Let us now follow the chronology and concentrate on the next event, the arrest of the Messiah. Here, the situation becomes so messy, that Jesus had to again intervene to make sure He would be crucified at the right time and place. The fulfillment of this prophecy was laid entirely in His hands.
Let us first sum up Yeshua’s trajectory on the night of the 14th of Nisan. After the battle of Gethsemane, Yeshua is then brought to the home of Annas the High Priest for the first part of the religious trial (John 18:12-14). Then for the second part of the religious trial, He is brought to another High Priest’s home, Caiaphas. Then, at sunrise, He is brought to the Sanhedrin, on the south side of the Temple. Then He is brought to Pilate for the civil trial.
But their plan did not work, for Pilate did not have enough facts to condemn Him. Having remembered that Herod was in town, he sent Yeshua to him, with the hopes that Herod would end the matter. But Herod too did not find anything wrong and sends Him back to Pilate. Pilate, being pressured and coerced by the priests, then sends Yeshua to the Tav. All of this happened within a few hours and with a multitude of laws, even their own rabbinic laws, having been broken. They dragged Yeshua all over Jerusalem for they themselves were quite lost.
And it should be noted that after the arrest and throughout the entire account, Yeshua spoke very little. Whatever words He did pronounce were for the purpose of dying at the right time and place. That is the most touching part of the whole trial account. Let us now see how it happened. It is my prayer that after this, we will again all fall in love with Yeshua, realizing all the more what He has done for us. Let us begin at Mark 14:53, They led Jesus away to the high priest; and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes *gathered together.
First, how many High Priests were there at the time? The Gospels speak of Caiaphas the High Priest, but Acts (4:6), says that it is Annas who is the High Priest,
Right away we can see how chaotic this religious system was, for the Torah prescribed one High Priest for the duration of his life. Here we find two of them but there were many more. Annas was the High Priest, who was replaced by his son in law Caiaphas. Later, five of his sons and grandsons became High Priests for a short period of time.
Why was this? The Romans decided who would be the High Priest and so they would change them at will and these priests also paid them large sums of money to secure their position. Confusing, is it not? Remove God and things will become puzzling. And so, when it becomes this complex, just think of Yeshua and how He has all matters in His hands.
Now the first two parts of the trial were held in the homes of these two High Priests, but this was another transgression against their own laws. According to the Mishnah, their written Oral Law, any trial, especially one which pertains to capital punishment, should be held in the chamber of the Hewn Stone, that is in the Sanhedrin situated on the south side of the Temple. (M. Sanhedrin 11:2) No trial should take place in one’s home.
So, they brought Yeshua to Annas’ home, then to Caiaphas’ home and then, by vs.55, the sun had risen and we are brought to the Sanhedrin. This is when they tried to indict Yeshua but were very unsuccessful. See the account in vs.55-59.
Now the chief priests and the whole council kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, and they were not finding any. For many were giving false testimony against Him, but their testimony was not consistent. In fact, some stood up and began to say, ‘We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.’ Not even in this respect was their testimony consistent.
Reading these last words, this should have been deemed a mistrial for there were no witnesses and so it was a miscarriage of justice. But justice was not their concern, for they had already decided to put Him to death even before the trial begun. And they continued to break many of their own laws, and that of the Torah. At this point, one wonders whose trial it was, theirs or the Messiah’s. For their own transgressions were accumulating against them, verse after verse.
First, there were no witnesses. See how the Law of Moses and their own laws put so much emphasis on having witnesses. Deut.17:6 says, “Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness”. But they did not even have one witness. The first part of this trial ends by saying in vs.59, ‘Not even in this respect was their testimony consistent’.
However, it is interesting that the words of the false witnesses are nevertheless reported to us, for what he says, surely unwittingly, is something quite important. Yeshua said in John 2:19, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”, but this witness adds, I will build another made without hands. Where did he get that from? Why made without hands?
This expression was well known and used to designate a divine intervention. We also see this used by the Essenes, writers of the Dead Sea Scrolls. They too expected the next Temple to be built by God Himself using a similar expression (Qumran 4Q174).
And this phrase must have been taken from that one prophet who spoke of the time and death of the Messiah, that is the prophet Daniel. In his prophecy of Daniel chapter 2, the prophet speaks of 4 kingdoms rising and then he sees a Stone, which was cut out without hands; we see the same expression here. This, Daniel says twice (Daniel 2:34, 45) and this Stone who is from God, and Who destroys these 4 kingdoms, is the Messiah. The Stone without hands represents the Son of Man in Daniel, a title that Yeshua is about to give Himself at this trial.
How ironic that the false witness pronounces the very words which would confirm Yeshua’s identity as the Stone, the One Who will rule the earth one day soon. His words could be compared to the words of Balam who, wanting to curse Israel, ended up giving a major prophecy concerning the coming of the Messiah, one of who come from this nation of Israel, the very nation he wanted to curse.