Doubts raised over legitimacy of trial

Serious doubts have been raised over the legitimacy of Messianic pretender, Jeshua ben David’s, trial, in reality a series of hearings before different authorities, and under precisely whose jurisdiction he was executed.

Following his arrest in Gat-Sh’manim, or Gethsemane, he was brought before the deposed Cohen Hagadol, or High Priest, Annan (in Greek, Annas), which produced no formal result.

Report of hearing:

Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.

“I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”

When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.

“If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”

Jesus was then led off to the Cohen Hagadol, or High Priest, Caiaphas. and the Sanhedrin (the high priest, and all the chief priests, elders and teachers of the law).

Report of hearing:

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. 

Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another, not made by man.’ ” Yet even then their testimony did not agree.

Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.  Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”

“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”

They all condemned him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.

The gravamen of the charge, to which Jesus made no reply, is the witnesses’ statement that that Jesus had prophesied the destruction of the Jerusalem sanctuary and the establishment of a new temple, which, according to contemporary Jewish expectation, appears to be the equivalent of a claim to Messiah-ship which, in itself, was not necessarily blasphemous. Jesus may, after all, have been the Messiah. What was, in their view, blasphemous, was Jesus’ reply to the high priest’s question: “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”

Further, his use of the title ‘the Son of man’ and his quotation of Psalm 110:1 and Daniel 7:13 are an unmistakable claim to his unique status and destiny, which Caiaphas was quick to grasp and interpret as overt blasphemy. ‘It was not blasphemy to claim to be the Messiah, but to speak with assurance of sharing the throne of God and of the fulfilment of Daniel’s vision in himself and his community was blasphemy indeed’ (Vincent Taylor).

Having reached a decision, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

It is not clear why they did this.

It would appear that the Sanhedrin had the power to pronounce and carry out the death sentence (by stoning) for religious reasons, including blasphemy, at this time, in which case, the words, “It is not lawful for us to put any man to death” (Jn. 18:31) would appear to refer to the Roman punishment of crucifixion, which the Romans alone could apply. It would appear that having found Jesus guilty of blasphemy, for which they could have stoned him, they wished for the Roman authorities to carry out the sentence by crucifixion. But blasphemy was not a charge admissible in Roman law, so they had to manoeuvre the Roman authorities into having Jesus put to death on grounds of sedition.

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