3) Two religious trials were held.

Mt 26:59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death.

The “Law” required two sessions or two cases. The first one took place at 2am on the Friday at the High Priest’s Palace and the next one at 5pm at the Sanhedrin. What is interesting, the Law of Moses required accusations be investigated.

Dt 19:16 If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse a man of a crime, 17 the two men involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the LORD before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. 18 The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against his brother, 19 then do to him as he intended to do to his brother.

These two hearings were rushed and lasted less than 5 hours whilst normally a case lasted well into the following day. Then, there were no prosecution and defense lawyers. The “judges”, the religious men manipulated everything … and the verdict of the second hearing was just rubber stamping that of the first!

4) Witnesses were fake.

Mt 19:60 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.’”

It’s so peculiar that these men, steeped in the Law of Moses (Genesis to Deuteronomy) had no substantive evidence and had false witnesses testify against Jesus. When these failed to bring any valid evidence, two men appeared twisting Jesus’ teaching. Look at:

Jn 2:18 Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” 20 The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

This was after Jesus cleaned out the temple courts. What is interesting is the word “raise” and “raised” in John 2 could apply to raising a person, say from a seat, raise as in to be born or raise as in erect a building. Surely context ought to have been important, no, rather a guilty verdict was! The Law prohibited false witnesses.

5) Charges changed during the trials.

Mt 26:62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?” “He is worthy of death,” they answered.

From being a threat to these leaders, to destroying the temple to blasphemy. They needed something to stick. Something credible that would remove any guilt from them … and they got it when Jesus told them the truth. He admitted whom He was. For telling the truth he was judged guilty … literally for saying … “yes, I am the Christ, the Son of God.” We need to be very cautious that our Church Management reflects Gospel Principles and not personal desires. It is wicked for leaders to be corrupt, changing agendas and using false suggestions … all to suit themselves because it dishonors God.

Father, please keep our Church leaders pure in mind, decision and action in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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