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Current Teacher's Article
The Trials of Jesus
I often pictured the trial of Jesus with Pilate standing above a bloody and beaten Jesus, while Pilate washed his hands and the crowd shouted “Crucify Him.” However, I have learned that Pilate was not the only one to question Jesus.
Today we are going to put on our sandals and walk with Jesus through the last night of His earthly life as He endured not just one trial but six!
Jesus spent His last evening on earth eating the Last Supper with His twelve disciples. Following the meal, He and eleven of the disciples went to pray at the Garden of Gethsemane. During the night Judas, one of the twelve disciples, betrayed Jesus in the garden. After being arrested Jesus was questioned three different times before the religious leaders of that day. The three trials would be before Annas, Caiaphas, and Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin. But who were these people?
Annas: Annas served as High Priest of the Temple in Jerusalem. Later, Roman authorities removed him and appointed his son- in-law, Caiaphas, to replace him. The position of High Priest was a very powerful position. The High Priest attempted to achieve balance between the politics of the Romans and the religion of the Jews. Although Annas was not the "High Priest" he still retained the title of a "high priest" in the minds of the people and continued to be a member of the Sanhedrin. After being questioned by Annas, Jesus was then taken to Caiaphas.
Caiaphas: Caiaphas was married to the daughter of Annas. He was appointed to replace his father-in-law as High Priest in the Temple by the new Roman governor. Although he was the official High Priest, he shared the title with his father-in-law Annas. An ossuary, believed to be Caiaphas’ was discovered in 1990.
The Sanhedrin: The Sanhedrin was a group of seventy-one Jewish religious leaders who served as a religious supreme court at the time of Jesus. The Sanhedrin continued until the fifth century. The Sanhedrin was re-established in Israel in 2004.
The Charge: After questioning Jesus, Caiaphas tore his robe and declared Jesus guilty of blaspheme or claiming to be God. Knowing that they did not have the legal right to condemn someone to death, the religious leaders took Jesus to Pilate, the Roman official of the area.
Next, we will look at the civil trials of Jesus.
Although the Sanhedrin had the power to hand down the death penalty in capital cases, they could not execute anyone without the approval and consent of the Roman governor, who was Pontius Pilate. The Jewish leaders took Jesus to Pilate, charging him with the civil crime of insurrection.
Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor or “perfect” of Judea. As governor, Pilate oversaw the Roman military units assigned to Judea, collected taxes for Rome, and decided civil and criminal cases. According to the historian Philo, Pilate ruled with “briberies, insults, robberies, outrages, wanton injustices, constantly repeated executions without trial, and ceaseless and grievous cruelty.” Pilate spent most of his time in Caesarea but would travel to Jerusalem for Jewish feast days. Pilate was in Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread when Jesus was brought before him. Once Pilate realized that Jesus was from the Galilee region he sent Jesus to Herod Antipus, who ruled that area.
Herod Antipas was one of the sons of Herod the Great and ruled the region of the Galilee after his father’s death. Herod Antipas was like his father, Herod the Great, in that he was a builder and known for the building of the city of Tiberius. Herod put away his first wife and married his brother’s (Herod Philip) wife, Herodias. John the Baptist confronted Herod about his marriage to Herodias, and as a result was later beheaded by Herod Antipas. Scripture records that Herod was anxious to see Jesus because he had heard so much about Him. Herod questioned Jesus but Jesus did not respond. After Herod mocked Jesus, he dressed Him in a robe, and returned Him to Pilate.
Pontus Pilate received Jesus back from Herod and declared that he did not find Jesus guilty. Pilate offered to release Jesus but the crowd continued to demand His death. After Pilate questioned Jesus, he had Him scourged, and then crucified.
All six of Jesus’ trials took place between about 1 am and 9 am. Jesus was crucified about 9 am and died on the cross about 3 pm. It is interesting that two members of the Sanhedrin buried Jesus, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea.
As we take off our sandals today, we will be remembering these events in the coming weeks.Thankfully, the story does not end with the crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus. One bright Sunday morning, over 2,000 years ago,Jesus rose from the dead! As we celebrate the glorious resurrection of Jesus the Christ, our Messiah, we also look forward to His return!
Serving Him with Stick Figures,
Copyright 2013 Grapevine Studies
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