Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.’ Mt. 23:14
Gal. 10-14, ‘For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in ALL things which are written in the book of the law, to do them… ’ Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us, that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through FAITH.’
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SATAN’S PLOT TO NOT MERELY KILL JESUS, BUT TO HUMILIATE, DETHRONE, AND SLOWLY TORTURE HIM TO DEATH
The devil knew that Jesus is the Omnipotent, Eternal King and Creator of the entire universe, (Heb. 1:14.) This fallen angel could deal with the notion that Jesus came to establish a temporary kingdom here on earth to rule over the old Hebrew nation. But the fact that Jesus came to establish His Eternal, Spiritual, Almighty, Omnipresent Kingdom reign in the midst of this dark dimension, and draw billions of true believers from every tribe, tongue and nation after Him, was just too much for him to bear! (Jn. 18:36; Rev. 5:9.)
As a result, this crafty old snake decided to ‘deal’ with the Son of God once and for all.
What insolence; a fallen creature, once again taking on his Almighty Creator in a full-blown war! (Jn. 18:36; 1 Jn. 5:19; 2 Cor. 4:3-4; Jn. 14:30; 12:31; Eph. 2:2.)
Jesus could destroy the devil with a single word from His mouth. However, Satan knew Jesus was in the flesh or form of a mere man, (Col. 2:9,) and He would not violate the free will He had entrusted to humanity — not even if they tortured Him beyond what any human could bear, and then meticulously murder Him on a cross.
The devil could do nothing about the Divinity, Omnipotence and Eternal Reign of Jesus, but he could try to discredit Him in the face of all humanity so that, as he hoped, no one would ever choose to follow Him as their spiritual Savior and King.
Ha-Satan, the adversary of God’s entire creation and His work here on earth, surely heard that Jesus, after He had prayed in Gethsemane, prophesied to His disciples, “Now is the judgment of this world: now the ruler [or great deceiver and destroyer of all those who choose to follow him,] will be cast out. [His power over humanity will be broken completely, (Rev. 12:11) Col. 2:13-15, Jesus would wipe out the requirements of the law that was against fallen humanity… Disarming principalities and powers; making a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it, (Mt. 5:17.) That is why Jesus said,] I, if I Am lifted up from the earth, [exalted unto heaven by My full atonement in their place,] will draw all peoples [from the whole world] to Myself,” (Jn. 12:27-36.)
The way in which kings of antiquity dealt with rival monarchs, was not to merely kill them, but also to torture and then decapitate the conquered king. They would then parade the severed head of the defeated king through the streets of his conquered cities, openly declaring the defeat of the dead king, and proclaiming the victory of the new ruling monarch. [The military show and fear tactic of parading the severed head of the defeated Zulu king Bambatha in 1906, is how the British Empire, in South Africa, suppressed the Bambatha revolt against their oppressive rule.]
So, Satan found in the Council or Sanhedrin of the old Hebrew Temple the perfect instrument to follow this barbaric custom. Although they would not be able to take Jesus’ head, they could force Pontius Pilate to gruesomely torture Him and nail Him to a cross to die a slow, agonizing death in public. Just as the barbaric practice of parading the heads of conquered kings in public, the Roman cross also served the purpose of striking incredible fear into political rivals. Similarly then, Satan would so humiliate and torturously murder Jesus that after this, not a single man would accept Him as God and Christ, thereby crushing His establishment of God’s Spiritual Kingdom here on earth.
THE POWER OF THE JEWISH BEAST FROM THE EARTH
Readers Digest wrote, “The Sanhedrin, allowed by Pilate to govern the Jews, had their own police force. They ordered arrests on both civil and criminal charges; they even had the authority to put a person to death for a capital offense, but Pilate, the Roman prefect, could intervene as he chose.”
The Jewish Sanhedrin could have stoned Jesus for blasphemy and so, they could have ‘legally’ murdered Him. However, under the forceful influence of the devil, the Sanhedrin did not have a ‘mere’ stoning in mind. They saw Jesus as the rival to their Kingdom-Now theology, so they wanted to discredit Him forever, (Jn. 8:44.)
