|Twelve Reasons Why Jesus' Trial Was Illegal - 1959
If Jesus were tried in many of today's courts He would be found guilty and executed! — even though He were innocent! Read WHY.
The trial of Jesus was ILLEGAL. He was fraudulently convicted by Jewish and Roman courts. He was executed by crucifixion even though His judge found Him innocent! Why?
It is time we understood what was behind Jesus' crucifixion and learned the twelve outstanding reasons why the arrest, trial and conviction of Jesus was illegal.
Modern Courts Would Execute Jesus A COMMUNIST CONSPIRACY is afoot today to prove that Jesus was legally crucified. Here are surprising statements from a book unconsciously influenced by this conspiracy. The book, entitled The Prosecution of Jesus, is by Richard Wellington Husband. Concerning the trial of Jesus he charges on Page 281: "The arrest was legal. The hearing by the Sanhedrin was legal The course of trial in the Roman court was legal. The conviction was legal, and was justified."
This man, a lawyer, is undoubtedly sincere in his convictions. He has been a professor of classical languages at Dartmouth College!
Mr. Husband is not the only man who has been unconsciously influenced by communist propaganda. But his contentions are better written than most. Here is how Mr. Husband justifies his shocking beliefs: "The arrest" of Jesus "was legal, for it was conducted by the proper officers, acting under instructions from the Sanhedrin. There was no illegality in the circumstances under which the arrest was affected. The hearing by the Sanhedrin was legal, for it was merely a preliminary hearing, and was not a formal trial. The course of trial in the Roman court was legal, for it harmonized with the procedure shown in the sources to be pursued by governors of provinces in hearing criminal cases."
Pilate conducted himself as other judges did, contends Mr. Husband. That made it legal! It is a strange way of reasoning. But that is the point of view of many who have been unconsciously influenced with Communist propaganda,
Now here is his final conclusion. "The conviction was legal, and was justified provided the evidence was sufficient to substantiate the charges, and the records," he writes, "do not prove the contrary"!
Just imagine! A professor in one of America's leading colleges — Dartmouth — spouting out that there is insufficient evidence in the Bible to show that any reversal of Jesus' conviction was justified. Here is a man, who, if he had sat on the Sanhedrin, might have sincerely said, "He is guilty."
Why? What makes supposedly Christian lawyers believe Jesus was guilty?
The Jewish Point of View I have another book before me. It contains the Jewish point of view. The book is entitled The Trial of Jesus of Nazareth, by Max Radin. He has been a professor of Law in the University of California. This book was published by The University of Chicago Press. From page 229, I quote the following: "If he [Jesus] had said only a tithe (tenth) of the things credited to him it was enough to make an indictment."
Imagine! If Jesus said only a tenth of the things credited to him, that was worthy of "an indictment." So states Max Radin.
In this same book on page 109, I would like to quote the following about the trial of Jesus. Mr. Radin, who has been taught from childhood to believe what he does, says there is "no clear statement of how the knowledge of the trial came to those who reported it." Radin has been taught to believe that neither Matthew, Mark, Luke nor John had any personal evidence because the trial was private, a secret affair.
What he neglected to soy, of course, was that Jesus Christ, who was condemned, rose from the dead and is alive today. The One who heard everything, who was there on trial, rose from the dead and told the disciples what occurred so that they could report it to us that we might know today.
But let us continue with the Jewish point of view. On page 231 you will discover the following statement as to what a normal Jewish trial was like in Jesus' day: "We are, most of us, familiar with the procedure of criminal investigations. The accused person is arrested, arraigned before a committing magistrate, specifically accused, and formally tried. He may and he generally does, appeal to a higher court, if he is convicted. All these things take time, and there is almost necessarily an interval of weeks and months between the later stages of the procedure. But above all the procedure is strictly regulated by law, and any serious deviation is not merely an irregularity but will probably prevent punishment from being inflicted."
Notice that most trials involving criminal procedure take weeks, if not months. Did you know that Jesus' trial was completed in less than nine hours after His arrest? And it was all done in private, secretly, so that there would not be day witnesses who could, testify on his behalf?
How does Mr. Radin reconcile these facts?
On page 241, he reasons: "'Mark's' version, even by his own testimony, cannot be more than a guess. Instead of a hurried night meeting, a harsh and brief interrogatory, a disregard of established rules of evidence and procedure, the trial may have been formally correct, and, the judgment even from the point of view of an upright judge just though severe."
