At this season of the year, when we are celebrating the crudixion and resur rection of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and His gift of the Spirit to His disciples, it might be well to carefully review the events on which our fai th is based. The penalty of sin is death; and we are saved from this penalty because Jesus Christ could pay it for us, since He had no sin of His own to pay for, but died only for us. The JEWS claim that He was a criminal, cruci fied in punishment of HIs own crime. Yet the record shows that He was tried in t hree courts and found innocent under the law in all three! Let's look at the record.
JEWISH law never allowed trial by a single judge. A "Court of Three" judges was the smallest, corresponding to our modern Justice of the Peace, and could try only very minor cases. But every town of at least 120 families ha d a Minor Sanhedrin, composed of 23 judges. This Minor Sanhedrin had general jurisdiction of all serious civil and criminal cases, and also serv ed as a Tax Board and governed schools, highways, sanitary regulations, etc. As the largest city in Palestine, Jerusalem had two Minor Sanhedrins.
Jerusalem also had the only Great Sanhedrin, a court of general civil and c riminal jurisdiction. It was composed of 71 judges, there being 23 in the Chamber of Priests, 23 in the Chamber of Scribes, 23 in the Chamber of Elde rs, and 2 presiding officers. Lawful court hours began after the morning sacrifice, and ended before the evening sacrifice, and no part of any crimi nal case could be heard outside these hours.
After hearing the evidence, each judge gave a brief statement of his view o f the case, those judges favoring acquittal speaking first. After the argume nts came the voiting, at which the youngest judges must vote first, so they wou ld be voting their own honest views, and not be overawed by their elders. If the accused was acquitted, he was released at once. Bible and Jewish law to ok great care to avoid convicting an innocent man. If the accused was found
guilty, the trial was recessed until the next afternoon, so the judges coul d reconsider the case overnight; and on the second afternoon, each judge mus t vote and give his reason for it again. If his reason differed from those he had used on the first day, his vote could not be counted for conviction. On e who had first voted for conviction could change his vote; but one who had firs t voted for acquittal could not change. At least 37 votes were required to c onvict, but conviction by unanimous vote on 1st ballot was legally considered to be an acquital because it was felt such a conviction must be the result of passion and prejudice. If the second day's hearing also resulted in convict ion, sentence was deferred until sunset, and any new arguments could be considered, and if need be, a new vote taken. Because of this requirement o f a second day's session, no trial for a capital crime could be lawfully beg un on the day before a sabbath or any holy day.
Under both Bible and Jewish law, no man could be condemned on the testimony of only one witness; and each of the two or more witnesses must be able to testify to enough facts to prove the crime, it could not be pieced together out of many fragments. Only one witness was allowed in the courtroo m at any time, so none could hear what the others said; and if the prosecutio n's witnesses disagreed, all were rejected, as no man's life could be taken on such uncertain evidence.
When a condemned Defendant was led away to execution, a herald with a crims on banner led the procession, shouting out the name of the accused and the charge against him, and calling upon anyone who knew any facts concerni ng the case to speak up. If anyone did so, or if any judge thought of any new argument in favor of the accused, they brought the Defendant back and r econsidered his case.
The JEWISH TALMUD also forbade conviction of anyone of a crime punishable b y death or flogging unless it was proved that, just before the commission of the crime, he had been warned tht what he was about to do was a crime: the only exceptions to this were the crimes of burglary, perjury, and leading others to worship idols.
ANTI-SEMITIC JEWS MURDERED JESUS CHRIST!
The record shows that Jesus Christ was NOT tried by a JEWISH COURT compete nt to convict Him. John 18:19-24 shows that He was first tried before Caiaphas, the High Priest, sitting as a single judge, at a private e xamination, without any witnesses, a little after midnight. This was illegal in every respect. His next hearing was before the High Priest and the Great Sanhedri n; but Matthew 26:73-75 shows that this was before 3 A.M.; also, it was the day before a Holy Day, the Passover, so no capital trial could be lawfully begun on that day, even at a proper hour. These proceedings were therefore totally unlawful and void. The mock trial they held was equally corrupt. Ma rk 14:55-59 shows that the false witnesses they brought against Him could no t agree on their perjured stories, so there was no lawful evidence against Hi m. Even the High Priest recognized this, so they abandoned their first charg e, which was in the nature of sedition that Jesus Christ had said that He wo uld destroy the Temple, then rebuild it. They tried again, craftily, without specifying any charge against Him, by asking Him if he was really the Chris t, the Son of God, to which He truly said "I am". They then declared that th is was blasphemy, and said "What need have we of witnesses?" Under their own l aw, even if such a statement had been blasphemy, they could not convict without the testimony of two witnesses, either with or without a co nfession in open court.
But it was not blasphemy, for under their own law blasphemy consisted only in using vile language toward God which not even their worst false witness had accused Him of. And every Israelite could say tht he was a son of God, for Deuteronomy 14:1 says "Ye are all the children of the LORD your God", and Psalm 82 says "All of you are children of the Most High." So this charge, also, was false; and while they condemned Him on it, they abandoned it as false and unproved when they brought Him before the Roman g overnor, Pontius Pilate.
* While the Great Sanhedrin met again just after midnight, both Matthew 27: 1 and Mark 15:1 show that this was not to hold a trial, but only a strategy meeting, to plan how to get the Romans to commit their murder for them.
Early in the morning, soon after dawn, they brought Jesus Christ before the Roman governor with their accusations. Again, this was just a judicial lync hing. Remember that, even if the trial had been lawfully begun after this time, a conviction would require that it recess until the afternoon on the next day for reconsideration; and if the second day's trial resulted in conviction, sent ence would be deferred until sunset, so that the third day would be the shor test time in which a legal execution could be held; yet they were rushing their judicial murder through on the first day. The record shows that after the JE WS brought Jesus Christ before Pontius Pilate, Pilate held the Roman trial, th en sent Jesus Christ away to another part of the city where Herod was stayin g, Herod held another trial, then Herod sent Him back to Pontius Pilate, who a gain tried to reason with the JEWS, and finally gave up and allowed Christ t o be crucified and all this was done so early that he crucifixion itself oc curred about noon. The Hebrew day began at sunset; the night was divided int o four "watches" of 3 hours each; the day, which began about 6 A.M. at that t ime of year, was divided into 12 hours, beginning at sunrise. John 19:14 shows that the final hearing before Pilate ended a little before "the sixth hour" which would be noon; while Luke 23:44 shows that the actual crucifixi on occurred soon after noon.
So, to sum up the JEWISH trials, we see that He was tried by a merely prete nded court, a group of men who had no legal powe to sit as a court in the darkness of night; no legal evidence against Him was heard; He was given no opportunity to prepare a defense or bring in witnesses in His defense; He was convicted and condemned to death on a false charge of "blasphemy" when His judges well knew that His words, whether true or false, were not blasphemy under their law; and He was murdered the same day, without the re consideration of the case which the law required. Furthermore, so long as they pretended to be a court, they were bound by the law: so when they conv icted Him by unanimous vote on the first ballot, their own law gave this the legal effect of a verdict of NOT guilty. Noone can truthfully say that any JEWISH trial proved Jesus Christ guilty of any crime or sin whatsoever.
Next time, I will show you that the ROMAN trial likewise proved that Jesus Christ had no crime or sin of HIs own to answer for; so He died for OUR sins, to win salvation for sinners and redemption for His people, ISRAEL, NOT JEWS.
Rev. Bertrand L. Comparet, A.B., J.D.