The Unjust Trial of the Just Son of God

Bible Book: Mark  14 : 53-65
Subject: Jesus, Trial of; Easter

History has had its fair share of famous trials. From June through September of 1692, 19 men and women were put on trial and convicted of witchcraft in Salem Massachusetts in what is now known as the Salem Witch Trials. In 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee, the Scopes Monkey Trial took place, in which the law was tested that no public school teacher could teach anything in a public classroom that contradicted the Bible’s account of creation. From 1945 to 1949 in Nuremberg, Germany, the world was witness to the Nuremburg Trials in which the Nazis were tried for their crimes committed in the Holocaust. And of course, who can forget the 1995 trial of O.J. Simpson, where the world learned that it is possible to get away with murder in a high court of law. Famous trials have changed the history of nations, and they have brought about changes that have had a great impact on society. But this morning, I want us to go way back to a trial that changed the history of the entire world, the trial of all trials, a wicked and illegal trial, a trial that highlights the depravity and guilt of the accusers rather than the defendant—the trial of the Lord Jesus Christ. Turn with me in your Bible to the gospel of Mark, chapter fourteen and verse 53. From this passage, I want to preach on the subject, “The Unjust Trial of the Just Son of God.”

Having already said a word about the Lord’s travail, and having already said a word about the Lord’s traitor, let’s now consider a word about the Lord’s trial. In this passage, following His arrest in the garden of Gethsemane, Christ is taken before the High Priest and the chief priests of Israel to be put in trial. I’m telling you, when our Lord Jesus was put on trial, it was nothing more than sinful men attempting to prosecute a holy and righteous God. We witness the creature attempting to try the Creator. In truth, it wasn’t Christ who was on trial; it was His accusers who were on trial! Christ’s own righteous character through the whole ordeal only exposed the wickedness of His accusers. The only truly innocent Person to ever walk the face of the earth was condemned by guilty, bloodthirsty men. The trial that resulted in Jesus Christ being nailed to a cross provides a clear example of unjust judgment and resulted in the darkest day ever in the history of the practice of law. He was declared guilty, though guilty of crimes He had never committed. However, what seemed a cruel tragedy was in all actuality a courageous triumph. The events that led up to our Lord’s death were predetermined of God. From this perspective, the trial was a blessing. Instead of Jesus playing into the hands of His enemies, His enemies were playing into His hands! And so, from the passage before us, I want to point out three specific truths about our Lord’s trial.

I. The Crime of Our Lord’s Trial

The entire trial of our Lord was a complete mockery of the justice system. As soon as Jesus was arrested, He was put on trial the same night. The charges against Him were trumped, and the witnesses who testified against Him were bribed. By Biblical standards, the standards that were supposed to govern justice in Israel, the trial was completely illegal. Notice what the Bible says in verse 53: “And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes.” Because of all the dishonesty and injustice associated with Christ’s trial, the court could appropriately be called a ‘kangaroo court,’ which is defined as being a mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted with judgment being made outside of legal procedure. As I look upon the scene of our Lord’s trial, the words of Habakkuk 1:4 come to my mind: “Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.” The Lord’s trial was a crime in for at least three reasons:

A. It Commenced With an Illegal Person

As soon as Jesus was arrested in the garden, the Bible says that He was taken to be put on trial before the High Priest, who at that time was Caiphas. The Apostle John sheds some more light on this account. According to John’s gospel, the arresting officers took Jesus before Annas first, who was the former High Priest and the father-in-law of Caiphas. According to Jewish law, this was illegal, because no former high priest had the authority to try a man, as did Annas. However, Annas was one of the most powerful men in Jerusalem. He had served as High Priest for 20 years, and for all practical purposes, he was even in control of the office after he left. Five of his sons had succeeded him as High Priest, and now his son-in-law Caiphas had the title. Talk about a family run religion! And so like a puppet master, Annas controlled the strings and puppets of the priesthood until the end of his life. As the real power behind the office, he also kept the title unofficially, and several times in the New Testament, he is referred to as being the high priest. I find it very interesting that history tells us that Annas and his family had managed to turn the priesthood into a very lucrative business. They collected fees and commissions from those who sold sacrificial animals on the temple grounds. John Macarthur pointed out that the entire business was crooked, with the money changers and sellers being known for their dishonest greed. Because Annas controlled a monopoly on the whole enterprise, the merchants charged ridiculous rates—especially during the Passover. Annas and his family were making a killing off of the sacrifices. And so it becomes easy to see that Annas had literally turned the temple into a den of thieves. The Bible tells us in Matthew 21, Mark 11, and John 2 that Jesus went into the temple, overturned all the money changer’s tables, drove them out of the temple, and made an example of them before the people. Because Jesus had been a threat to his business interests, Annas, as well as his associates, were determined to eliminate Him. Listen: the fact that those who arrested Jesus first brought Him to Annas proves that Annas was the ultimate power behind the threat to kill Jesus. And, the fact that they took Jesus to Annas before they went to Caiphas reveals that Caiphas was a puppet under the control of his father-in-law.

