THE UNLAWFUL ACTS
In the following chapters, we will consider each of the following unlawful acts which were illegally committed against Christ:
Broken Law I
- The arrest was without authority of law, and therefore illegal.
- Annas, before whom Jesus was first taken for examination, was a mere politician without jurisdiction.
- The Sanhedrin was unlawfully assembled because Hebrew laws prohibited such a meeting at night, or during the Feast of the Passover.
- Jesus was first accused of blasphemy, but when He was before Pilate, the charge was changed to sedition, without notice to the Prisoner, or anyone.
- Jesus was denied an opportunity to obtain His witnesses, who would have testified on His behalf.
- No person could be found guilty upon his own confession of guilt alone.
- At least two witnesses were required to testify in support of a charge against the accused; and their testimony had to agree as to all the material facts involved.
- It was not lawful to conclude the trial in a single day.
- The Roman conquerors had long before taken from the Sanhedrin its authority to sentence anyone to death.
- A unanimous verdict of guilty rendered on the same day by the Jewish court had the effect of an acquittal.
- The members of the Sanhedrin were disqualified to try Jesus because of enmity toward the accused.
- The Sanhedrin ignored the merits of Jesus' defense.
- Pilate, having stated four times that Jesus was not guilty of any wrong, should have released Him instead of delivering Him to the mob for crucifixion.
- The condemnation of Christ, resulting in His death, was permitted without a lawful judgment of conviction
- The Sanhedrin, though learned in the law, ignored every existing Hebrew law that protected the innocent.
NO AUTHORITY FOR ARREST
Then the band and the captain and officers
of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him. (John 18:12)
Jesus had just left the garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem shortly after midnight when His arrest was effected. They had no warrant, nor authority of arrest whatsoever. The seizing of Christ was not done, as was customary, by two or three representatives of justice. Matthew tells us:
...Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. (Matthew 26:47)
The "great multitude" consisted of a large group of Roman soldiers with their drawn swords and staves, plus several hundred members of the Levitical police, as well as members of the Sanhedrin, carrying lanterns and torches—confirming that the arrest was made at night.
They evidently thought they might have to search for Jesus among the orchards of the Garden of Gethsemane, where Judas had told them He probably would be found, in prayer to His Heavenly Father.
Little did it matter to the arch traitor that he was guiding the crowd to the hallowed sanctuary of the Son of God. Nor was he the least concerned over his profaning the Passover, which was the Jew's most sacred Season of the year. Judas had to earn his fee—had to seal the cheap bargain which he had made—in order to retain the filthy pieces of silver. Apparently, nothing else mattered to him.
Why the large group of soldiers, the captain, officers and others, with drawn swords and staves? Were they expecting to engage in battle? Or did they think that Christ would resist their efforts and flee?
After having made the arrest, they did not even tell Christ why He had been apprehended. This was because there had not been proffered any charge against Jesus before the Jewish court.
A warrant, or a written authority, was required before making a lawful arrest. When Saul of Tarsus was on his way to Damascus to arrest any Christians he might find, that he might persecute them, he had to first get his authority for their arrest from the high priest:
And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way (followers of Christ), whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. (Acts 9:1-2)
We note this again in Scripture:
...I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, (Acts 26:12)
Before Saul could arrest those early Christians, he had to obtain the "authority and commission" from the high priest.
Why then was no authority for the arrest of Jesus issued by the high priest? Simply because none could be lawfully issued until a criminal charge had been made before the Sanhedrin.
Had Christ been seen committing a crime, the arrest could have been made without a warrant, but He was certainly no law-violator. He was merely leaving the Garden of Gethsemane when the Roman soldiers took Him and bound Him like a common criminal.
Jesus was not surprised by his apprehension. Several days before, He had prophesied to His disciples that they would leave Him all alone at the time of His arrest. So instead of resisting, Jesus quietly said to His disciples:
...behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. (Matthew 26:45)
Then, like the brave Character He was, we see Him standing erect, His countenance aglow in the moonlight as He asked: "Whom seek ye?" (John 18:4) When they replied, "Jesus of Nazareth," He said, "I am he." (See John 18:5)
As Jesus identified Himself, everyone fell to the ground. After a moment, regaining composure, they arose and Jesus once more asked them the same question: "Whom seek ye?" They said" "Jesus of Nazareth." Then the Master said:
I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way; (See John 18:7-8)
Being unafraid, Christ was willing to bear His cross alone. Hence He requested that His disciples not be apprehended. What happened to those disciples? "And they all forsook him, and fled." (Mark 14:50)
As we get a mental picture of the hasty flight of those eleven disciples—the men who had been so intimately associated with Jesus for the three years of His ministry—we are reminded of a present-day truth: crowds will follow, like blind men, their hero in his days of great triumph, but will leave him at the first sign of adversity.
If these men had intended to conduct a legal trial, a specific charge would have been made against Christ, and a warrant for His arrest would have been issued.
But it was more of a capture than an arrest. They seized Him for the sole purpose of doing away with Him. It was the beginning of a dastardly scheme, born of a cowardly conspiracy, entered into by corrupt and evil men.
Indeed, the condemnation of Christ was agreed to long before His apprehension by the mob. Therefore, the illegal arrest was the least of the many sins committed by those who were referred to by Jesus as "sinful men." Truly He placed them in the right category.
Who killed Jesus...
Here's an unforgettable account of the most horrible crime ever committed. As the dramatic story unfolds, complete with illustrations by Jack Chick, you will learn the devilish role that several very deceived men played in the illegal trial of Jesus.
You will be amazed as these wicked men, each with their own agenda, broke one Jewish law after another to further their own cause, yet ended up fulfilling countless scriptural prophecies.
Your faith will be strengthened and your love for our Saviour will grow as you watch Him endure the lies, the evil scheming, plus the physical torture He endured for us.
Did you know that the Sanhedrin broke the Jewish law 18 times during the illegal trial of Jesus? Attorney Earle Wingo approaches the crucifixion like a trial lawyer, showing one after another the ways in which Jesus was illegally tried. Wingo is a good writer, with an emotional and persuasive style.
You will learn:
- Who the Jewish leaders were, and why they knew exactly what they were doing.
- How many Jewish laws were broken in order to entrap Jesus.
- How Jesus was arrested without being charged.
- That Jewish law forbade nighttime trials, and one-day trials.
- Why the eventual charge of blasphemy wasn't enough to put Jesus to death.
- How the charges against Jesus were changed to get the Romans to kill Him.