No one wants to be judged - especially in a court where the judge is crooked.
We turn our eyes toward the dark of night in Jerusalem - a bound and shackled Jesus has been drug back across the Kidron Valley to the house of the high priest. [note: it is religious men who were responsible for the sentencing of the Messiah]
The disciples have dispersed, save two as Jesus is thrust before Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, in what is the first of six trials, that will span about nine hours. Effectively, the first three trials are conducted by religious officials, and the latter three by Roman officials. Clearly, the Jews are intent on putting Jesus to death, but under Roman law, they have no authority to do so. Therefore, a wicked, corrupt Annas pokes around, asking Jesus questions about his teaching and disciples, looking for reason to hand him over for a Roman sentencing. When he gets nowhere, he sends Jesus to Caiaphas.
Caiaphas leads the Sanhedrin, also known as the Jewish Supreme Court, so several of these men come to his house to interrogate Jesus. The hour is about 3 a.m. making it a breach of the Jews’ own laws. See, no man could be arrested for a crime of this nature at night, and no Jewish trial was to be held at night. Mark’s gospel records that when Caiaphas asks Jesus if he’s “the Christ,” Jesus answers him with,
“I Am.” Jesus claims to be the Son of God—so now he is guilty of blasphemy. Here’s the thing—either he is who he said he is, or he is a liar, or he is a blasphemer and worthy of death under Jewish law or he is mentally deranged!* Caiaphas tears his collar and shrieking accuses Jesus of blasphemy; several spit on Jesus, some strike him with their fists, and still others slap Jesus. All the while, Jesus chooses to remain defenseless; oh, and he is still shackled.
The third religious trial convenes around 5 a.m., as a battered, bloodied Jesus is brought before the (unlawful) meeting of the full Sanhedrin —some 71 men, and the Jews’ highest court. They come to the quick decision to put Jesus to death, wanting to expedite the matter so they can execute Jesus by Sabbath, and return to celebrating the Passover. In order for that to happen, they will have to change the charge against Jesus from blasphemy to treason; that way, Pilate has reason to act.
As the Jews take Jesus to Pilate, (Trial no. 4—the first civil trial), they are careful to remain outside, so as not to defile themselves, and become unable to eat the Passover meal. Pilate is under tremendous pressure to act swiftly and forcefully, as he has Rome’s scornful eye watching, having had too many Jewish uprisings in his province. It is now daylight as Jesus is brought before Pilate, who cautiously finds no fault in Jesus, and relieved, sends him to Herod, believing he has ‘dodged a bullet’.
Meanwhile, Jesus’ legs grow wearier, his arms throb from being battered, his face is bloody and his head is aching from the blows he has sustained. Oh Lord Jesus, I am so sorry.
And I ponder again how he loves us ... oh, how he loves you and me!
He is my King of Kings,
* C.S. Lewis