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Jesus’ Trial, Violations


Even according to the Jewish jurisprudence, there were violations in Jesus’ trial.

(1) Trial at night was illegal: Jesus’ trial was at night before an emergency meeting of the Sanhedrin. Caiaphas was the official High Priest during the trial. Annas, who was the former High Priest and father-in-law of Caiaphas, was the president of the Sanhedrin. Though the Sanhedrin ought not to have met at night per se, the plotters bent the rules because they were in a hurry to crucify Jesus.

(2) The trial location was wrong: The Sanhedrin met for the trial of Jesus at the High Priest’s house (Mt 26:58), instead of the designated chamber in the inner court of the Temple. Such a serious sentence as a death penalty ought to have been passed within the precincts of the Temple and near to the altar to ensure justice and also affirm that the decision was acceptable to God.

(3) The prejudiced Sanhedrin could only muster false witnesses: Most members of the Sanhedrin had in mind capital punishment for Jesus even before the trial. They were struggling to collect enough evidence to justify their false accusations against him. They failed to enlist even two witnesses who would agree to their testimonies. Out of frustration, “the high priest put a second question to him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ Then Jesus answered, ‘I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Almighty and coming with the clouds of heaven around him’” (Mk 14:61- 62). Based solely on this statement, the Sanhedrin pinned the charge of blasphemy on Jesus. Such questioning of the culprit in the Sanhedrin was said to be illegal.

(4) Crucifixion was not the punishment for blasphemy: The punishment for blasphemy was stoning to death (Lev 24:10- 16). However, the Sanhedrin wanted nothing but ignominy of the gruesome torture and humiliation of the crucifixion for Jesus. This resulted in the fulfilment of the Old Testament symbolism of a bronze serpent raised on a pole for saving sinners and also Jesus’ prophecy that God would exalt him (Jn 3:14; 12:32-33). Hence, the crucifixion judgement was illegal, even if Jesus was guilty of blasphemy.

(5) The Sanhedrin did not take enough time for the judgement: Death sentence within a day was illegal. The Sanhedrin must sleep over the proceedings for one night before pronouncing the sentence. This did not happen in Jesus’ case.

So, the time, the place, the trial procedure, and the punishment were all illegal. It only goes to show that hatred and prejudice can lead us to unjust decisions and judgement against others in the family or community. Like Jesus, who came not to judge but to save, let us be saviors of others in trouble. The second coming of Christ will be only for judgement and reward for the righteous.

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