Do you see how these men reason? He assumes that Mark was guessing. Then he assumes it could have been conducted as he thinks. His conclusion is that even "an upright judge" may consider Jesus' condemnation a "just" decision though a bit severe! The only evidence of the trial comes from the Bible. There is no other historical record to justify the Jewish point of view or the point of view of atheistic communist propaganda.
Could the Jews Have Executed Christ? What power did the Jews have to convict and to execute Jesus Christ?
"According to the common view," reports Mr. Husband in his book, page 210, "the right to try capital cases," that is, cases involving death penalties, "and even the right to pronounce sentences, still rested with the Sanhedrin, but the actual penalty could not be inflicted until the governor" that is, the Roman governor — in this case Pilate, "had given his sanction."
But this view is not true. The Jews not only had the power to try certain crimes, but they had the power to convict and the power to execute in all but cases of treason or sedition.
The assumption that the Jews had no power to execute is incorrectly based on John 18:31-32. Here the Jews had said that, "It is not lawful for us to put any man to death." Lifting it out of its context, critics have assumed that the Jews had no lawful right whatsoever to put anyone to death. But this does not happen to be the case.
Have we forgotten how Stephen died? The Jews said, "He blasphemes," and they stoned him to death. The Romans didn't disapprove. When Jesus first preached his sermon the day of Pentecost in Nazareth in Galilee, the Jews sought to stone Him to death. If it were illegal, they wouldn't have dared try it. The Romans would have pounced on them.
The Jews brought to Jesus a woman who was committing adultery. They said, "Moses wrote in the law she ought to be stoned to death. What do you say?"
If they had no right to stone any to death, Jesus could have said very simply, "Don't you know under what law you are living?" And what would they have felt like before the Romans — if that would have got to Pilate's ears? But Jesus didn't say any such thing. Jesus accepted the fact that they had the right to execute adulteresses and other criminals. He told the guiltless to cast the first stone!
Paul was stoned in Asia. Not only in Judea, but in other areas of the Roman world, wherever the Jews were settled it is plain the Jews had the legal right to execute the penalty of their law.
Here is what Mr. Husband himself admits in his own book, page 19: The Romans agreed that "the high priests should enjoy the same privileges which they had possessed before the coming of the Romans." And on page 29, he admits almost the same thing: "We learn that the Romans allowed to the subject nations all the rights that were consistent with an adequate administration, and did not conflict unduly with Roman interests." And page 33: "The ecclesiastical law of the Jews was allowed to stand unchanged." Josephus even bares testimony to the fact that the Jews could execute criminals and enforce punishment for any violation of the Mosaic law.
But why did the Jews make the statement that we find recorded in John 18:31 and 32?
Here is the answer: "From the earliest period the Roman governor took cognizance of all matters that had any relation to the public security or the majesty of the Empire. Consequently there was no time at which the Roman magistrate would not step in when a charge of treason was made, or a seditious movement begun. The case against Jesus is one especially in point, for the charge against him [treason] could under no circumstances be tried by any tribunal except that of the governor."
Only when it came to treason, civil disobedience, encitement to revolution, attacks against the majesty, that is, Caesar, did the Roman government decide that it was proper that its governors or representatives should intervene. Otherwise, all local administration was carried on by the people and the regular constituted courts of the conquered nations, of the provinces, or the allies of Rome.
The Jews accused Jesus of blasphemy. But they did not want to execute Him. So they charged Him with treason before the Romans.
What the Jewish religious leaders had to do was to trump up charges of treason against Christ in order to bring it up to Pilate so that they would appear not to be responsible for His death.
Summary of Events After the Passover service, which must have lasted to nearly midnight, Jesus went out and prayed. Then Judas came with a mob. In that mob were the High Priest, and the judges and all the jury, inciting the mob as they went out to arrest Him.
After He was arrested, Annas examined Him alone. He was ex-High Priest. They next took Him to Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, before sunrise while it was yet night, where He was informally condemned.
After sunrise, the Sanhedrin quickly condemned Him formally to justify their previous conduct. Then, they took Him to Pilate on different charges. Pilate wanted to wash his hands of the whole affair. When Pilate found Jesus was of Galilee, he sent Him to Herod. After Herod saw Jesus and could not get anything but silence from Him, Herod decided to let Him go back to Pilate. Then, at the second time before Pilate, the Roman governor, under heavy pressure from the Jews, gave sentence — even against his own will, after he washed his hands of it!
