The holidays had just ended. I was back to school, aged 15, and ready to meet our new religion teacher.
“Another annoying guy”, I thought to myself, when the priest entered our classroom and greeted us.
I expected him to do explain us a few stories from the Bible that the adolescent I was had only little interest in. But this man, whose name and face I have completely forgotten by now, truly surprised me.
He looked at us and told us: “You will have to order a New Testament. All of you. We are going to need it, because we are going to investigate a crime scene. Actually, we are going to examine the accusation of Yeshua in detail and you’ll be able to conclude if He was innocent or guilty. We will compare the four Gospels and spend some time working together and gathering details…”
I was very surprised. I don’t recall how the rest of the class reacted to it, but I remember I found this challenge quite exciting. I felt like a detective on a great venture, trying to find out if the man who was accused was guilty or innocent…”
I’ve forgotten a lot of details, but I remember that the whole class managed to prove Yeshua’s innocence by mentioning precise details from the Gospels.
Yeshua’s trial is a scene that would impact me years later and that I would recall a month before my Salvation. Yeshua’s trial is a parody of justice, a horrible drama that mixes betrayal and false accusation chiefs, that our Lord accepted to undergo, for you and me, and for everyone, so your sins would be washed in His blood.
Yehuda (Judas Iscariot)’s betrayal: the fulfilling of a Tanakh prophecy
Zechariah, chapter 11, verses 12 and 13 foretell the ridiculous estimation of our Lord’s “value”:
“Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages, but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out my wages thirty pieces of silver. Then the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”-the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirt pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord, to the potter.”
The Gospel of Matthew reports us the fulfilling of the prophecy (Matthew 26:15).
A lot of people like to argue about the actual value of 30 pieces of silver represented in Antiquity. While some people would agree to rate it about $ 324, some others would approximate its worth to $ 6000. Honestly, I do think that such debate is a pure waste of time. Money has a relative value anyway: to the very poor, 100 euros are very much; to the wealthy one, the same amount is just a tiny bit of ridiculous pocket money.
One should rather look at Exodus 21:32 that teaches us that the price of a slave was of 30 pieces of silvers, which ridiculously corresponds to the estimate of the price of our Lord’s life.
Did Judas realize that the members of the Sanhedrin intended to kill Yeshua? The Gospels give us a hint that he became aware of it progressively. He would regret it bitterly and give the money back, so the prophecy would be fulfilled. Judas’ remorse was so intense that he didn’t believe Yeshua could ever forgive him, so he hanged himself.
The procedure of Yeshua’s trial: unfair and illegal
The outcome of Yeshua’s trial is the result an organized plot. The usual judicial proceeding of the Hebrews was not respected at all.
Please check this excellent Messianic study about Yeshua’s trial and the implications for the Feast of Passover.
Some people objected that people were treated violently in Ancient Times. It might be true for a lot of ancient civilizations, but the Hebrews had a very elaborate judicial system, especially regarding capital offense. Even a person who has condemned to death had to be treated fairly before the Sanhedrin, before witnesses, and at specific times.
Who was involved in the plot?
“Then the head cohanim and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of Kayafa the cohen hagadol.
They made plans to arrest Yeshua suppretitiously and have Him put to death ; but they said, « Not during the festival, or the people will riot.” Matthew 26:3-5, Complete Jewish Bible
Prior plans had been made to arrest Yeshua and to find a way to put Him to death, as the Gospel of Matthew clearly reports it.
John confirms us the deliberate will of Caiaphas to have Yeshua killed:
“And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.”
Yeshua had just finished praying at Gethsemane, then came Judas with an armed crowd:
“While Yeshua was still speaking, Y’hudah (one of the Twelve!) came, and with him a crowd carrying swords and clubs, from the head cohanim, the Torah-teachers and the elders.” Mark 14;43 Complete Jewish Bible.
First point to take note of: the illegal arrestation of Yeshua, that takes place at night.
The Sanhedrin was composed of 71 members presided by the High Priest (Caiaphas). The High Priest was usually assisted by a vice- president, who sat at the right hand of the High Priest.
Other members included mostly Sadducees and Pharisees.
What were the charges held against Yeshua?
All charges were irrelevant and the whole proceeding completely illegal from Yeshua’s arrestation to His condemnation to crucifixion.
None of the four points mentioned in Moshe’s Law have been respected i.e certainty of indictment, publicity of the discussion, full freedom granted to the accused, assurance of all dangers of errors of testimony.
To be undergo capital punishment, one must be found guilty of a capital crime. Here is a (non exhaustive list of what is considered a capital crime under the Jewish law):
-sacrificing to other gods than IHVH
-cult of Baal
-passing children through the fire
-necromancy and witchcraft
-murder, smiting a parent, refusing to be obedient to parents, being a false witness
are also listed, among others, sexual practices such as adultery, prostitution, incest, homosexuality, zoophilia, etc..
Caiaphas and the elders were looking for false witnesses, and their testimonies did not concurr.
Seeing that their strategy failed in so many ways, the only way to get Yeshua crucified by the Roman authorities was to charge Him with blasphemy, as He claimed to be the Messiah of Israel.
Yeshua before Annas
On the very night of His arrestation, Yeshua was taken to the former High Priest, Annas, Caiaphas’ father in law.
The interrogation that takes place is completely illegal. In order to be able to accuse Yeshua, witnesses should have come forward to prove his guilt. The discussion should have happened during the day. In addition it was forbidden to harm the accused physically.