B. It Continued With an Illegal Procedure

In verse 53, the Bible says that the high priest and all the chief priests, elders, and scribes assembled together for the trial. Verse 55 uses the word ‘council’ to describe this group. The word for ‘council’ is the word ‘sunedrion,’ or Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin consisted of 70 chief priests, elders, and scribes, with the High Priest making it 71. The general requirements of the Sanhedrin were based upon Deuteronomy 16:18-20, which says, “Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment. Thou shalt not pervert judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous. That which is altogether just shalt thou follow.” But the procedure that this Sanhedrin followed was anything but just. Upon proper examination of Jewish law, this was an illegal assembly, because no judgment process brought to the Sanhedrin could be started at night. The law said that no criminal trial could begin or could continue into the night. Also, an accused criminal was given a right to a public trial, a proper defense, and conviction was secured only on the testimony of at least two very reliable witnesses. The law also required that a death sentence could not be carried out until at least three days after the verdict was rendered. None of these rights were afforded to Jesus by the Sanhedrin.

C. In Convened With an Illegal Purpose

Notice what the Bible says in verses 55-56: “And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put Him to death; and found none. For many bear false witness against Him, but their witnesses agreed not together.” Not only was the trial of Jesus commenced with an illegal person, continued with an illegal procedure, but it also convened with an illegal purpose. This is seen in the court’s intended wickedness. The intentions on the part of Annas and Caiaphas and the rest of the Sanhedrin were bent on seeing that Jesus be put to death. Jewish law demanded that there always be an assumption of innocence in such cases. Law also demanded that the Sanhedrin save, not destroy life. From the very beginning, this kangaroo court was determined to put Jesus to death, whether they followed they followed the book or not. This is also seen in the court’s instigated witnesses. They searched high and low for someone to bring forth enough evidence to condemn Jesus, but the Bible says they could not find anyone. So they tried to instigate some false witness against Jesus. But again, their witness did not corroborate. And just to show you how illegal the whole ordeal was, listen to what Deuteronomy 19:16-19 has to say about the illegality of false witness: “If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; Then both the men shall stand before the Lord, before the priests, before the judges, which shall be in those days; And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testifies falsely against his brother; Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you.” From every possible angle, the trial of our Lord was a crime. The bottom line is that the Jews were looking for some legal loophole in order to justify their murder of an innocent man! But they couldn’t even find one!

II. The Claims of Our Lord’s Trial

Not only was Christ’s trial very illegal, but there were some claims that were made during the trial that I want us to consider. Every trial has some sort of claim or several claims that are made. There are those who claim innocence, while at the same time there are those who are claiming guilt on the part of the defendant. Mark’s gospel mentions two claims that were involved in Christ’s trial:

A. The Claim Involving the Temple

In verse 58, the false witnesses who arose to testify against Jesus said, “We heard Him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.” Their foolish testimony was based on misquoting the actual words of Jesus as recorded in John 2:19, where He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days, I will raise it up.” Some of those present thought that Jesus was referring to the temple complex when in actuality, He was referring to His own body! All these self-righteous religious Pharisees were concerned about was their temple structure, which by the way had been devoid of the presence and power of God for more than 600 years! Jesus’ own body was the temple of God, not some man-made structure they were referring to. In Acts 7:48, Stephen testified, “Howbeit the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands.” I’m telling you, the power and presence of God was not in the temple; it was in the God-man standing right before them! Notice that Jesus did not say, “I will destroy.” Instead, He said, “Destroy this temple,” or, “You destroy this temple.” It was a prophetic claim, that though He would be delivered into the hands of sinners, and though His body would be destroyed through death, three days later, He would have a victorious, visible, bodily resurrection!