These are the six steps through which Jesus went from after midnight to nearly 9 o'clock. And at 9 o'clock He was crucified. At 3 o'clock that afternoon, He was speared in the side and killed (Matthew 27:49, Moffatt translation). Shortly before sunset, He was buried. That's how quickly the Jews got rid of their Savior!
Now let us examine the illegal bases of the trial of Jesus.
Judas' Betrayal "Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed, with the chief priests and captains, how he might BETRAY him unto them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude."
Judas' treachery developed as a result of Jesus' rebuke to Judas for having condemned the woman who anointed Him with oil. Judas had said to Jesus, "Why didn't you give that to the poor." Judas wanted that money himself. He would have taken the oil, gone out and sold it, then claimed he gave it to the poor, and pocketed the money. That is what he wanted to do for he was a thief (John 12:1-9). Judas felt he was about to be discovered.
So he went to the chief priests and the captains who bribed him to deliver Christ in the absence of the crowds who listened to Jesus. The idea was to have Jesus seized privately, so the public, especially the Galileans would not know until it was over!
The Galileans, remember, kept the Passover on the eve of the 14th of Nisan. The Judeans did not. They incorrectly kept it one day later. Many Galileans were up as late as midnight.
They probably slept late the next morning. Many may not have arisen next morning until the time Christ's crucifixion was over.
The priests' plan was to get Jesus at night, try Him at night, sentence Him just after sunrise, to make it look legal, take Him to Pilate, encite a mob to get Pilate to condemn Him, have Him crucified, if possible, even before 9 in the morning, before those favoring Him would be up.
Who made up the mob which arrested Jesus? The answer to this question brings us to the first error in Jesus' conviction.
We should now examine, point by point, the twelve primary reasons why the arrest, trial and conviction of Jesus Christ was illegal.
First Reason The principle on which any trial may be considered illegal is the fact that it is prejudicial against the man who is tried — that it is not fair — that it does not allow him to have full recourse of law so that he might present his part of the case.
Now notice the illegal steps in Jesus' arrest, trial and conviction. The first point is that JESUS WAS ARRESTED ILLEGALLY. His arrest was contrary to the law of those who arrested him.
Consider John 18:2-8: "And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place" — where Jesus was after that Passover night — "for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore. went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him" by a kiss "stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way."
Now continue with Luke 22'.52, "Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and, captains of the temple, and, the elders, WHICH WERE COME TO HIM, Be ye come out as against a thief, with swords and staves?..."
Those who went to have Christ arrested included the priests and elders — His judges! They were also the very ones who bribed Judas!
Jesus was arrested secretly, gestapo-like by night. He was not arrested on the formal charge of any crime. There was no charge presented here! There was no warrant for His arrest, no statement of what He had done. They just simply took Him.
Contrary to what Mr. Husband said in his book The Prosecution of Jesus, THERE WAS NO LEGAL BASIS on which Jesus was arrested. Nobody had presented testimony or evidence of guilt to the Sanhedrin whereby they could have requested His arrest.
Here is what the Jewish law declares on this point. Mendelsohn says in his Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews, page 274: "The testimony of an accomplice," that is, Judas, "is not permissible by Rabbinic law... and no man's life, nor his liberty, nor his reputation can be endangered by the malice of one who has confessed himself a criminal."
The very fact that Judas took a bribe from the judges was certainly proof that Judas was a criminal!
Second Reason The first step in Jesus' trial was a preliminary examination in a PRIVATE NIGHT PROCEEDING before Annas (John 18:12-14, 19-23). Notice the Jewish law on this point from Dupin's book, Jesus Devant Caiaphe et Pilate (a French work): "Now the Jewish law prohibited all proceedings by night." Salvador in his Institutions de Moise, pages 365, 366 declares: "An accused man was never subjected to private or secret examination... " Yet Jesus was! From the Jewish Mishna (Pirke Aboth IV, 8) we read the following command: "Be not a sole judge, for there is no sole judge but One."
According to Jewish law, as stated in the Jerusalem Talmud, the Sanhedrin sat from the close of the morning sacrifice to the time of the evening sacrifice. And Lemann says in his book, Jesus Before the Sanhedrin, Page 109, "No session of the court could take place before the offering of the morning sacrifice." No night meetings were Permitted!