Instead of calling witnesses forward, Annas asks Yeshua about His doctrine.
Yeshua’s answer, that doesn’t show irreverance towards Annas in any way is a pretext to induce violence and charges against Him.
“I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together, I have said nothing secretly. Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me; what I said to them; they know what I said. When He had said this, one of the officers standing by stuck Yeshua with his hand,, saying, “Is that how you answer the High Priest? Yeshua answered him: “If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness to the wrong, but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me,” Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the High Priest. (John 18: 20-24)
Yeshua knows that His rights are being violated in this moment and that His answer is fully justified. To prove Him right or wrong, witnesses should have been brought forward- in defence and accusation. Matter of fact: there is NONE.
Yeshua is brought to Caiaphas bound.
Quoting, the following page, Yeshua’s slapping was rather harsch: ” (the word in the original text, rhapisma, means a sharp blow with the flat of the hand.” credit to Jesus-story.net)
Yeshua, a political threat to Annas?
In many ways, Yeshua represented a threat to the religious establisment.
First, the religious establisment was trying to get rid of Him,because He questioned the practices of the Sanhedrin members, such as relying on traditions of man rather than the Word of Hashem.
Secondly, Yeshua was a threat to the Temple, at least in Sanhedrin member’s minds, because He made the misunderstood statement about the Temple of His body:
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” John 2:19
Yeshua’s quote was intepreted as an allusion to the physical Temple of Jerusalem.
Third, claiming to be the Messiah had some political implications. Especially the High Priests thought that Yeshua would put their power in jeopardy in regards to Rome.
Yeshua had made a lot of enemies, among the Scribes and the Pharisees, whose hypocritical practices He denounced constantly.
His confrontation with the money changers was probably one of the main reasons why some leaders deeply disliked Him. Yeshua’s words were direct and sharp as a sword:
“It is written, ‘My House shall be called a House of Prayer’, but you are making it a robber’s den.”
painting of Annas, by Thyssot
On the way to Annas
Trial before Caiaphas
Annas having failed in finding accusation charges, Caiaphas also fails miserably in bringing some false witnesses forward.
The only clever way to make Yeshua look guilty is to bring what he considers as “blasphemy” into His mouth.
“He kept silent and did not answer. Again the High Priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him:
“Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One? And Yeshua said: “I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of Heaven. Tearing his clothes, the High Priest said, “What further need to we have of witnesses?”
Some people objected that Yeshua pronounced IHVH before Caiaphas. I would like to be more prudent on this point, knowing that Yeshua has always been very abiding in His practices and devoted to the Father. Thus, why would He pronounce our Father’s Name in a public audience? Revealing His identity as Maschiach was sufficent to provoke Caiaphas’ ire, as far as I am concerned. The clear allusion to prophet Daniel chapter 7, verse 13 would sent Him to death.
However, the Jewish law would forbid to put a man to death. Caiaphas would need to refer to the authority of the Roman occupant.
Stones leading to Caiaphas’ house
Yeshua before Pilate and Herod Antipas
Caiaphas is in a hurry to get rid of Yeshua before Passover. Very early in the morning, he hands Yeshua over to Pilate.
Caiphas tries to press charges against Yeshua:
“We found this man subverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the Emperor and claiming rgar he himself is the Messiah-a King!” Complete Jewish Bible, Luke 23:1-2
Despite all the desperate tactics , Pilate found no ground of charge against Yeshua.
Yeshua’s case must have been embarassing to the procurator of Judea, who was relieved when he knew that Yeshua was actually a Galilean, so he could send the case before the juridiction of Herod.
Herod seems to have been such a selfish man filled with much pride. The king expected Yeshua to perform a miracle. He probably thought that Yeshua, especially because His life was threatened, would comply and do some show for his court. But Yeshua did not perform any miracle and Herod ended up making fun of Him and sending Him back to Pilate.
Pilate, who reiterated Yeshua’s innocence, wanted to give Him an exemplary punishment and then release Him.
But, before the religious establishment’s pressure that involved Caesar and the harranguing of the manipulated crowd, Pilate washed his hands, in order to escape each responsibility by sending Yeshua to death by crucifixion.
Antisemites,-and a lot of them have been encouraged to do so by Catholic Church for Centuries-have argued that “Israel chose Barrabas”, which is an erroneous statement. As the Gospels report it, Yeshua had many allies, and even within the Sanhedrin, such as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea.
A lot of simple people in Israel and especially in Galilee were very attached to the Master. Young women in Jerusalem are reported to have wept at the scene of the Crucifixion.
The crowd that shouts in favor of Barrabas is a specific crowd, that is manipulated and dominated by the employees of religious authorities. This is a point that needs to be set straight to do away with this ugly “God killer” myth, once at all.
The Shroud of Turin, a witness of our Lord’s torture
Contemplating the Shroud of Turin will teach you very much about the physical abuse our Lord underwent. Please allow me to share this high quality shot that David Hines sent me.
I’d also like to point out, once again, that some people should stop putting a blame on Jewish people for Yeshua’s death and crucifixion.
As our Lord pointed it out, He laid down His life by Himself. It was part of His Salvation plan for mankind. Yeshua loves us all, Jew and Gentile, and by His blood we are purified.
Let us turn our hearts to Yeshua our Messiah and thank Him for His immense goodness. Amen.
Copyright© by Isabelle Esling