B. The Claim Involving the Truth

When false witness wouldn’t work, the High Priest tried to get Jesus to incriminate Himself. Notice verses 60-61: “And the High Priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest Thou nothing? What is it which these witness against Thee? But He held His peace, and answered nothing.” Isaiah 53:7 is clearly seen here, for there the Bible says, “He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.” Should the Creator owe the creation an explanation? When Job demanded God to answer, God responded by saying, “Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou Me! Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, it thou hast understanding!” The Son of God owed no man an explanation for anything! Notice the rest of verse 61: “Again the High Priest asked Him, and said unto Him, Art Thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Matthew records Caiaphas as saying, “I adjure Thee by the living God, that Thou tell us whether Thou be the Christ, the Son of God.” The Lord was in effect being sworn in, just as in our courts, a witness is asked to affirm that he will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God. Jesus had no problem with telling the truth. Notice verse 62: “And Jesus said, I AM: and ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” When Moses asked God who He was, the Lord simply responded by saying, “I AM!” The Lord Jesus Christ, the Great I AM, does not back down from the truth! The promise of Him coming in the clouds of heaven served as another claim to be God. Caiaphas did not see the deity of Christ then, but he would go on to see it in a coming day. Christ might have been standing before him then, but when he stood to give an account to God at the end of his life, it was Christ that he had to stand before! I guarantee he wished that he would have used some better judgment!

III. The Cruelty of Our Lord’s Trial

Not only was His trial a crime, and not only were there claims made, but His trial was also very cruel. Upon hearing Jesus claim to be God, the Bible says that the high priest tore his clothes, declared Jesus guilty of blasphemy, and condemned to Him to death. The cruelty that Jesus experienced in seen in two ways:

A. The Cruelty of Being Blasphemed and Spit Upon

Rather then Jesus being guilty of blasphemy, it was them who were guilty of blasphemy. Notice verse 64: “Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned Him to be guilty of death.” That word ‘guilty’ means deserving or worthy. The perfect Son of God was blasphemously accused of being worthy of death, though He was sinless. In verse 65, the Bible says, “And some began to spit on Him.” I can’t think of anything more degrading, more shameful, and more humiliating, than to have someone intentionally spit on me. But even in this, Scripture was fulfilled. In Isaiah 50:6, the Bible says, “I gave My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not My face from shame and spitting.”

B. The Cruelty of Being Blindfolded and Struck Upon

Verse 65 goes on to say that they covered His face, or blindfolded His eyes. They then went on to taunt Him, and the officers slapped Him with the palms of their hands. Luke 22:64 says, “And when they had blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face.” I’ve read this verse many times, but I’ve never stopped to think about what it must have been like for Jesus to be blindfolded, and then beaten. Have you ever wondered why they made the effort to blindfold the Lord? I can’t help but feel that it was because of the look in His eyes. Those cruel torturers could not bear to look into His eyes. Each time they spit in His precious face, and each time they slapped Him and bruised Him, they would have seen something in His eyes that they would have seen in no other. If it were me they were battering and bullying, they would have saw hatred and anger in my eyes. But in those eyes, there was nothing but compassion, nothing but grace, nothing but love in the fullest degree. Each time a knuckled fist busted and bruised His innocent cheek, His eyes said nothing more than, “I love you! I love you!” Because of their conviction, they blindfolded Him. Because of their cowardice, they blindfolded Him. Because of their cruelty, they blindfolded Him. O, how often have we ourselves done the same thing? We think that we can blindfold the Lord, and pretend that He doesn’t see who we are when no one is watching. We think we have Him blindfolded to the sins that we are guilty of. Do you realize that every person who rejects Jesus is guilty of spitting in His face? I’m telling you, if you walk away from this message knowing that you are lost and need to accept Christ for who He is, you are spitting in His face and writing off life and death as something unimportant.


In closing, let me ask you what Caiaphas asked the rest of the chief priests: “What think ye?” What have you done with Christ? In the case of our Lord’s trial, it appeared that He was on trial, but He was not the One who was on trial. It was man who was on trial and the question was, … what would man do with Jesus Christ!