The Jews permitted such an investigation only upon daylight.
Third Reason The INDICTMENT against Jesus was itself illegal.
According to the law of the Jews, declares Edersheim in Life and Times of Jesus the Messiab, Volume I, Page 309: "The Sanhedrin did not, and could not originate charges."
But in Jesus' case, it did!
Here was the proper Jewish Procedure, as stated by Innes in his book, The Trial of Jesus Christ, page 41: "The evidence of the leading witnesses constituted the charge. There was no other charge; no more formal indictment." In Jesus' case there at first had been no witnesses presented. The Jews simply arrested Him and started to accuse Him'
Continuing: "Until they [the witnesses] spoke, and spoke in the public assembly, the prisoner was scarcely an accused man. When they spoke, and the evidence of two agreed together, it formed a legal charge, libel, or indictment, as well as the evidence for its truth."
Next consider what Mendelsohn writes in his book, The Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews, Page 110: "The only prosecutors known to Talmudic criminal jurisprudence are the witnesses to the crime. Their duty is to bring the matter to the cognizance of the court, and to bear witness against the criminal" — after he is arrested. "In capital cases, they are the legal executioners also. Of an official accuser or prosecutor there is nowhere any trace in the laws of the ancient Hebrews."
In the case of Jesus there were no witnesses who presented their evidence to the court. The court took it upon itself to secretly arrest Jesus; then they had to find false witnesses.
Fourth Reason The Sanhedrin court illegally proceeded to hold its trial of Jesus before sunrise.
Notice that the preliminary investigation before Annas brought forth no evidence whatsoever! Instead of dismissing the case they proceeded to hold an illegal court.
Why was it illegal? Mendelsohn states: "Criminal cases can be acted upon by the various courts during day time only, and by the Lesser Sanhedrins from the close of the morning service till noon, and by the Great Sanhedrin till evening" (page 112).
The trial of Jesus was begun at night without any witnesses to defend Jesus!
Here is what Maimonides writes in Sanhedrin III: "The reason why the trial of a capital offense could not be held at night is because... the examination of such a charge is like the diagnosing of a wound — in either case a more thorough and searching examination can be made by daylight." An interesting way of putting it, but nevertheless true!
The Mishna says, Sanhedrin IV, 1: "Let a capital offense be tried during the day, but suspend it at night." Once more the Jews violated their own law in order to get rid of Jesus and His teachings.
Fifth Reason In the case of Jesus, the Sanhedrin was illegally convened to try a capital offense on a day before An annual Sabbath,
Notice why: "They shall not judge on the eve of the Sabbath, nor on any festival," says the Mishna, "Sanhedrin" IV, 1. In Wise's Martyrdom of Jesus, page 67, we read the following conclusive evidence: "No court of justice in Israel was permitted to hold sessions on the Sabbath or on any of the seven Biblical Holy Days. In cases of capital crime, no trial could be commenced on Friday or the day previous to any Holy Day, because it was not lawful either to adjourn such cases longer than over night, or to continue them on the Sabbath or Holy Day."
The Jews even violated their law by arresting Jesus on the day before an annual Sabbath. They arrested Him on Wednesday in 31 A.D.; the annual Sabbath was Thursday.
Sixth Reason The trial of Jesus was illegal because it was concluded, in one day.
We read from Jewish law: "A criminal case resulting in the acquittal of the accused may terminate the same day on which the trial began. But if a sentence of death is to be pronounced, it cannot be concluded before the following day" (Mishna, "Sanhedrin" IV, 1). This was to allow sufficient opportunity for any witnesses in support of the accused to present themselves.
The Jews did not want to allow Jesus this opportunity.
Seventh Reason The sentence against Jesus was illegally pronounced by the Sanhedrin because it was founded, upon Jesus' uncorroborated, statement. The Jewish Court pronounced sentence on Jesus with no supporting evidence whatever!
Consider! The only evidence presented by witnesses to the Court was given by two false witnesses. But their testimony was not even used, by the Court in sentencing Jesus to death. Here is what happened.
The Jews obtained two false witnesses who testified that Jesus said, "I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days, I'll build another made without hands" (Mark 14:58).
The Jews used this statement as an indictment against Jesus. But this piece of evidence was not what Jesus said. He never said the words "that is made with hands." Jesus was not referring to the physical temple erected by human hands, but to His body (John 2:19, 21) which would be raised in three days.
