Posts Tagged ‘Holy Week’

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Early on Thursday of Holy Week, Jesus sent Peter and John on a secret mission (Luke 22:7 ff). They were to meet a man carrying a water pot who would lead them to the place for the Passover meal.


Late Thursday night, after the Passover meal was finished; after Jesus had introduced what we know as “The Eucharist”; after He had poured out His heart in last-minute teaching on the way to the Kidron Valley; after He had prayed for Himself, His disciples, and for us; after He crossed the Kidron Valley and entered the Garden of Gethsemane; and after that soul wrenching encounter in the Garden – Jesus was arrested.


It was well past midnight by that time, and in those awful hours between then and “the third hour” on Friday morning (9:00am – Mark 15:25) when He was crucified, Jesus underwent 6 (illegal) trials. Three of the trials were religious, and three were civil – and each one of them was illegal because they each broke different components of Jewish Law. And… each represents trials that we still face today.


The first trial was before Annas, the former High Priest. Annas wanted to know Jesus’ intentions. This first trial is illegal because Jesus was interrogated without being charged with anything, and Annas had no right to interrogate Him anyway. Plus, it was against the Law to question someone at night, and it was also unlawful to strike the prisoner while he was being interrogated.


The next trial was before Caiaphas. He was the current High Priest and Annas’ son-in-law. Caiaphas sought to “find some kind of charge that they could bring against Jesus.” In other words, “What can we find wrong with Him?”


This trial is illegal for a variety of reasons. It was against the Law to have false witnesses, plus it too was held at night. The Law also stated that no trial could be held in any place other than the Council Chamber in the temple, and the High Priest was like a judge, they were not to accuse the one on trial. They were “supposed” to be fair, and we know that Caiaphas was anything, but!


The next trial was the “official” one. It was held in the daytime at the Council Chamber, with all the Sanhedrin and everything! (Luke 22:66-71)  “Surely” we cry, “It must have been legitimate!” No, it just appeared legitimate. It was just as illegal as all the others.


The third trial, the so-called “official” trial was also illegal for many of the same reasons that the first two were, but in addition:

  • The Law stated that no trials could be held on any Feast Day. This was Passover.
  • The Law stated that the Sanhedrin members must be polled to give their verdict. These weren’t.
  • The Law said that the accused must have someone to represent him. Jesus didn’t.
  • The Law stated that there must be 24 hours between a verdict and sentence, and if the sentence is guilty, there must be 3 days between the sentence and execution, with the Sanhedrin members fasting the day in between, just to make sure that the sentence is correct. (And none of this happened.)

The 4th trial was before Pilate. The Jews were “supposedly” bringing Jesus to Pilate out of concern for the civil law. They said, “We found this man misleading our nation, and forbidding people to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He, Himself is Christ, a King!” In other words, “We just thought you ought to know.”


The 5th trial that took place was before King Herod Antipas. Herod never really cared who Jesus was; he just wanted Jesus to “perform.” Actually he ridiculed Jesus, and treated Him like a joke. He didn’t care what the priests and scribes said about Jesus, he just didn’t see any relevance in Jesus at all.


For the last trial Jesus was brought back to Pilate. This trial should really make us think. Pilate has just about “had it” with this crew of priests and scribes. I think he is on the verge of letting Jesus go until this last turn of events.


John 19:12 says, “As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.”  Pilate was truly afraid that Jesus was God, but he was more afraid of Caesar than he was of God.


The last three “civil” trials are also illegal.

  • First of all, the charge against Jesus was changed. That was against the law. But, there was no way Pilate was going to accept a charge of blasphemy. They had to change it to treason.
  • Next, Pilate kept Jesus under arrest and bound even though he found Him innocent.
  • Herod, for his part, never even accused Jesus of anything. He just wanted to see some “miracle” performed.
  • And finally Pilate, without any proof of anything allowed an innocent man to be crucified.


There’s a lot more we could say about the trials and interrogations, but you can read and ponder the accusations for yourself. For the sake of time and space I want us to think about just what these trials may signify. I want us to look at what “kind” of trials they were, and do we face these ourselves? Some of these questions might be a little difficult to answer. But think about what they mean.


