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Mark 14:53-65 Jesus On Trial: Before The Sanhedrin

by Dr. D ~ January 20th, 2007

Following his arrest, Jesus was taken to the high priest and before a hastily called session of the Sanhedrin.  The trial of Jesus can be divided into two parts- first the religious trial before the Sanhedrin, and second the legal/political trial before Pilate and Herod Antipas (However, the Gospel of Mark does not include the appearance of Jesus before Herod).

The second trial was necessary because the Sanhedrin and the Jewish religious authorities did not have the legal right to carry out capitol punishment.  The Roman authorities (including Pilate and their puppet King Herod) retained that legal right and power solely for themselves.        

     Vs. 55-59  Notice that the chief priest had already decided to have Jesus killed.  The so-called trial was merely an opportunity to find the necessary pretense or excuse for carrying out their plans to eliminate Jesus.  In their ‘religious’ trial, false testimony was entertained and condoned, even though there was little agreement among the so-called witnesses.  All contrary to the Mosaic Law.

The Sanhedrin needed to find a reason within their religious laws to have Jesus condemned; but they also needed to be able to support and demonstrate that Jesus was guilty of a serious breech of Roman law (like treason) that would assure a sentence of death by the Roman authorities.  The Jewish authorities were faced with a dilemma.  Seemingly no charge could be constructed or found that would satisfy both the religious and legal requirements for a sentence of death.  So what if Jesus did say that he could tear down and rebuild the Temple in 3 days?  What would that mean to the Romans?  They would never kill someone for making crazy statements. 

     Vs. 60-64  At this point, the Sanhedrin really had nothing to charge Jesus with, after all their efforts.  Anyway, nothing that the Romans would be interested in.  Then the high priest (Caiaphas-who remains unnamed in Mark) challenges Jesus to answer the charges.  Jesus continues to remain silent.  Finally, the high priest asks Jesus if he is the Messiah, ‘the Son of the Blessed (God)’.  There were rumors that Jesus had made claims for himself that went beyond the title of Messiah- The Anointed One. 

When Jesus answered: “I Am“, he used the personal name of God and actually was claiming it as his own and he was claiming to be Divine.  Further more, using the ‘Son of Man’ title, he was claiming to be the divine figure represented in Daniel 7 who was to receive everlasting dominion over all the earth.  The reaction from the high priest and the Sanhedrin was immediate.  They all understood what he was claiming.  It was blasphemy for sure and worthy of death. 

     Vs. 65  The groans and the shouts of the leaders were probably deafening at that point.  Some left their seats and began to spit on Jesus and while others proceeded to hit him.  The ‘respected’ council was nearly in a riot when the guards finally took him away.

I can never understand those scholars who teach that Jesus never claimed to be the divine Son of God.  The reaction of the chief priests and scribes make it very clear what they believe that Jesus was declaring here.  They finally had the charges that they needed from his very own mouth.  1.  The religious Charge:  Blasphemy–claims to be equal with God.  2.  The legal Charge (For the Romans): Treason-Claims to be the Messiah–The true King of the Judah and the whole world (Dan. 7). 

The entire Sanhedrin agreed to condemn Jesus to death, at least all of those who were present at this trumped up session.  Not exactly the high point in the history of this venerated council.


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