Then "the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell as whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God" (Matthew 25:62).
The question the High Priest asked Jesus had nothing to do with the indictment! Jesus was indicted on the false charge that He would destroy the physical temple, and rebuild it in three days' time.
But they condemned Him on another matter altogether. Notice! They asked, "Tell us plainly if you are Christ, the Son of God?"
"Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death."
Do you see how quickly the trial was over? Upon the sole testimony of the One who was being tried, the judge said: "What do we need of any more witnesses? What do you all say?" The jury responded: "He's guilty."
Jesus was indicted on one charge, tried on another, and condemned on His own testimony without any witnesses!
Jesus was not condemned because He said, "Within three days I will build this temple." He was condemned on the false charge of blasphemy!
Here is what Maimonides wrote in his book, Sanhedrin IX, 2, "We have it as a fundamental principle of our jurisprudence, that no one can bring an accusation against himself. Should a man make confession of guilt before a legally constituted tribunal, such confession is not to be used against him unless properly attested by two other witnesses" ("Sanhedrin" IV, 2).
Notice what the high priest said: "What further need have we of witnesses?"
Jesus was condemned on His own testimony, even though His testimony was not proved, blasphemous!
The Jews didn't even examine Him according to the law to see whether His statement was blasphemy! They only demanded: "Are you the Son of God?" And He responded: "You're going to see the son of man seated at the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven..."
Was this blasphemy? Of course not! Jesus did not even refer directly to Himself. He merely said "the son of man." The Jewish Court did not seek to prove who the "son of man" was.
They knew, of course, that Jesus meant Himself. For all through His ministry, they came and purred in front of Him, and asked, "How long dost thou make us to doubt? If you be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not" (John 10:24, 25). What hypocrites they were!
But as soon as Jesus even gave an indirect statement at the trial, they did not doubt whom He meant by the "son of man"!
On this testimony Jesus was condemned.
Even Mr. Radin admits that Jesus' testimony was not blasphemy. On pages 248 and 249 he says: "The 'blasphemy' which the Pentateuch mentions is a literal cursing of God or a direct defiance of him. The only pentateuchal reference makes this clear. It is in Leviticus, chapter 24, and the incident which gave rise to the statute indicates the character of the offense of blasphemy in Jewish law. The half-Egyptian had cursed God — the Israelitish God — as under the circumstances of the quarrel there described he would have been likely enough to do. No such thing could, have been charged, against Jesus by his most inveterate enemies,"
Yet the Jewish religious leaders did this very thing!
Now consider another violation of Jewish law in extracting this testimony from Jesus: "No attempt is ever made to lead a man on to self-incrimination. Moreover, a voluntary confession on his part [on the defendant] is not admitted in evidence, and therefore not competent to convict him, unless a legal number of witnesses minutely corroborate his self-accusation." (Mendelsohn, Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews, page 133.)
Eighth Reason The condemnation of Jesus was illegal because the merits of the defense were not considered.
When they heard Jesus' statement, the high priest shouted: "He blasphemes." But the law in Deuteronomy 13:14 says, "Then shalt thou inquire, and make search, and ask diligently."
The Jewish law in the Mishna says: "The judges shall weigh the matter in the sincerity of their conscience" ("Sanhedrin" IV, 5).
Ninth Reason The condemnation of Jesus BY PART OF THE SANHEDRIN was illegal because those who would, have voted, against the condemnation of Jesus were not there!
Notice what took place at Jesus' trial before dawn according to Mark 14:64 "You have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they ALL condemned him to be guilty of death." It was unanimous. There was no investigation, no examination, to see if He did or did not blaspheme. They just used His testimony against Him without any proof without any witnesses. They all did it immediately, instantaneously, simultaneously, It was mob spirit that condemned Jesus!
Here is what Mendelsohn states of such a procedure: "A simultaneous and, unanimous verdict of guilt rendered, on the day of the trial has the effect of an acquittal."
The verdict against Jesus was simultaneous and unanimous, although the Jewish law required at least one of the Council to serve as a defense counsel
The proper method of voting was to have "the judges each in his tarn absolve or condemn" (Mishna, "Sanhedrin" XV 5). "The members of the Sanhedrin were seated in the form of a semicircle at the extremity of which a secretary was placed, whose business it was to record the votes. One of these secretaries recorded the votes in favor of the accused, the other against him," states the Mishna, "Sanhedrin" IV, 3.
