Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.’ Mt. 23:14
Gal. 10-14, ‘For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in ALL things which are written in the book of the law, to do them… ’ Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us, that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through FAITH.’
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SATAN’S PLOT TO NOT MERELY MURDER JESUS, BUT TO HUMILIATE, DETHRONE, AND SLOWLY TORTURE HIM TO DEATH ON A ROMAN CROSS — NOT AS ISRAEL’S KING, BUT AS A POLITICAL REBEL
The devil knew that Jesus Is the Omnipotent, Eternal King and Creator of the entire universe, (Heb. 1:1-14.) This fallen angel could deal with the notion that Jesus came to establish a temporary, physical kingdom here on earth to rule over the old Hebrew nation. But that Jesus came to establish His Eternal, Spiritual, Almighty, Omnipresent Kingdom in the midst of this dark dimension, and draw billions of true believers from every tribe, tongue and nation after Him, was just too much for the devil to bear! (Jn. 18:36; Rev. 5:9.)
As a result, this crafty old snake decided to ‘deal’ with the Son of God once and for all.
What insolence; a fallen creature, once again taking on his Almighty Creator in a full-blown war! (Mt. 4; Jn. 18:36; 1 Jn. 5:19; 2 Cor. 4:3-4; Jn. 14:30; 12:31; Eph. 2:2.)
Jesus could destroy the devil with a single word from His mouth. However, Satan knew Jesus was in the flesh or form of a mere man, (Col. 2:9,) and as God, He would not violate the free will He had entrusted to humanity — not even if His own physical nation tortured His human body and soul beyond what any human could bear, and then meticulously murder Him on a pagan cross.
The devil could do nothing about the Divinity, Omnipotence, and Eternal Reign of Jesus, but he could try to discredit Him in the face of all humanity so that, as he hoped, no one would ever choose to follow Him as their spiritual Savior and King.
Ha-Satan, the adversary of God’s entire creation and His work here on earth, surely heard that Jesus, after He had prayed in Gethsemane, prophesied to His disciples, “Now is the judgment of this world: now the ruler [or the great deceiver and destroyer of all those who choose to follow him,] will be cast out.” The devil’s power over humanity would be broken completely at the cross, (Rev. 12:11)
This almighty declaration of Jesus must have shaken Satan to the core. Probably, he did not realize then that his evil plan would boomerang big time. Later, Paul would explain Satan’s pathetic defeat at the cross. He wrote in Col. 2:13-15, (paraphrased,) “Jesus would wipe out all the requirements of the law that was against fallen, lost, bound, cursed humanity… Disarming principalities and powers; making a public spectacle of them, fully triumphing over them in it,” (Mt. 5:17.) That is why Jesus said, “If I Am lifted up from the earth, [exalted unto heaven by My full atonement in their place,] I will draw all peoples [or true believers from the whole world] to Myself,” (Jn. 12:27-36; 3:15-18)
The way in which kings of antiquity dealt with rival monarchs, was not to merely kill them, but also to torture and then to decapitate the conquered kings. They would then parade the severed heads of the defeated kings through the streets of their conquered cities, openly declaring the defeat of the dead kings, and proclaiming the victory of the new, ruling monarchs. [The military show and fear tactic of parading the severed head of the defeated Zulu king Bambatha in 1906, was how the British Empire, in South Africa, suppressed the Bambatha revolt against the oppressive rule of England in this country.]
Thus, Satan found in his Secret Council of Satanists in charge of the Hebrew Temple the perfect instrument to follow this barbaric custom concerning the Man Jesus Christ. Although they would not be able to physically take Jesus’ head, they could force Pilate to gruesomely torture Him and nail Him to a cross to die a slow, agonizing death in public. Just as the barbaric practice of parading the heads of conquered kings in public, the Roman cross also served the purpose of striking incredible fear into political rivals. Similarly then, Satan would so humiliate and torturously murder Jesus that after this, (he believed,) not a single man would accept Him as God and Christ; thereby crushing Jesus’ establishment of God’s Spiritual Kingdom here on earth.
THE POWER OF THE SANHEDRIN, THE HEBREW ‘RELIGIOUS BEAST FROM THE EARTH’
Readers Digest wrote, “The Sanhedrin, allowed by Pilate to govern the Jews, had their own police force. They ordered arrests on both civil and criminal charges; they even had the authority to put a person to death for a capital offense [such as adultery, sorcery, and blasphemy] but Pilate, the Roman prefect, could intervene as he chose.”
This secret society of Satanists could have stoned Jesus for ‘blasphemy’ and so, they could have ‘legally’ murdered Him themselves. However, the Sanhedrin did not have a ‘mere’ stoning in mind. They saw Jesus as the rival to their false Kingdom-Now theology and a danger to their affluent temple-control, (Jn. 8:44.)
As they had a personal relationship with the devil, he infused their evil hearts with his burning desire to parade Jesus in public. Thus, they were determined to declare Jesus’ humiliation and death on a national level for all Hebrews and Gentiles to witness, thereby ‘crushing’ His credibility as the Hebrew Christ, and supposedly forever extinguishing the spreading flame of His Gospel.
Crucifixion would have served their purpose, but Hebrew law allowed no such atrocity.
The boundlessly cruel Roman law, however, did.
The only way they could achieve that, was to spread the story that Jesus is a religious rebel who declares Himself God over the Hebrew nation — as well as a political rebel, who covets the throne of Emperor Tiberius.
