In the dark hours of early Friday morning, with no one to accompany him or represent him legally, Jesus is not taken to a jail cell, which is the normal procedure when someone is arrested. He is taken into the palace of the former high priest, Annas, Caiaphas’ father-in-law. It is also still during the night, which is of significance because it is against the laws of the Jewish nation to try anyone during the nighttime hours. This did not stop Annas, Caiaphas, or any of the chief priests. Actually, this was the plan ever since Judas suggested it.
Most of the thousands of people were still sleeping when this siege occurred, and those who were beginning to wake in the early morning hours before dawn had no idea that this illegal interrogation was happening inside the inner sanctum of the palace, the home of Annas.
The first blow came hard to Jesus. With his hands bound, he could not defend himself. The questions came one after another. Jesus was mostly silent, and when he did answer, he did so with questions for them. Up to this point, the most egregious offense was Jesus disrupting the flow of money in the temple on Monday, thus slowing the income of those of rank. Was this enough to satisfy this scene, especially taking place in secret in the dead of night. How will they explain this to the people in the morning and still keep their respect? They needed more.
Jesus doesn’t speak.
The guards continue beating him.
Even though the laws required that Jesus be tried in the most public place, the temple courts, Jesus was moved for his trial before the Sanhedrin. This is still not a legal move on the part of the high priest, but time is a major factor. People have begun to stir and news of Jesus being arrested has started to weave its way through the streets. A few have even made their way into the courtyard to catch a glimpse of this most unusual scene. Lies and false witnesses are brought forth to testify against Jesus.
Matthew 26:63b-64a “The high priest then said to him, ‘I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.’
‘Yes, it is as you say.’ Jesus replied.”
Those words alone were enough to try him with just cause.
Matthew 26:64b-67 “’But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’
‘He is worthy of death,’ they answered.
Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, ‘Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?’”
They continued beating him for several more hours.
It is daylight now, and the high priest now brings the vote to the floor of the Sanhedrin. He is convicted. Now to get the Romans on board. It will be up to them to do the actual crucifying. The responsibility of the chief priests is only to try and convict. It is up to Rome to kill. The Jews don’t dirty their hands or their consciences with the act of murder. Caiaphas must convince Pilate that Jesus is worthy of this punishment. But he also knows Jesus has broken no Roman laws. He will have to be sly in his proposal.
Jesus is marched through the streets to Pilate’s palace. The Jews dare not enter because it is the Passover, and they will become “unclean” if they enter a Gentile’s home. So Pilate must come out to them. Already, Pilate is annoyed.
Just as Caiaphas predicts, Pilate asks what offense Jesus has broken against Rome.
John 18 records: “If he were not a criminal, would we have handed him over to you?” Caiaphas replies.
Pilate then says, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”
“But we have no right to execute anyone,” the chief priests say.
Upon more questioning, Pilate discovers Jesus is from Galilee. He is not even under Pilate’s jurisdiction. Perfect! He sends him to Herod. Let him deal with this!
Jesus makes another trek through the city streets to the much larger and lavish palace. Its grounds are extensive with pools, fountains, statues, trees and beautiful flowers. They lead Jesus up the steps. They NEED to hand him off quickly!
But Herod is only intrigued by this Jesus. He’s heard of the Nazarene who does miracles and even tries to have Jesus perform one in front of him. When Jesus does not comply, Herod, seeing absolutely no reason to execute another man who has claimed to be holy (he is still haunted by the execution of John the Baptist) sends him back to Pilate. He wants nothing to do with this whole charade!
It is still morning. Jesus is dragged back to Pilate. Pilate wants Jesus to defend himself. It shouldn’t be that hard. He hasn’t really done anything. Pilate asks him if he is a king among the Jews. Jesus answers that his kingdom is not of this world. Pilate is amused! “So you ARE king of the Jews!”