"In ordinary cases the judges voted according to seniority, the oldest commencing; in a capital case, the reverse order was followed. That the younger members of the Sanhedrin should not be influenced by the views or the arguments of their more mature, more experienced colleagues, the junior judge was in these cases always the first to pronounce for or against conviction," says Benny, in Criminal Code of the Jews, pages 73-74.
Furthermore the high priest rent or tore his clothes at the trial (Mark 14:63 and Matthew 26:65).
In Leviticus 10:6 and 21:10 the high priest is forbidden to do so. "And he that is the high priest among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil was poured, and that is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not uncover his head, nor rend his clothes," They tore their outer garment to stir up emotion, to prejudice others.
The high priest should have remained calm so that no mistake in judgment would be made.
In Jesus' trial none of these requirements were followed.
Let Wise's book, Martyrdom of Jews, page 7 4, explain the law on this point: "If none of the judges defend the culprit, i.e., all pronounce him guilty, having no defender in the court, the verdict guilty, was invalid, and the sentence of death could not be executed."
Yet Jesus was executed contrary to the law!
Now notice which members of the Sanhedrin were missing during the trial. Take the case of Joseph of Arimathaea. After Jesus was crucified, we read from Luke 23:50: "And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just" — the word "counsellor" is admitted by all hands to represent a member of the Sanhedrin. "The same had not consented, to the counsel and deed of them" — and neither had Nicodemus.
In Mark's account we learn that ALL those present condemned Jesus instantaneously and unanimously. But since the night meeting was illegal, Joseph of Arimathaea was not present. The Jews wanted to make sure he could not defend Jesus.
Think of the utter lack of any fairness in this trial!
Tenth Reason The sentence against Jesus was pronounced, in a place forbidden by law. After the mob seized Christ, they led Him away, after having been at Annas', and brought Him into Caiaphas, the high priest's, house. The trial of Jesus wasn't held in court! Read Luke 22:54: "And they seized him, and led him away, and, brought him into the high priest's house."
The court building wasn't legally to be opened until after sunrise.
According to Jewish law, "A sentence of death can be pronounced only so long as the Sanhedrin holds its sessions in the appointed, place," says Maimonides, in his book, Section XIV.
The Talmud says: "After leaving the hall Gazith (the court) no sentence of death can be passed upon anyone so-ever," (From Bab. Talmud, "Abodah Tarath" or "Of Idolatry," Ch. 1, fol. 8.)
A sentence of death may be passed only in a legal court, not in some private home, as the Jews were doing.
Eleventh Reason Most Sanhedrin members themselves were legally disqualified to try Jesus.
According to Mendelsohn, Hebrew Maxims and Rules, page 182, "The robe of the unfairly elected judge is to be respected not more than the blanket of the ass."
Some of the judges were elected unfairly. We have the names from the Bible and from Josephus of most of the men who were on the Sanhedrin at the time of Christ. Such men as Caiaphas, Eleazar, Jonathon, Theolphilus, Mathias, Ishmael, Simon, John, Alexander, Ananias and many others were, according to Josephus, recipients of bribes, appointed by members of the family who themselves had no right to sit on it, bought their offices, and were disrespected by their people. There were 12 ex-high priests living at this one time, all part of the Sanhedrin. The Bible expressly requires a man to be high priest throughout his lifetime, at the end of which another took his place. But the Jews permitted high priests to be voted into office year by year. The whole official arrangement — the whole choice of offices — was wrong.
But there was another reason which disqualified almost all Christ's judges. It is this: "Nor must there be on the judicial bench either a relation, or a particular friend, or an enemy of either the accused or the accuser," writes Mendelsohn, page 108.
Many of the judges were Jesus' enemies. They even paid bribe money to betray Him.
In Benny's work, Criminal Code of the Jews, page 37, this surprising statement is found: "Nor under any circumstances was a man known to be at enmity with the accused, person permitted to occupy a position among his judges." Everybody knew that the Sadducees and Pharisees were at outs with Jesus. Yet they were permitted to try Him.
Twelfth Reason The Jewish Court illegally switched the charges against Jesus from blasphemy to sedition and treason before Pilate. Observe how it was done!
The next step in Jesus' trial was to take Him to the legal court for a mock, private trial at sunrise.
"And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council" — now that they had already condemned Him of blasphemy, they are going to take Him to court for a mock trial! — "saying, Art thou the Christ? tell us."
