From Heaven With Love


Chapter 75—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 Saviour 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 he was recognized by the people as high priest. His counsel was sought as the voice of God. He must be present at the examination of the prisoner, for fear that the less-experienced Caiaphas might fail of securing the object for which they were working. His cunning and subtlety must be used, for Christ's condemnation must be secured. HLv 465.1

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 against Christ charges regarded as criminal by the Romans and also in the eyes of the Jews. Not a few priests and rulers had been convicted by Christ's teaching. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were not now to be summoned, but others might dare to speak in favor of justice. The trial must unite the Sanhedrin against Christ. Two charges the priests desired to maintain. If Jesus could be proved a blasphemer, He would be condemned by the Jews. If convicted of sedition, it would secure His condemnation by the Romans. HLv 465.2

The second charge Annas tried first to establish. 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 insurrection. HLv 465.3

As if reading the inmost soul of His questioner, Christ denied that He gathered His followers secretly and in the darkness to conceal His designs. “I spake openly to the world,” He answered. “I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.” HLv 466.1

The Saviour 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 obtain by perjury what it was impossible to gain by fair means. The midnight seizure by a mob, the mockery and abuse before He was even accused, was their manner of work, not His. Their action was in violation of the law. Their own rules declared that every man should be treated as innocent until proved guilty. HLv 466.2

Turning upon His questioner, Jesus said, “Why askest thou Me?” Had not spies been present at every gathering of the people and carried to the priests information of all His sayings and doings? “Ask them which heard Me, what I have said unto them; behold, they know what I said.” HLv 466.3

Annas was silenced. One of his officers, filled with wrath, struck Jesus on the face, saying, “Answerest Thou the high priest so?” Christ calmly replied, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou Me?” His calm answer came from a heart sinless, patient, and gentle, that would not be provoked. HLv 466.4

At the hands of the beings for whom He was making an infinite sacrifice, Christ received every indignity. And He suffered in proportion to His holiness and hatred of sin. His trial by men who acted as fiends was to Him a perpetual sacrifice. To be surrounded by human beings under the control of Satan was revolting. And He knew that by flashing forth His divine power, He could lay His cruel tormentors in the dust. This made the trial harder to bear. HLv 466.5

The Jews expected a Messiah, by one flash of overmastering will, to change the current of men's thoughts and force an acknowledgment of His supremacy. Thus when Christ was treated with contempt, there came to Him a strong temptation to manifest His divine character, to compel His persecutors to 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. HLv 467.1