THE ALL-NIGHT TRIAL BEFORE THE SANHEDRIN
After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and overturned the money tables in the temple, the chief priests, who were most probably secret agents under control of the Sanhedrin, tasked to send out spies and other clandestine representatives to establish and execute the Sanhedrin’s deceptions and control over the Hebrew nation, gathered the Sanhedrin and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place [temple positions] and our nation.”
This was the issue that unsettled the Sanhedrin the most. If everyone would believe in Him, their religious rule over the people, temple income, and hope for a political messiah or christ that will rule the nation, would be dashed. They would then forfeit their luxuries and their respected positions. As someone said, “The success of the Gospel is the dread of its adversaries; if souls be saved, they are undone.”
Therefore, the high priest Caiaphas said in his malicious, mystical speech, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient that one man should die for the people.”
The high priest Caiaphas, heading this “den of vipers,” was saying, [paraphrased,] “This Jesus is a very dangerous Man. We have good reason to think that the masses believe He is the Christ. So, if we do not act now, His foreign Gospel and miracles will so override our temple ceremonies and rules, we will have no hope to ever gain control of the multitudes again. Hence, we must agree that He must be put to death. He left us no other choice. It is Him or us, our temple, and the whole Hebrew nation. Better to take the life of one Man, than to let Him ruin our National pride, temple religion, and political hopes, and pull the whole Hebrew nation away from our dear country Israel.”
And so, the Hebrew Sanhedrin found Jesus guilty before they arrested Him.
After Jesus’ arrest in the garden of Gethsemane, “all His disciples forsook Him and fled.” Only Peter and John followed at a distance.
Caiaphas was high priest that year but Annas, the ex-high priest, had more influence over the people because they apparently knew him better. This is why the police officers of the Sanhedrin brought Jesus to Annas’ house. It is certain that Annas was included in the decisions of the Sanhedrin — and he was present and consenting when they reached their “final solution” in dealing with Him.
Annas interrogated Jesus for a while.
He wanted to know who Jesus’ disciples were and exactly what Jesus taught His Hebrew audience.
Jesus calmly replied, “I spoke openly to the world and taught in synagogues and in the temple… and in secret I have said nothing. Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said.”
Then a police officer hit Jesus in His face, saying, “Do You answer the high priest like that?”
Jesus immediately objected to such unlawful abuse of power by asking, “If I have spoken evil, then bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me [contrary to the law]?” - (Jn. 18:23.)
Jesus, the Sinless Lamb of God, went to the cross willingly to pay for the sinful and cursed state of all humanity. No one murdered Jesus; He willingly laid down His life, (Gal. 3:10-14.) So, Jesus expected the temple Sanhedrin themselves to also abide by the Old Testament/Covenant law, by which they governed the Hebrew nation.
Consequently, Annas ordered the troops to take Jesus to the current high priest, the leader of Christ’s accusers. “Then the detachment of troops and the captain and the officers of the Hebrews brought the bound Jesus to Caiaphas the high priest, the chief priests, the scribes and the elders.”
“What a bad man this [Caiaphas] was, [that he] governed himself and the temple council by rules of policy, in defiance of the rules of equity. What ill usage Christ was to meet with in his court, when His case was judged before it was heard, and they were already resolved what to do with Him. His trial was a jest. True or false, the enemies of Christ’s Gospel are resolved to run Him down.” [M.H. Commentary.]
As John was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard, but Peter remained at the door outside the courtyard. While the servants and officers waited outside, “they made a fire of coals and warmed themselves. And Peter went and stood with them in the warmth of the fire,” (Mt. 27:57-75.)
This was where Peter three times denied that he knew Jesus.
“The chief priests, elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death. They found none, but two false witnesses came forward. They said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’
“The high priest arose [with raw indignation as this confirmed that Jesus was touching their revered temple-system, and he demanded from Jesus,] ‘Do you answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?’
“But Jesus kept silent.
“So Caiaphas, [now suddenly standing on the law,] said to Him, ‘I put You under oath by the Living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!’
“Jesus answered, ‘It is as you said. [I Am the Christ.] Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Father, and coming on the clouds of heaven.’
“Are You then the Son of God?” they all demanded, (Lu. 22:70-71.)
“You rightly say that I am,” Jesus answered.
[Paraphrasing.] They flung their arms hopelessly in the air and proclaimed, “What further testimony do we need? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth!”
“Then, [in a great show of disgust,] the high priest tore his clothes, crying, ‘He has spoken blasphemy! [And turning to the council:] What further need do we have of witnesses! Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! What do you think?
“They [all] answered, ‘He is deserving of death.’
“Then, they spat in His face and beat Him: and others [blindfolded Him and] slapped Him, [laughing mockingly,] ‘Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?...’
“And blasphemously they spoke many other things against Him,” (Lu. 22:63-65.)
However, Jesus endured the high priest’s unlawful inquisition and the continuous assaults without protest.
Ignoring the prophecy in Is. 9:6, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given. The [spiritual] government will be upon His shoulder, and His Name will be called… Almighty God, (Rev. 1:7-8,) Everlasting Father…” they found Jesus guilty of blasphemy because He declared that He is the Son of God.
Both the ex-high priest and the current high priest sentenced Jesus to death, just as they had planned.
This time, however, they took His sentence a step further - they verbally agreed that the only sentence, which would suit His ‘blasphemous crimes,’ would be Roman crucifixion.
Since only the governor of Judea would be able to crucify Jesus under Roman law, they waited until the morning, when the Judean Prefect of Caesar, Pontius Pilate, would be in his chambers, ready to attend his court.