We are still studying category two of God’s power system – objectivity as the Christian way of life. The object of faith is Jesus Christ and an advancing believer’s object of personal faithfulness is also Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ set the example for us to follow. His faithfulness to God’s plan, purpose and will were unmoved by the circumstances of life that He faced on a daily basis while on earth.
Jesus Christ remained in the love complex throughout His earthly life and exhibited greater impersonal and personal love that any human being has ever done before or since. Not once did Christ commit a mental attitude sin, though He was tempted to do so on many occasions. Jesus Christ was a unique human being Who exhibited grace, courage, thoughtfulness, honor and integrity while being ridiculed by the arrogant and ignorant religious leaders of His day. His mental attitude was stabilized by the Bible doctrine He had stored in His soul from years of consistent study of the Old Testament Scriptures. He reached spiritual maturity before He reached the age of twelve. (Luke 2:42-52)
The ultimate demonstration of Christ’s impersonal love was His attitude throughout the many illegal trials He was subjected to and finally His crucifixion. Though we are sinful and imperfect, we are commanded to follow Christ’s example of impersonal love toward all mankind. Only through residing in God’s power system of love can this be accomplished in the life of a believer. A growing believer establishes inner strength through intake and application of accurate Bible doctrine and separates himself/herself from people, organizations and activities that would fill his/her mind with false concepts, consume too much time and energy, and/or interfere with his/her spiritual advance. In Matthew 10:37-38 Jesus commands us to leave father and mother and take up his/her cross and follow Him. Taking up one’s cross occurs internally in the soul of a believer and means to separate oneself from the evil influences of Satan’s cosmic system. (John 15:9-17)
Following His arrest in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was tried as a common criminal and sentenced to death. During the night and into the next morning a total of six trials were conducted: three by the Jews (religious) and three by the Romans (civil). All six trials of Jesus were illegal.
The Scripture tells us that immediately after His arrest, Jesus was led to Annas for a preliminary examination. Annas was perhaps the most powerful and influential Jew in Jerusalem. He served as the high priest from 7-15 A.D. Even after he was removed from office in 15 A. D. he still retained the title. (Luke 3:2; John 18:19, 22; Acts 4:6 - where he is called the "high priest" even though he was not the actual high priest) So great was his influence over the priestly party that five of his sons, as well as his son-in-law Caiphas and his grandson Matthias, each served as the high priest. Josephus, the Jewish historian said this about Annas:
Annas proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons, who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and he had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly. (The Antiquities of the Jews, XX. ix. 1)
At the time of these events, Annas was a man of great age and experience, and also great wealth. He reaped a huge profit from the Temple sales (Matthew 21:12-13), which transformed the house of God into a den of thieves. Though not holding the actual office or title, he was considered the high priest in the eyes of the people, and on any matter of great importance, he was always the man to consult. We should not be surprised, therefore, to learn that Jesus was led to Annas first. (John 18:13)
By his questions Annas was insinuating that Jesus was gathering around Himself a band of followers (His disciples) with the intention of political insurrection and revolt against Rome. He wanted Jesus to say something that would make Him appear as a person Who was seeking to overthrow Roman rule. He knew the Romans would gladly exterminate anyone guilty of, or even accused of, sedition or treason. In short, he wanted Jesus to say something by which He would incriminate Himself.
Notice our Lord’s masterful response in John 18:20-22. It was as if He were saying, "I decline to be a witness against Myself, and I demand that you produce honest witnesses as the law requires."
Then Annas sent Him bound to his son-in-law, Caiaphas the actual high priest. Thus, "the high priest" mentioned in John 18:19,22 must refer to Annas (the former high priest) and not Caiaphas (the actual high priest).
The trial before Annas was entirely illegal. It was held at night, contrary to Jewish law; no indictment (a formal written statement charging a person with an offense) was prepared; no witnesses were heard; no counsel or defense attorney was provided for the defendant. All of these things were required by Jewish law. Furthermore, Annas was no longer the high priest and could not legally sit as a judge. (Deuteronomy 19:15-21)
Here are some additional reasons this was an illegal trial (John James MaClaren, International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Vol. III, p. 1672):
In other words, everything they did was wrong, unfair, unjust, perverted and contrary to proper legal procedure. They broke every law in the book! They sought by any means possible (even illegal means) to condemn Jesus.
After His trial before Annas, Jesus was taken next to Caiaphas, the high priest. This corrupt priest is also described in John 18:13-14 and John 11:49-51. As to their character and hatred for Jesus, Caiaphas and Annas were of like mind. The Sanhedrin under the leadership of Caiaphas and under the influence of Annas found some false witnesses (Matthew 26:59). The testimony of these witnesses proved to be a great embarrassment to the Jewish leaders. (Mark 14:56) Finally two witnesses came forth with an accusation based on something Jesus had once said (Matthew 26:61)
Caiaphas stood up and asked Jesus, "Answerest thou nothing? What is it which these men witness against thee?" (Mark 14:60). Usually people try to defend themselves even when they know they are wrong. In this case, Jesus was completely blameless and innocent, and He had every right to defend Himself against the unjust charges that were being hurled at Him. We marvel, therefore, at His silence. (Isaiah 53:7)
After the period of silence, the high priest spoke again. (Matthew 26:63) This time Caiaphas placed Jesus "under oath" ("I adjure thee"), the most solemn and the weightiest oath of all, namely, "by the living God." The Lord knew that it was now impossible to remain silent. He could not deny Who He was!
"What you have said is so” was the answer Jesus gave. Jesus also referred to Himself as the Son of Man who shall come again to judge the world (Matthew 26:64; Daniel 7:13-14).
As soon as Jesus had made His great claim, the high priest gave the verdict – guilty of blasphemy. (Matthew 26:65) The Council then pronounced the sentence – death. (Matthew 26:66) The KJV says, "He is guilty of death" but other translations say, "He is worthy of death" or "He is deserving of death," speaking of the punishment they felt He deserved. What was His great crime? He claimed to be the Messiah (God’s anointed King), the Son of God!
"If You are the Son of God as You just claimed, tell me what my name is," as one by one they would slap Him and buffet Him. (Mark 14:65) Christ could have easily told them their names, but again He remained silent and graciously endured this horrible treatment.
This trial was also illegal being held at night, using false witnesses, failure to provide a defense attorney, held during the holy days and violence in the court (all illegal under Jewish law).
The Council (Sanhedrin) gathered together for one more meeting. Jesus was awake all that night, and along with the mockery, abuse, and punishment would be added sheer physical exhaustion and fatigue, which naturally comes from going many hours without sleep.
The Jewish leaders knew that their night trial was illegal, so as soon as it was day they quickly condemned Christ again, as they had done earlier. (Luke 22:66-71) Their decision was to put Jesus to death. (Matthew 27:1) Now all they needed was the permission and help of the Roman authorities to carry it through. It was still the holy days of the Passover and Unleaven Bread, so they could not legally hold a trial or sentence anyone according to Jewish law.