November 5

November 5

Jesus’ Jewish Trials — Jesus’ three Jewish trials & Peter’s three denials.

Today’s Readings:
Reading 1: John 18:12-27
Reading 2: Matthew 26:57-75
Reading 3: Luke 22:54-71

As the life of Jesus reaches its early end (or its victorious climax, depending on your understanding) we see how much the Jewish leaders hated Him.

They broke many of their own laws in their haste to do away with this rabbi who threatened their hold on power:

  • they were not to try people during religious feasts, or at night;
  • they had no power to pass a death sentence, and if a death sentence was sought there was to be a night and a day before the sentence was carried out.
  • Jesus was given no representation, and was asked incriminating questions,
  • each member of the court was required to vote individually on the verdict (but Jesus was condemned by general outcry).

The first trial was before Annas (he had been High Priest, his son-in-law was now the High Priest, but he was most likely the “power behind the position”). At this trial the physical abuse that would eventually lead to Jesus’ crucifixion started. Next Jesus was taken to Caiaphas (the current High Priest); he was known to be a wily politician as well as a powerful religious figure, and he too treats Jesus with contempt. Finally Jesus is taken to the Sanhedrin (the High Council), where Jesus does not give direct answers to the accusers, but His responses reflect that they too know the truth about Him. It is not zeal for theological purity that is driving their condemnation – it is a deadly mix of religious pride, lust for power, and fear of the Roman occupiers.

Through this journey of three sham trials, Peter is also making a journey – one of shame and denial. In the heat of the moment, Peter’s humanity fails him and he saves his own skin by denying Jesus, even though he had promised Jesus he would die to save him.

Of course, all of this was part of God’s plan – a plan that seemed so invisible to the participants at the time, but which now is as clear as day!

Despite injustice, God overcomes sin, dies to give us life, and rises again to bring us to Himself. That’s GOOD NEWS!

Have a great day!

Mark.

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