Imagine…the Savior of the World on trial. For what? What crime is it for the Son of God to become the Son of Man in order to bring redemption to you and me? Sobering thought, isn’t it?
I’ll do my best to help make Jesus’ trials come alive for you…but you’ll need to read God’s Word in order for it to come alive!
Prior to Judas’ betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had celebrated the Passover with His disciples in the Upper Room. (Luke 22) The Upper Room of Jesus’ day is no longer standing, though there is a site that commemorates the place of that Passover meal. The site is on Mount Zion and is called Dormition Abbey.
From this locale, Jesus walked with His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane, where He was betrayed by Judas. (See yesterday’s post.) Shortly thereafter, Judas hung himself, likely in the Valley of Hinnom just south of Temple Mount. This is the Valley of Hinnom (or Gehenna) today. (As a side note, the ancient Jews deemed this valley accursed, as it is the valley in which children were sacrificed to the god Moloch.)
Once betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was put on trial six times (3 religious, 3 civil) over the next few hours…all illegal trials. In the midnight darkness, Jesus was taken first to Annas, a former high priest and father-in-law to Caiaphas, the present high priest. Jesus was not yet charged with anything, yet faced illegal interrogation. Likewise, it was not legal to strike a prisoner, or to try a person at night. Take a moment to read this account in Luke 22 and John 18:12-27.
Jesus also appeared before Caiaphas, his second illegal trial. (Also held at night, and with false witnesses.) Notice, in the passages above, that while Jesus was being interrogated, Peter was put to the test as well…and denied Jesus. This place is perhaps one of the most sobering to me for two reasons. First, who of us has not “denied Jesus” in some way? The grief that Peter must have felt…and the grief that we face when we deny Jesus and His ways in our lives. Secondly, at Caiaphas’ house, Jesus was thrown into a dungeon through a hole, to be kept there until early the next morning…when He would be tried for the third time. In that dungeon, He must have agonized. He was alone and forsaken. (Read Psalm 88, a Psalm He likely recited.)
Today, a Byzantine-era church sits atop Caiaphas’ house.
This is likely the dungeon Jesus was thrown into, via the hole in the ceiling. (There were obviously no light fixtures or stairs here in Jesus’ day.) Imagine Jesus alone, in utter darkness, in this dungeon. Brings deep meaning to Psalm 88, doesn’t it.
Meanwhile, outside Peter was denying Jesus…perhaps in this courtyard. The statue commemorates that event.
Early the next morning, Jesus was taken to appear at a third religious (and also illegal) trial before the Sanhedrin. (Illegal for several reasons…it was a feast day – Passover, the Sanhedrin was not polled as required by law, Jesus had no one to represent Him, and the law required a day of fasting between a sentence and an execution.) Imagine Jesus being led down these steps from Caiaphas’ house to the Council Chamber of the Sanhedrin.
These were the first three (religious) of six illegal trials of Jesus. Tomorrow we’ll examine the three civil trials before Pilate and Herod. Hope the pictures help bring life to what Scripture tells us!
Shabbat Shalom! Shabbat is the Jewish Sabbath, from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. Thus, on the Sabbath, Jews wish one another Shabbat Shalom! (It’s approaching sundown Saturday, so I will get it in quickly!)