Notice that they are repeating the same questions over again.
"And he [Jesus] said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe: and if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go. Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God."
They had to make this trial look legal. So they all said, "Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth. And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate" (Luke 22:66-71 and 23:1).
This meeting probably didn't last any more than two minutes! Now their trial, which was illegally conducted in the private home of Caiaphas, was now outwardly legalized. But instead of taking Jesus out to be stoned for blasphemy, they switched the charges after the Court was dismissed! They took Him to Pilate, and here is what we read in John 18:28: "Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover." The Judaeans were eating the Passover on an improper day, one day late as they still do today.
"Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee. Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and, judge him according to your law" (John 18:31). Pilate was difficult to convince. He didn't want to be bothered at this hour in the morning. But the Jews replied: "It is not lawful for us to put any man to death." Why wasn't it lawful? Let Luke give the surprising answer:
"And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King" (Luke 23:2).
Notice that the Jews did not charge Jesus with blasphemy. Had they done so, Pilate would have told the Jews not to bother him, but to execute Christ according to their own law by stoning. The Jewish leaders were afraid of their own people! So they trumped up other and new charges against Jesus before Pilate.
Pilate now had reason to be surprised. The only cases for which the Jews could not try a man involved sedition or treason. "Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?"
Jesus said, "Did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew?" He didn't like the Jews, did he? "Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants [the disciples], fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence" — not of this time, not of this world order.
"Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?" (John 18:33-38.) Jesus didn't even answer that.
Pilate Finds Jesus Innocent "And when he had said this, he [Pilate] went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find, in him no fault at all."
When Pilate heard that Jesus was from Galilee, he told the Jews to take Him to Herod (Luke 23:6-7). "And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time" for the Passover. After an interview with Jesus, Herod sent Him back to Pilate. To frighten the Roman governor, the Jews stirred up the mob outside.
Pilate began to see there was trouble brewing. He had a mob on his hands.
This was trial by mob rule! So Pilate took Jesus, terribly scourged Him, let the soldiers plait on Him a crown of thorns and array Him in purple.
Pilate brought Jesus out again and shouted to the mob: "Behold, I bring him forth to you, that you may know that I find no fault in him."
"When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate said unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him."
The Jews answered and said, "We have a law, and by the law he ought to die" — and now for the first time they reveal to Pilate why they condemned Him — "because he made himself the Son of God" (John 19:7). They were getting very angry!
Pilate became frightened. He didn't want to have anything happen for which he would be held responsible by the Roman gods! Upon this, Pilate definitely sought to release him (John 19:12),for there were no witnesses whatever in this trial before Pilate. The Jews had commenced accusing Jesus without proof, without witnesses, without testimony.
Then the ignorant mob cried out: "If you release this man, you're not Caesar's friend." They were threatening Pilate with loss of his office. Matthew 27:24 picks the story up: "When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: SEE YE TO IT."
The ignorant mob of Jews responded: "His blood be on us, and on our children." What they were really saying is, "We accept wholly, fully, the responsibility for His execution, only you execute Him. We don't want to stone Him; we want you to execute Him."
Then Pilate "scourged Jesus, [and] delivered him to be crucified." The purpose of scourging was to prepare a criminal for death.
But notice — Pilate did not even give a formal decision against Jesus Christ. He just turned Him over to the soldiers to do what the Jewish mob wanted.
Jesus Deliberately Crucified Though Found Innocent That is where the trial of Jesus abruptly broke off. No justice here! An innocent man condemned by mob violence! The dastardly act of crucifixion followed. Yet some would still falsely claim, in the face of all this evidence, that Jesus' trial was legal, and His crucifixion justified!
Most of us have never really examined the trial of Jesus before. Just look at this trial. What a mockery of justice it was! Can you imagine what it would be like if you had been on trial, to be spitefully treated as these thrill-seeking soldiers treated Jesus? What consideration, what fairness would have been given you?
All this suffering Jesus endured to pay the penalty of. sin for you! Yet not you only, but to pay the penalty of the sins of the WHOLE WORLD. It is time you personally were made to look at the last hours of Jesus in mortal flesh to see what a miscarriage of justice led up to the crucifixion — what a mockery was made of trial; and to understand the 12 reasons why the conviction of Jesus was an utter fraud — all voluntarily endured by Christ to pay the penalty of your sin in your stead!