The Illegal Trial Of Jesus Christ
The Sanhedrin Was Unlawfully Assembled
Ms Suzy, Jurist in this court room:
Jewish tradition holds that the Sanhedrin was established with the 70 elders that were appointed by God through Moses (Numbers 11:16), while the Israelites were on their wilderness journey between Egypt and the Promised Land, about two years after the Exodus (Numbers 10:11).
There is no record that the council operated then as it did in apostolic times however.
For this reason, some believe that the Sanhedrin actually began some time during the three or four centuries between the Testaments, when the land of Israel was under the Syrian kings in the time of the Maccabees.
The Hebrew laws were very strict in the matter of specifying the time during which a criminal, capital case, involving the penalty of death, could be lawfully tried.
In no event could such a trial be heard upon either of the following:
Upon a day before the Sabbath.
The Sabbath was, in these days, celebrated on Saturday.
During the Feast of the Passover, or any festival day.
Never in the night.
"Let a capital offense be tried during the day, but suspended at night."
"They shall not judge on the eve of the Sabbath (Friday), nor on that of any festival."
By reference to Biblical history we know that, when Jesus was conducting His great ministry, the Jews celebrated Saturday as the Sabbath. The "eve of the Sabbath" was, therefore, on a Friday.
It has already been pointed out, very definitely, and beyond dispute, that Jesus was arrested shortly after midnight hour, as He was leaving the Garden of Gethsemane; and that He was first taken before Annas, and then His trial began before the Great Sanhedrin about an hour later.
The best available records show that the Sanhedrin assembled some time near two o’clock on that Friday morning.
When the members of the Great Sanhedrin assembled that court, to try the Christ, they knowingly held the session at night, on a day before the Sabbath, and during the feast of Passover.
Uncounted thousands had already reached the great city of Jerusalem, to begin the celebrations
Jesus, in anticipation of the Great Feast, had, on the Thursday night before, partaken of the "Last supper" with His disciples, in the upper chamber, near Jerusalem.
The Jews had what they considered a valid reason for prohibiting the trial of a capital offense at night.
Here was why:
"The reason why the trial of a capital offense could not be held at night is because, as oral tradition says, the examination of such a charge is like diagnosing of a wound- in either case a more thorough and searching examination can be made by daylight."
Moreover, it will be realized that, back in those early days, they had very little light of any kind which might be used at night.
And the prohibition respecting nocturnal trials was for the benefit of any person accused of crime who, otherwise, would be subjected to appearing before the courts in virtual darkness.
One might naturally inquire:
"Why did the Sanhedrin in violation of the laws, conduct the sessions at night?"
The answer may be found in the realization that those evil-minded enemies of the Christ were afraid to try Him in the daytime.
They knew that hundreds of His friends were already assembled in the City of Jerusalem to celebrate the great Feast of Passover.
Also, that, among His many friends were Joseph of Aramathea and Nicodemus- both being members of the Sanhedrin, and men of wide influence.
Those two staunch friends of the Master were known as secret disciples of Jesus; and they would have most assuredly intervened in His behalf.
Knowing this, Annas and Caiaphas purposely left them off the list of the twenty-three members of the Sanhedrin who were summoned to be there that night for the so-called "trial" of Jesus.
It was Nicodemus who came to Jesus, after darkness had set in, seeking to learn more of the plan of salvation and eternal life.
He undoubtedly looked upon Jesus as the Son of God, for he went to no other in search of the answer to that longing of the soul.
And, we recall, it was Joseph of Aramathea who, when Jesus had died on Calvary’s hill, obtained permission from Pilate to bury the Christ in the personal tomb which he, Joseph, had been saving for his own use.
The Jews had been taught to never question, for a moment, any act of their high priest.
He, like the kings of old, was supposedly incapable of doing a wrong!
But how do you suppose they had felt down in their hearts on that eve of their Sabbath, and on the great festival day of Passover, when they witnessed the procession following Jesus to His crucifixion- in full knowledge that their sacred laws had been ruthlessly violated by the very men whose sworn duty it was to uphold them?
This is an example of the powerful influence which Annas and Caiaphas and Pilate had on the masses of the Jewish society.
Already, they had broken five separate laws: the unlawful arrest; the unlawful examination by Annas; holding the session at night; on the eve of the Sabbath, and during the Passover!
And we shall note that virtually every act which followed was likewise in deliberate disregard for the Jewish statutes!
When Judas Iscariot made his bargain with Annas and Caiaphas to betray the Master, it was a part of the unholy conspiracy for Judas to put the Christ into their custody at a time when Jesus friends would be unaware of His plight.
We recall Judas’ statement that he "sought to gain opportunity whereby he would betray Jesus in the absence of the multitude."
Those vile conspirators were rightly afraid of the multitudes who were avid followers of the Christ- until His condemnation by the Sanhedrin, when he was left friendless.
It was Caiaphas who "sought how they might take Him by craft, and put Him to death." And they planned the nighttime trials, in secret, "Lest there be an uproar of the people."
Under the Jewish criminal procedure the court was not permitted to adjourn its session for a longer period than a single night.
Therefore, they had the wise provision that a trial must not be started in the Sanhedrin on the eve of the Sabbath.
For if not concluded on a single day, it would have to be adjourned over to the Sabbath.
Then, too, as will be later shown, a capital case could not be concluded in a single day!
Having clearly established that the trials were conducted at night and on the eve of the Sabbath, we now give brief consideration to the error of conducting them during the feast of Passover:
All four of the Gospel writers tell us, beyond question, that, when the Christ was tried, the Feast of Unleavened Bread had already begun, and the great Feast of the Passover was then at hand.
Except for His arrest, Jesus would have proceeded into Jerusalem that same night, in order to be there for the Feast of Passover.
The City, as stated, was packed to capacity on that Thursday night, preparing for the Passover Feast.
Referring back to that statement of the high priest, Caiaphas, who said that they "sought how they might take Him by craft, and put Him to death," we make this further observation:
Standard dictionaries define the word "craft" to be the same as "deceit, slyness or trickery."
Skill in planning, making, or executing : dexterity
Skill in deceiving to gain an end : used craft and guile to close the deal
Related to CRAFT
- cast, compose, draft, draw up, formulate, frame, prepare
What a sordid and vile group of law-violators!
There they were, supposedly members of a court of justice and impartiality, deliberately resorting to deceit, slyness and trickery to take human life- under the guise of legal procedure!
No wonder they appeared apprehensive as to the reaction of the people, in the event they had attempted to conduct those trials like they did, but in daytime!
No wonder they had decided to cover up their vile deeds while the friends of Jesus were asleep, and while the moon was hidden behind the clouds!
Typical conduct of cowardly men!