Mt. 26:38-41, “Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with me.’ He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’ Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, ‘What? Could you not watch with Me one hour?
Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’”
After Jesus’ arrest in the garden of Gethsemane, ‘all His disciples forsook Him and fled.’ Only Peter and John followed at a distance.
‘Although Caiaphas was high priest at that time, Annas, the ex-high priest, exercised greater influence and authority,’ and the police officers of the Sanhedrin brought Jesus to Annas’ house - [S.F. Bible.] Hence, Annas ordered the troops to take Jesus to the current high priest, the ringleader of Christ’s accusers.
‘What a bad man this [Caiaphas] was, [that he] governed himself and the Jewish church by rules of policy, in defiance of the rules of equity. What ill usage Christ was to meet with in his court, when His case was adjudged before it was heard, and they were already resolved what to do with Him. His trial was a jest. True or false, the enemies of Christ’s Gospel are resolved to run it down.’ – [M.H. Commentary.]
‘Then the detachment of troops and the captain and the officers of the Jews brought the bound Jesus to Caiaphas the high priest, the chief priests, the scribes and the elders.’ As John ‘was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard, but Peter stood at the door outside.’ While the servants and officers waited outside, ‘they made a fire of coals and warmed themselves. And ‘Peter went and stood with them’ in the warmth of the fire. – [S.F. Bible.]
For the duration of that cold, dark night the council questioned Jesus, blindfolded Him, mocked Him, spat on Him, beat Him, and slapped His face.
Then, eventually, the Jewish Sanhedrin pronounced their preceded sentence.
Ignoring the prophecy in Is. 9:6, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulder, and His Name will be called… Mighty God, Everlasting Father…” they found Jesus guilty of blasphemy because He declared that He is the Son of God.
They sentenced Him to death, just as they had planned.
This time, however, they took His sentence a step further - they fully agreed that the only sentence, which would suit His blasphemous ‘crimes,’ would be Roman crucifixion.
Since only the governor of Judea would be able to crucify Jesus under Roman law, they waited until the morning, when the Judean prefect of Caesar, Pontius Pilate, would be in his chambers, ready to attend his court.
That dreadful morning, in the bright light of God’s new day, the ‘whole multitude’ of riotous Jews, who had forgotten that they had pledged allegiance to their King when He came riding on a donkey, followed the Sanhedrin and their police officers, who brutally shoved the bound and tired, tortured Jesus towards Pilate’s court.
They charged Jesus with the crime of declaring Himself God and King, and brought Him before Pontius Pilate, accusing Him of posing a great danger to the Roman Empire.
The arrogant idolater Pilate would not have allowed the Sanhedrin to engage him in one of their religious disputes. But as they brought before him such a dangerous ‘rebel,’ such a serious ‘threat’ to the Roman Empire, he could not refuse to reside over the case. Furthermore, the deafening upheaval of the ‘whole multitude’ had to catch Pilate’s undivided attention. The murderous anger, in which the priests flung the bleeding Jesus at his feet, spelt a full-scale riot among the Jews, and that must have cautioned Pilate to exercise some patience with them.
Thus Pilate demanded, “What is your charge against this Man?”
“We found this [Nazarene] perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King,” they answered assertively.
Pilate wanted to know one thing: “Are You a King? [Are You a political threat to the Roman Empire, for if You are, I will surely have you crucified.]”
Readers Digest wrote in ‘Jesus And His Times,’ “The question was almost a code for any of the numerous rebels against Rome who had arisen in Palestine – like the many other Pilate was holding for execution at that very time.”
When Jesus did not answer, Pilate was genuinely puzzled by this Prisoner.
He must have wondered how One Man, without followers by His side, without any form of military might, could pose such a serious threat to the mighty throne of Caesar. How a Man, so hated by the angry multitudes that they wanted to tear Him limb from limb, could call Himself a King?
Pilate demanded, maybe leaning slightly towards Jesus on his Judgment seat, “So, are You the king of the Jews?”
We can assume that Jesus looked the prefect of Caesar straight in the eye, then He answered reluctantly through bleeding, swollen lips, “It is as you say.”
Pilate must have thought Jesus a lunatic. A beaten pauper, His face cut and bruised - dressed in the torn, bloodstained clothes of a carpenter, claiming to be a King! Surely, such a ‘nobody’ from an obscure town like Nazareth could not pose any political threat to the mighty Roman Empire!
Therefore Pilate turned decidedly to the Jewish Sanhedrin and declared, “[You are wasting my time,] I find no fault in this Man.” - Lu. 23:3-43.
But becoming ‘more fierce,’ they insisted, “[We tell you He is a political instigator! And you must deal with Him as such!] He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place.”
“Is the Man a Galilean, then?” Pilate asked. Their confirmation undoubtedly caused him to sigh with relief, “Well, then He belongs to Herod’s jurisdiction— and Herod happens to be in Jerusalem at this time! Go, hand Him over to Herod to be judged!”
‘Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because Herod had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him.’
Herod questioned Jesus extensively, but Jesus refused to answer a word, ‘while the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him.’
Herod, no doubt, also thought Jesus was a crazy ‘fool,’ and treated Him as such. Yet Herod, too, was ‘instinctively’ shying away from condemning Jesus.
‘Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Jesus with contempt and mocked Him, stripped Him and