It should have been me that was hauled into court in the middle of the night followed by the betrayal of one who had walked with me. I was guilty. I deserved no special counsel to defend me, no witnesses to speak for me. I deserved no grace, no mercy, and no second chances. And Jesus knew it. He knew that I was flawed through and through and had repeatedly failed Him. He knew I would fail Him again, even though I did not want to. I was no better than Peter…good intentions and yet fearful, unable to stand when the time came.
Even so, after that wretched scene in the garden when Judas arrived with as many as a cohort of Roman soldiers, He stepped in with the agreement He had made from the very beginning of time and allowed himself to be taken to the courts in my place.
The Romans must have feared Him (just as the high priest and the Pharisees). What need was there to send a cohort that may have been as many as 600 men? All those times when He had been teaching and preaching never resulted in riots. Surely they must have considered the possibility that He was the Son of God after all and yet they moved forward with the illegal trial just the same.
The might of Rome prized itself on the laws they had developed, but at this trial they violated no less than seven of their own laws in their haste to destroy this One whose power they feared would dissolve their own.
He went with the soldiers willingly even as He would willingly go to the cross. He chose the path He was to take. He chose me and He chose you when there was no excuse or reason that He should have except His great love and desire to extend compassion, grace, and mercy despite our lack of merit.
What an exhausting debacle of a night it was.
It was Annas He was taken to first. Annas was the power behind the throne in Jerusalem, father-in-law of Caiaphas whom he had put into office, and known for his cruelty and unscrupulous manner of persecution. That would be the first stop for Jesus in the long exhausting seven hours He would be tried through six different trials.
Annas would send Him then to Caiaphas. After all, it was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be good for one man to die for the people. He governed by his own rules and policy that he set without equity. He was part of the plot and he would play his part well before sending Jesus to the Sanhedrin so the religious leaders and scribes could weigh in even though they had no power to demand His death by crucifixion.
Since only Rome could accomplish that grisly form of death on a cross, Jesus would need to be sent to Pilate, representative of the Roman Emperor. He loved to wield power, but on this night he would be reluctant to do so. Was it his wife’s haunting dream that made him hesitate? He tried to pass it off to someone else and sent Jesus to Herod Antipas who was in charge of that region, but Herod would send Him back to Pilate to fulfill the role he was destined to play.
Did Pilate hope the torture he subjected Jesus to would satisfy the Jews who were insisting this man be put to death?
Nothing would intervene on this night as the unjust trial went down in history for what it was. How unjust, even for Rome?
Study of the laws of the time will point to 7 things that were illegal about the trial that should have been mine or even yours. What were they?
- Impartiality was not given.
- The trial began before all the witnesses were brought into the court.
- Those witnesses that were presented were false witnesses with no credible evidence of their complaints.
- It was a capital trial that would result in a potential sentence of death. Such a trial was not permitted to happen at night, but it did.
- Due to the nature of a capital trial and the grave judgments that would be passed down, time for deliberation was to be given to assure this was the just choice of judgment. Instead, the verdict would be pronounced on the spot without deliberation.
- The nature of a capital trial required that it not be held before the Sabbath or a holy day since a delay was required to come to the final judgment.
- The testimony of the accused, the testimony of Jesus, was never considered.
No high priest could execute Jesus. The might of Rome could not take Him down. Only He would choose to give up his life and lay it down willingly for each of us.
And so it was that Jesus endured the unjust trials meant for me, meant for you. But it was His choice. He chose us and became the second Adam so that we would not be separated from Him if we would only believe in Him.
What kind of love is this?