As a result, Satan infused their evil hearts with his desire to parade Jesus in public. They were determined to declare Jesus’ humiliation and death on a national level, thereby ‘crushing’ His credibility as the Hebrew Christ and extinguishing the flame of His Gospel forever.
Crucifixion would have served their purpose, but Hebrew law allowed no such atrocity.
Roman law, however, did.
THE ALL-NIGHT TRIAL
After that day when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the temple council (the Pharisaical Sanhedrin) and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.”’ “This was the thing they were afraid of, that everyone would believe on Him, and then all their measures were broken. The success of the Gospel is the dread of its adversaries; if souls be saved, they are undone.” - [Matthew Henry Commentary.]
The Sanhedrin feared that, if the Hebrews were to live by faith in their Savior, without the norms and forms of the physical temple, as this Man teaches, the Romans would deem the luxuries of their religion redundant. Then “the Romans will come and take away their idol, the temple, and their preferments in the temple, their places of power and trust. [Therefore the high priest] Caiaphas said in his malicious, mystical speech, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient that one man should die for the people.”
The high priest Caiaphas was saying, ‘Agreed, we have reason to think that they strongly suspect Jesus to be indeed the Christ; but His Gospel is so contrary to our darling traditions and secular interest, and His design does so thwart our notions of the Savior’s kingdom, that we resolve, that He be put to death.’ Caiaphas did not say, ‘Let Him be silenced, imprisoned, banished,’ no – he said, ‘be Who He will, One as dangerous as He must die.’ - [Matthew Henry Commentary.]
‘What is the life of one Man, if we are to save the religion and traditions of an entire nation?’ Caiaphas actually asked. ‘In fact, the death of One will be a great blessing to all, and in the end it will save the entire Hebrew nation from religious and national ruin.’
And so, the Sanhedrin found Jesus guilty before He was arrested.
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, being more familiar to the people, exercised greater influence and authority.” Thus, the police officers of the Sanhedrin brought Jesus to Annas’ house.” - [Spirit Filled Bible.]
Annas interrogated Jesus for a while. He wanted to know who Jesus’ disciples were and exactly what Jesus taught the Hebrew world.
Jesus replied, “I spoke openly to the world and taught in synagogues and in the temple… and in secret I have said nothing. Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said.”
Then an officer hit Jesus in His face, saying, “Do You answer the high priest like that?”
Jesus objected, “If I have spoken evil, then bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me [contrary to the law]?” - (Jn. 18:23.)
Jesus Christ, the Sinless Lamb of God, went to the cross willingly to pay for the sinful and cursed state of all humanity. No one killed Jesus; He willingly laid down His life in the place of all of lost and cursed humanity, (Gal. 3:10-14.)
So, Annas ordered the troops to take Jesus to the current high priest, the ringleader of Christ’s accusers.
“Then the detachment of troops and the captain and the officers of the Hebrews brought the bound Jesus to Caiaphas the high priest, the chief priests, the scribes and the elders.”
“What a bad man this [Caiaphas] was, [that he] governed himself and the temple council 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 Him down.” – [M.H. Commentary.]
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.”
This was where Peter three times denied knowing Jesus. (Mt. 27:57-75.)
“The chief priests, elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death. They found none, but two false witnesses came forward. They said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’
“The high priest arose [and demanded from Jesus,] ‘Do you answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?’
“But Jesus kept silent.
“So Caiaphas said to Him, ‘I put You under oath by the Living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!’
“Jesus answered, ‘It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, thereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Father, and coming on the clouds of heaven.’
“’Are You then the Son of God?’ they all demanded, (Lu. 22:70-71.)
“’You rightly say that I am,’ Jesus answered.
“’What further testimony do we need? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.’
“Then the high priest tore his clothes, crying, ‘He has spoken blasphemy! [And turning to the council:] What further need do we have of witnesses! Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! What do you think?
“They [all] answered, ‘He is deserving of death.’
“Then, they spat in His face and beat Him: and others [blindfolded Him and] slapped Him, [laughing,] ‘Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?...”
“And blasphemously they spoke many other things against Him,” (Lu. 22:63-65.)
However, Jesus endured the high priest’s unlawful inquisition without protest.
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.
Both the ex-high priest and the current high priest sentenced Jesus 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.