The following is from our own Lee Pierce. Enjoy! -anita
I’ve spent a lot of time in the book of Mark of late, and one thing stands out to me: the appointed religious leaders of the land at the time of Jesus’ trial would bend any of God’s laws/commandments when it suited their purpose. These men, who were so proud of their knowledge of, and adherence to, the law, certainly knew when they were breaking God’s law, but did so anyway.
I’m talking about Jesus’ seizure, arrest, interrogation, trial, and punishment. It always struck me as odd, evil actually, that Judas was bribed by the same leadership which would later try Him. And that Jesus was arrested late at night, under the cover of darkness. I began to research some of the Old Testament laws concerning trials and criminal accusations, and was pretty amazed at what I found. While it is not new news that Jesus’ trial appears shady at best, it seems it was actually illegal under the very laws the religious leaders should have worked hard to uphold. In His commentary on Mark, Dr. R.C. Sproul comments: “Nearly everything about His hearing went in the face of Jewish law.”
Some things to consider:
- Impartiality—The ones who had Him arrested were the very ones who bribed Judas. These men had an evil agenda, clearly.
- Secret proceedings—Jesus was questioned by Annas in private late at night. In his book, “Jesus Before the Sanhedrin,” M.M. Lehmann states that no session of the court could take place “between the time of the evening and the morning sacrifice.” The whole process occurred late at night!
- Indictment was false—Several sources note that the Sanhedrin never originates charges against a suspect. One is not even accused until two or more witnesses speak in public to initiate such accusatory proceedings. According to Mark 14: 55-59, many were giving false testimony (lying) against Jesus and “yet their testimony was not consistent.”
- Trial before sunrise—The Jewish Mishna states, “Let a capital offense be tried during the day, but suspend at night.” And court cases were to be tried in public. In Jesus’ case, the trial was at night in the private home of the high priest (Caiaphas).
- Trial before Sabbath—The Mishna also states, “They shall not judge on the eve of the Sabbath, nor on any festival.” Both were contravened here.
- Rapid trial—again, the Mishna states that acquittals in criminal cases can happen the same day as the trial but a sentence of death “cannot be concluded before the following day.” This is to allow time for witnesses for the accused to come forth. Of course, this “court” wanted no such witnesses to appear any way.
Yet with all of this as a backdrop, none of this was a surprise to our Lord. It was foretold hundreds of years before this false trial and execution happened. [Is 53:1-9] In the pages of Mark, Jesus spoke hardly at all even in the face of false accusations [see Mark 14: 53-65] All of this “that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.” [Mark 14:49] Our Lord knew what purpose He had in coming to this earth, and He did everything in a way to ensure that all such prophesy concerning Him would be faithfully fulfilled.
I like Dr. Sproul’s conclusion from all of this: “Yet, that Jesus suffered such injustice from evil men helps us to better appreciate His mercy.” He died for All the sins of man, even those when we act unjustly…what an awesome God we serve!