Seeing and stating to the chief priests and rulers that he and Herod see no reason to kill this man, he will order him to be punished and released. Jesus is then stripped, forced to kneel down and tied to a scourging pole. Two Roman soldiers, trained in this very act of torture, take turns in scourging Jesus with leather strips tied to wooden handles. Each strip of leather has small bits of bone and metal pieces of sharp objects. The purpose is to inflict the skin and drag it away from the body. When the skin is gone, these objects go deeper into the tendrils and muscles and pull them apart.
Jesus is being tortured.
In the midst of this, a homemade crown was placed on Jesus’ head, made from a vine of thorns. It was pushed deep into his skull.
After this round of torture, Pilate again tried to release Jesus. But the chief priests and officials yelled, “Crucify! Crucify!”
Pilate then remembered a loop-hole that was not used very often, and since he was not a Jew, he had almost forgotten completely about it! Because it was the Passover, he was allowed to set one prisoner free as a gift to them for their silly little Passover tradition. He will just offer a choice to the people. Surely this will be just a formality; Jesus will be released; And he can go back to his regular duties. To Pilate’s dismay, when he offers them a choice between the murderer, Barabbas, and Jesus, they oddly chose Barabbas.
John 19:12ff, “From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting…”Crucify him! Take him away! Crucify him!”
While this trial began under the cover of night and behind closed doors, it ended in the middle of public view, where all could see, hear and participate. By this time, the people who were amazed by Jesus were either scared or caught up in a mob mentality. There was no one there to defend Jesus.
Jesus was led away to be crucified.
It is mid-morning now, and the entire city is awake and bustling. Thousands of people have heard by now. Those who were there either wanted to see the show put on by the Roman soldiers and feed their curiosity about these horrendous criminals or felt some way pulled to see the kind-hearted man who only seemed to make people around him happier, except the rulers, of course. What did they miss about this man from Galilee?
Jesus carried the crossbeam of the cross through the city streets outside the city walls and up the hill to Golgotha, which could be seen from the city, being beaten the entire way. Upon reaching the hill, the Roman soldiers stretched Jesus’ arms out across the beam and drove large nails through his hands and feet. They lift him to be seen by everyone. It was 9am.
His clothes were divided among the soldiers, and a sign that Pilate wrote was placed above the cross reading, “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
It is Passover. Most of the people are celebrating just a few feet away in the temple courts. They have forgotten about Jesus. Obviously, he isn’t who he claimed to be or he would have struck down the guards when they tried to arrest him. Whoever that man is hanging on the cross up there is an imposter in their eyes. Aren’t they glad they didn’t fall for that! He could have really messed up their Passover traditions and celebrations.
What strikes me as most ironic is that while so many of the Jewish people were using this Passover time to pray to their Father to end their suffering, sweetly and innocently thanking Him for all of their blessings of children, food and family, begging Him to send them the Messiah they have been longing for their entire life and for generations before them, He was right there within their view. Even in their ignorance, His love for them was overwhelming his emotions. He cried out to the Father, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
At Noon, darkness falls across the entire land.
At the ninth hour, Jesus said, “It is finished.” He breathed his last breath.
Few people were there. Jesus’ mother Mary, Mary Magdalene and John. The temple was full of families dancing and praising, and the chief priests and teachers of the law were making their rounds with their noses in the air. They were back in power again with no cause for alarm.
Then the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. That must have been a sight to those in charge. The people no longer needed the high priest to defend the them inside the Holy of Holy’s. At that moment, God the Father was approachable by anyone and everyone who sought Him.
Jesus’ body was taken down and placed in a tomb just a few feet away. Joseph of Arimethea asked if he could place Jesus inside the tomb he owned, which was close by and surrounded by a beautiful garden. It was large and expensive. It was his honor. Mary Magdalene watched on. The stone was rolled against the entrance.
It was done.
Jesus was the pure, unblemished lamb whose blood was poured out for my sins. No longer were those perfect little lambs needed for our salvation. Jesus paid it all.