TWELVE REASONS WHY JESUS' TRIAL WAS ILLEGAL

The  trial  of Jesus Christ was without legal precedent.  Although Pilate found him  innocent, he was convicted  and  executed.  The following are twelve reasons that the  arrest, trial, and conviction of Jesus was illegal.

1. There was no legal basis for Jesus' arrest, because no one  had presented a  formal charge of any crime; he  was simply  taken. Moreover,  those who went with Judas to have Jesus  arrested included the priests and elders—his judges (Lk.22:52)—among whom were the ones who bribed Judas!

2. Jesus was subject to a secret preliminary examination at night (Jn.18:12-14, 19-23). Jewish law permitted only daylight proceedings.

3. The indictment against Jesus was illegal, because  the  judges themselves  brought up the charge without any prior testimony  by witnesses.  The Jewish court (the Sanhedrin) was  not  allowed by law to originate charges.

4. The  court  illegally proceeded to hold its  trial  of  Jesus before sunrise so that no one would be available to testify  on  his behalf.

5. Even though Jewish law did not permit the trial of a  capital offense to begin  on a Friday or on the day  before  an annual festival  day, Jesus was arrested and tried the day  before  the Sabbath, that also happened to be the  first day of the  Festival  of  Unleavened  Bread (Jn.18:28; 19:31).

6. Jesus' trial was concluded in one day, but the law in the Mishna says, "If  a sentence  of  death is to be pronounced, it [a  criminal  charge] cannot be concluded before the following day" (Mishna, "Sanhedrin" IV, 1). This was done to allow sufficient opportunity for any witnesses in support of the accused to present themselves. Jesus' trial was conducted in private and completed in less  than nine hours.

7. Two false witnesses charged Jesus with saying he would destroy the temple made with hands (Mk.14:58), yet he was  condemned  by the court on the charge of blasphemy. And he was condemned  on  his own testimony (Lk.22:67-71). However, according to Jewish law, a person could not be condemned by their testimony.

8. The  merits of Jesus' defense were not considered.  The  high priest did not "inquire, and make search, and  ask  diligently" (Deut.13:14) to see whether Jesus' statement  was blasphemous. The law in the Mishna says, "The judges shall weigh the matter in sincerity of their conscience" (Sanhedrin IV, 5). Instead,  the court pronounced sentence without deliberation!

9. Those who would have voted against condemnation were  not  at Jesus' trial. Joseph of Arimathaea was a member of the court, yet he was not there (Lk.23:50-51). Jesus' opponents had made  sure that only those who hated him would be there.

10. The sentence was pronounced in a place forbidden by law.  The trial took place at the high priest's house (Lk.22:54), and according to  the law, a death sentence could be pronounced  only  in the court's appointed place.

11. Most of the judges were not legally qualified to try  Jesus because most were his enemies. In such cases, Jewish law  required these judges to disqualify themselves in order to ensure that the accused would be tried by impartial judges.

12. The court illegally switched the charges from  blasphemy  to treason when the case went before Pilate. Jesus' opponents wanted him killed but they did not want to do it themselves. Therefore, they charged him with treason  (Lk.23:2)—a crime against Rome—so the Romans would  be responsible for his death. No evidence of treason was ever presented (Jn.18:29-30), and after a brief interview, Pilate determined that Jesus was not guilty of treason (Jn.18:38; 19:4; Matt.27:18).

Understanding the  political implications of the situation, Pilate allowed  the Jews to crucify an innocent man.

The trial of Jesus was a  mockery of justice. However, this  illegal trial did fulfill the prophesies concerning the  condemnation of the Messiah by the covenant people.

By B. L. Cocherell, file b5w29