55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.
57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree. Mark 14:55-59

Here is an interesting observation. Only John records Jesus’ words, “Tear down this temple and in three days I will raise it up again,” and yet this was the charge, though misquoted, that the Sanhedrin tried to pin on Jesus. This is yet another pointer to the unity and authenticity of Scripture.

A second observation – Jesus’ arrest was purely opportunistic. The Sanhedrin had not prepared its case against Him. Once they had Him before them, their members had to think on their feet, and the whole debacle made them look like fools. Their witnesses could not agree on the evidence they were bringing and in no way could they find Him guilty of a charge worthy of the death sentence.

Thirdly – they finally charged Him with blasphemy, a crime punishable by death according to the Mosaic Law but how could He be executed for the truth? If His claim were false, their verdict and sentence would both have been just but what if He were the Son of God? That would make them all guilty of injustice and accountable for their verdict.

Both the Sanhedrin and Pilate made the error of not being transparent in their hearing of the evidence. The Sanhedrin was driven by hatred and Pilate by fear. They suppressed the truth by not hearing the evidence justly and by making their judgement driven by emotion. Pilate tried to wriggle out of condemning Him because he knew He was innocent but he was scared of the volatile attitude of the Jews.

This trial was ultimately not about Jesus. It was about them and the depth of depravity in the human heart – and these men are representative of the whole human race. Jesus was the test case for exposing what was in them! How often does this not happen. Our criticisms and judgments of others arise out of what is in our own hearts, not necessarily what is in the hearts or behaviour of others.

How would this trial have stood up in a court of law today? There is a sense in which our courts in many ways are no different from this court. How many times have the prosecutors not determined the guilt of the accused before the trial and not because of it! Let us not imagine for one moment that the sinners of today are any better than the sinners of Jesus’ day. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Luella Campbell

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