Three Jewish Trials
Armed guards bound Jesus and led him from the Garden of Gethsemane to the home of Annas, the former high priest. The Romans had previously removed him from this position because he had gained far too much power over the people. But the Jews continued to seek his advice and blessing. The old priest questioned Jesus about the things he was teaching. Jesus replied, “I taught in public places all over Israel, and I didn’t hide anything. If you want to know what I taught, ask the people who heard me. They know what I said.” When Jesus said this, one of the guards slapped him. “Is that any way to answer the high priest?” he demanded. “If I said something wrong, then tell me,” Jesus replied. “But if what I said is true, why did you slap me?” The guards took Jesus to Caiaphas’ home. He was the new high priest, and he was married to Annas’ daughter. Several religious leaders joined him. They were looking for evidence against Jesus so they could kill him, but they couldn’t find any. Several people came forward to give false statements against him, but none of their statements agreed. Two people had heard him say that he would destroy the temple and build another one in three days. But even they could not agree on the details. Jesus remained silent the whole time. Finally, in frustration the high priest said, “You are under oath. Tell us plainly—are you the Messiah, the Son of God?” “I am,” Jesus replied. “In the future you will see me sitting at the right hand of God and coming on the clouds of heaven.” The high priest was so upset that he ripped his clothes. He shouted, “We don’t need any more testimony against him. You heard him. He blasphemed against God!” Everyone there agreed, “He is worthy of death!” The guards spit on him and hit him. They blind-folded him and began taunting him saying, “Prophesy to us Messiah! Who hit you?” Very early the next morning, the ruling body of the Jews (called the Sanhedrin) brought Jesus in. “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.” Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me. From now on, I will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.” They asked him again, “Are you the Son of God?" Jesus replied, “You are right in saying that I am.” That made their decision easy. Jesus would be put to death! When Judas saw that Jesus was condemned, he was filled with regret. He returned the 30 silver coins to the chief priests and said, “I have sinned because I have betrayed innocent blood!” The religious leaders said, “What is that to us? That is your problem.” Judas threw the money down on the Temple floor and left. Then he hanged himself. The chief priests did not want to put the money back into the Temple treasury since it was “blood money.” So, they used it to buy a field where they could bury foreigners.
The religious leaders thought they were getting rid of Jesus. But their despicable attitudes and actions fit perfectly into God’s plan. By condemning Jesus, they contributed to our redemption. They provided a way for Jesus to die so that he could take away the sins of the world—and then be raised again! We should never doubt God’s sovereignty!