The Trial of Jesus… Part I
Text: Mark 14: 53-65; John 18:13-28; Matt. 26:57-27:1 ; Lk 22:54-71
Proposition: The trials of Jesus describe a time when He descended into the darkness knowing that it would set the events of the cross into completion.
Introduction: Proverbs 4:19 says, “The way of the wicked is like darkness;
They do not know what makes them stumble.” Much of what we are about to talk about this morning takes place as this kind of darkness stumbled over Jesus. Do you remember the words of Jesus to the guards and Roman soldiers who came to arrest Him in Gethsemane, “When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” (Lk 22:53) The trial of Jesus could better be described as a series of interrogations. Viewed in this way we see there were six trials or interrogations of Jesus that increase in severity and brutality. What is less clear is why this was essential to the plan of God in bringing about His plan of salvation. So let’s walk with Christ as He moves through each trial. Turn with me to John 18:13, 19-24.
I. The First Trial… The Interrogation Before Annas the High Priest.
High Priest was a title that could describe the current ruling one and ones that previously ruled. Annas ruled from 6 to 15 AD. Caiaphas ruled from 18 to 36AD. Look at how John details this in Jn. 18:13, “And they led Him away to Annas first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high priest that year.” When you drop down to verse 19 you see Annas interrogating Jesus. He asks about Jesus doctrine and His disciples. In essence it was a question that commanded Jesus to reveal the secret seditions and plots to take over Jerusalem and to disclose how many were involved. Look at Jesus answer in verses 20,21, “I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing. Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said.” Jesus was speaking within His rights, there were witnesses and they should be called if this were indeed a trial but Jewish trials were never to be conducted at night and never on the eve of a religious festival. Some have conjectured that Annas was only trying to allow Caiaphas time to gather the chief priests, elders and scribes. Things were unfolding faster than they had anticipated, they hadn’t wanted to arrest Jesus at all until after Passover (Mk 14:2). It was around midnight when Jesus was arrested, it took maybe 20 minutes to get Jesus to Annas house and the interrogation there lasted less than an hour. At around 1 in the morning Jesus is sent from Annas to Caiaphas (Jn 18:24), a 10 minute walk.
II. The Second Trial… The Interrogation of Caiaphas and the Chief Priests.
Caiaphas house was about a 6000 square foot building that served as residence and court and holding area on three separate floors. It’s possibly around 2 in the morning, the second interrogation begins with Caiaphas and some of the elders, chief priests and witnesses have been hurriedly convened. The best account of this is in Mark 14:55-65. It’s here that the false witnesses can’t get their stories together, it’s here that Caiaphas grows more and more incensed that he can’t find some legal pretext under Jewish law to condemn Christ. Finally Caiaphas demands, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”. They knew exactly who Jesus had claimed to be, this was no case of mistaken identity. They had been awaiting the Messiah for over 1000 years and they worshipped God… they just didn’t want Jesus interfering in their plans as they marketed God. Jesus had become inconvenient. Jesus responds to Caiaphas, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” It is both a prophecy of what literally will happen one day and at the same time is a warning. Jesus Christ is foretelling His second coming, a time when He comes to judge those who found Him inconvenient and a time when He comes in the clouds for His church. This statement is not lost on Caiaphas, he knows it is a direct claim to the deity of Jesus Christ and Caiaphas does what is directly against the Mosaic Law. Caiaphas tears his High Priestly robes. (Lev 21:10) Now the brutality begins, not as any expression of justice but simply as the unleashed sin of man. Now the blood of Jesus is spilt for the first time, now the rage of Satan increases. It is about 2 in the morning and for the next hour they mock Jesus, they spit upon Him, they beat and taunt Him. However, the problem still exists for Caiaphas that they need to have a formal gathering of the Jewish court called the Sanhedrin in order to lay charges against Jesus. Israel was an occupied state, they had no authority to execute people, that was in the power of Rome alone. So they needed a charge against Jesus that Rome would recognize. But the Sanhedrin could not be convened until the morning so for now Jesus was kept below in the lower area of the High Priests house until morning. (Psalm 88 2-8 )
III. The Third Trial… the Interrogation of the Sanhedrin.
This part of Jesus trial is recorded in Luke 22:66-71. The Sanhedrin begins by asking Jesus the same question Caiaphas had, ‘Are you the Christ?’ Jesus responds “If I tell you, ye will not believe: And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go. Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.” It is a statement that describes not only their unbelief and hardness of heart but also the resolute plan of God to direct them in that hardened heart. So they ask Jesus outright, “Are You then the Son of God?” So He said to them, “You rightly say that I am.” Their response, “…What further testimony do we need? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.” The third interrogation is over. In all three of these interrogations before Annas, Caiaphas and then the Sanhedrin the verdict is the same, Guilty! A large part of the Scripture in all of these accounts is a description of Peter waiting in the courtyard below from about midnight to about 3:30. Peter’s first denial of knowing who Jesus is comes during the interrogation of Annas. The second denial comes when He is brought before Caiaphas. I believe the third denial comes as they begin to beat Jesus, spitting on Him, mocking Him. This was happening just above where Peter is in the courtyard. All in the courtyard could likely hear what was being said and then the increasing volume of shouting as the abuse increased. I think it was at this point that Jesus looked out the window and made eye contact with Peter. The rooster had just crowed the third time and Peter was devastated by what he had just done. (Lk 22:61) Let’s stop there, we’ll look at the last series of the interrogations of Jesus next week but let’s return to the question asked at the very beginning, ‘Why were these interrogations essential to the plan of God in bringing about His plan of salvation?’ They had already made up their minds as to who Jesus was and what they wanted to do. Why not just arrest Him and then take Him to Pilate the next morning, why the interrogations, why the trials? Let me offer two suggestions: 1.
The Power of Darkness –Darkness refers to the domain of Satan. In Colossians 1:13,14 it says, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” The trials of Jesus which declared Him guilty do just the opposite, they show Him innocent. The power of darkness directed by Satan against Jesus and us was allowed by God, used by God to prove the Son innocent as the perfect spotless Lamb of God. In Job 12:22 it says, “He uncovers deep things out of darkness, and brings the shadow of death to light.”
The Power of Light – what the trials of Jesus exposed is the failure of the High Priest to do what they were appointed to do, (to intercede for mankind to God, to present sacrifice that seeks forgiveness) and at the same time it reveals the excellence of Jesus as our perfect High Priest. 1. Jesus must be chosen from human beings to represent them in the sacrifice He offers. 2. He can perform his representative function because He shares in human weakness. 3. He is called to this office by God. Consider Hebrews 2:10, “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” There is a proving of Christ, a demonstration of His willingness to experience suffering as that what also qualifies Him as our High Priest. To be sure the suffering of Christ occurred on the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual levels at a degree which no human suffering can compare nor comprehend fully. The power of light is as 2 Cor 5:20 says, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”