Humble Hero


The Illegal Trial of Jesus

This chapter is based on Matthew 26:57-75; 27:1; Mark 14:53-72; 15:1; Luke 22:54-71; John 18:13-27.

Through the hushed streets of the sleeping city they hurried Jesus. It was past midnight. Bound and closely guarded, the Savior moved painfully to the palace of Annas, the ex-high priest. Annas was the head of the officiating priestly family, and in deference to his age the people recognized him as high priest. The leaders regarded his counsel as the voice of God. He must be present at the examination of the prisoner, for fear that the less-experienced Caiaphas might fail to secure the result for which they were working. They must use Annas’s cunning and subtlety, for they had to obtain Christ’s condemnation. HH 322.1

Christ was to be tried formally before the Sanhedrin, but before Annas in a preliminary trial. Under Roman rule, the Sanhedrin could only examine a prisoner and pass judgment, to be ratified by the Roman authorities. It was therefore necessary to bring charges against Christ that both the Romans and also the Jews would regard as criminal. Christ’s teaching had brought conviction to more than a few priests and rulers. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were not called to this trial, but others might dare to speak in favor of justice. The trial must unite the Sanhedrin against Christ. The priests wanted to establish two charges. If they could prove that Jesus was a blasphemer, the Jews would condemn Him. If they could convict Him of undermining Rome’s rule, it would secure His condemnation by the Romans. HH 322.2

The second charge was what Annas tried to establish first. He questioned Jesus, hoping the prisoner would say something to prove that He was seeking to establish a secret society with the purpose of setting up a new kingdom. Then the priests could deliver Him to the Romans as a creator of revolt. HH 322.3

As if reading the inmost soul of His questioner, Christ denied that He gathered His followers secretly and in the darkness to conceal His plans. “I spoke openly to the world,” He answered. “I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing.” HH 322.4

The Savior contrasted His manner of work with the methods of His accusers. They had hunted Him to bring Him before a secret tribunal, where they might use perjury to obtain what it was impossible to gain by fair means. The midnight arrest by a mob, the mockery and abuse before He was even accused—this was their manner of work, not His. Their action was in violation of the law. Their own rules declared that everyone should be treated as innocent until proved guilty. HH 322.5

Turning upon His questioner, Jesus said, “Why do you ask Me?” Had not spies been present at every gathering of the people and carried information to the priests about all His sayings and doings? “Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said.” HH 323.1

Annas was silenced. One of his officers, filled with anger, struck Jesus on the face, saying, “Do You answer the high priest like that?” Christ calmly replied, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?” His calm answer came from a heart sinless, patient, and gentle, that would not be provoked. HH 323.2

Christ received every indignity from the hands of the beings for whom He was making an infinite sacrifice. And He suffered in proportion to His holiness and hatred of sin. His trial by men who acted as demons was a perpetual sacrifice for Him. To be surrounded by human beings under the control of Satan was revolting. And He knew that by flashing out His divine power, He could lay His cruel tormentors in the dust. This made the trial harder to bear. HH 323.3

The Jews expected a Messiah to change the current of people’s thoughts by one flash of overmastering will and force them to acknowledge His supremacy. So when Christ was treated with contempt, a strong temptation came to Him to show His divine character, to make His persecutors confess that He was Lord above kings and rulers, priests and temple. It was difficult to keep the position He had chosen as one with humanity. HH 323.4