“The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death”
Surely this is one of the most damming sentences in Scripture. The religious leaders, responsible for the spiritual welfare of God’s chosen people, were seeking lies – or ‘alternative facts’ – which they could then use as a reason for having Jesus executed. It is small wonder that He had exclaimed earlier,
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness” (Matthew 23:27-28)
And surely that is one of the most terrible judgements that could be handed down from God to the shepherds of His flock.
Jesus did not have much to say to them because He knew what they were after. It was not the truth but an excuse to have Him crucified. So even when He was asked to comment on some of the allegations made against Him He remained silent. It was only when the high priest called on Him to respond to his direct question that He answered.
“But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:63-64)
This was what the high priest was looking for – not because it was the truth or something definite that they could debate with Him. It was a blasphemy deserving of death – unless of course it was true. That however did not cross their minds – notwithstanding His teaching and His miracles.
They were unanimous in their judgement.
“”He is worthy of death,” they answered. Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?” (Matthew 26:66-68)
And when they had finished with the Son of God they bound him and led Him to the governor, Pontius Pilate. How do I treat Him?
(Picture: Gerrit van Honthorst – National Gallery)