First, back to the trial with Annas. Annas was a former high priest, but the thing that gave Annas power was his political and financial connections. You see, Annas and his family owned the “concession” (you might say) to sell the animals for all the sacrifices at the temple plus he also owned the right for the money exchange. So… when Jesus turned over the tables of the money changers, He was attacking Annas’ source of income. And Jesus did this twice. Therefore this trial had to do with income. I think when Annas asked Jesus about His disciples and His teaching, he was really asking, “are you going to affect my business interests anymore?”


  •     The question for us is, “What kind of trial causes a conflict between my beliefs and my source of income?”
  •    Have you ever had to choose between what you did for a living and your beliefs?


The next trial at Caiaphas’ house sought to “find some kind of charge that they could bring against Jesus.” In other words, “What can we find wrong with Him?”


  •    We face that everyday, don’t we? What is “wrong” with following Jesus?
  •  Does “following Jesus” cause you to change anything about your life?


Anyone can say they believe in God, because “God” means different things to different people. But, you cannot say the name “Jesus” and remain neutral.


The next trial was the “official” one. It was held in the daytime, at the Council Chamber, with all the Sanhedrin. This one had “official” questions.


  •   For us, this kind of trial is when we (or we allow others to) raise all kinds of questions and issues about Jesus or the Bible for the sake of “clarification!” For instance, have you ever heard anyone say, “I know the Bible says you’re not supposed to lie – but what about “little white lies”? A lie is a lie – period.


  •  This is when people ask you about books like “The Gospel According to Judas” or “The Da Vinci Code”. They say, “I know it isn’t what the Bible says, but…”  How do you respond to questions about the Bible’s authenticity?


  •    Or when people say, “I know the Bible says that Jesus is the only way, but what about someone in deepest, darkest Africawho’s never heard of Him…?” The real issue is what about those who have heard of Him!


In the 4th trial which was before Pilate, the Jews were supposedly “concerned about the civil law.”

  •    Can you think of a time when “concern about the law” has caused problems for Christians?
  •     What about “separation of church and state”?
  •  What about posting the Ten Commandments or the Nativity scene or praying “in Jesus’ Name” in public?


Like the trial before Pilate we must ask what’s the real underlying reason for the trial?


The 5th trial that took place before Herod was what really made me start thinking of how these trials correspond to our lives today. As we said, Herod ridiculed Jesus, and treated Him like a joke. He didn’t care what the priests and scribes said about Jesus, he just didn’t see any relevance in Jesus’ at all.


  •  Isn’t this the biggest trial we face? The one of relevance. Most of the world (well most of our neighbors anyway) don’t care what others say about us as believers. They just don’t see any relevance to us at all…


The last trial before Pilate should really make us think.


  •   This trial is the trial of compromise and of fear. Pilate was terrified that Jesus really was God, but he was more afraid of Caesar.
  •   What did “Caesar” represent? His career? Maybe even his life?
  •   What is the “Caesar” in our lives?


In Matthew 10:28, Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”


Think on this as we close. What is the one common denominator, in every single person in this story, (other than Jesus, of course) and in every single trial? Is it not fear?


  • Annas was afraid of losing his income and prestige.
  • Caiaphas and the whole Sanhedrin were afraid that the people would turn to Jesus and they’d lose power. (In fact, I personally think that Caiaphas knew that Jesus was the Messiah, but that he thought he could beat Him. “Stupid”, you say? How stupid was it for Lucifer to think that he could be God?)
  • Herod was afraid that Jesus was John the Baptist come back to life, but when he saw him, he just ridiculed Him.
  • And finally Pilate was truly afraid of Jesus, but he was more afraid of Caesar.


During and in between these 6 trials, Jesus was spit upon, ridiculed, beaten with fists and flogged by the Roman soldiers who had made an “art” of beating people to within an inch of their lives. And knowing (in graphic detail) what was to take place before it happened, Jesus went on anyway. John 18:4 says, “So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth…”


And because of this, He walks with us in every trial we face – whether they are “fair” or not. Hebrews 2:18 assures us, “Since He Himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested.”


May God bless your Holy Week services and especially Easter Sunday Morning!


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