Justice denied; but ultimate mercy achieved!


And when it was day, the Council of elders of the people assembled, both chief priests and scribes, and they led Him away to their council chamber, saying, “If You are the Christ, tell us.” But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask a question, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” And they all said, “Are You the Son of God, then?” And He said to them, “Yes, I am.” And they said, “What further need do we have of testimony? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.” (Luke 22:66-71)

Ron Ritchie, Peninsula Bible Church, “WHAT REALLY HAPPENED AT THE TRIAL OF JESUS?”

The Son of Man, God incarnate, had been awake now for some 24 hours and was weakened by lack of sleep, food, and water and by the beatings. They took him before the Sanhedrin. This seventy-member council was made up of the high priest and former high priests in addition to members of the high priests’ families, elders, scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees. This court was set up under Rome to handle religious cases within the Jewish community that fell under the Law of Moses, in order to off-load as many cases as possible from the Roman courts. As we will see, Jesus was brought before this court on the charge of blaspheming, which referred to acts or words that violated God’s power and majesty, or claiming for oneself attributes that belonged to God alone (see Leviticus 24:11-16). Within the Jewish system of justice under Roman control, this council could pronounce death sentences but had to have them ratified by the Roman governor (see John 18:31), which in this case was Pontius Pilate. Certain rules applied: They were not allowed to meet at night; that is why it was necessary to wait until morning for the arrival of the full court. All charges had to be supported by the evidence of two witnesses. The sentence of death could never be carried out on the day on which it was given; a night had to elapse so that the court might sleep on it and perhaps their verdict might give way to mercy. The whole procedure in the books was designed for mercy, but in Jesus’ case mercy was a lost child in the woods of envy. The Jews broke all the rules to get him in front of Pilate.

“If you are the Messiah, tell us!” they demanded. Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask a question you will not answer.” And rather than answer the question directly, our Lord gave them a clear statement by quoting Psalm 110:1, which prophesied of his resurrection and Ascension, saying, “But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” This statement caused even greater frustration in the members of the court, and based on that statement they all asked, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he replied, “Yes, I am.” And the Sanhedrin heard what they needed to hear in order to charge Jesus with the Jewish crime of blaspheming God, a capital offense. If anyone else had been making that claim, the Sanhedrin would have been right, of course. The problem was, Jesus was not blaspheming because he really was God’s Son (see Luke 3:22; Luke 9:35; John 5:31-37).

The court ignored the procedures designed for justice and mercy, but in doing so, Jesus achieved the purpose for which He came- ultimate mercy for us!