Jesus before the Sanhedrim
A fundamental decision to intervene against Jesus that fell at a council meeting turned into an act on Olive’s mountain on the night of Thursday to Friday, when Jesus was arrested. That very night, they brought Jesus into the high priest’s palace, where she has apparently already managed to gather again and gather the Sanhedrin with her three factions-priests, elders, and lawmakers. Two ‘trials’ with Jesus before the Holy See and before the Roman governor Pilate became the subject of extensive discussions in the circles of law historians and exegetes, who analyzed them down to the smallest detail. To these subtle historical issues, we do not have to enter here. After all, as Martin Hengel has already pointed out, daily we do not know Sadducee criminal law, and do retroactive conclusions regarding the time of Jesus from the later treatise of the Mishnah Sanhedrin are not allowed.
At present, our knowledge and could, however, be likely to the hearing against Jesus before the council was not for the process in the proper sense of the word, but only a kind of ordinary interrogation, which ended with a resolution to issue Jesus to the Roman governor to condemn him. Let’s take a closer look at the Gospel accounts. It will always be a matter of us getting to know and understand better—the person of Jesus. We have already seen that after the cleansing of the temple, two lawsuits against Jesus hung in the air.
The first concerned words that explained the prophetic symbolic act of expelling cattle and vendors from the temple. This appeared as an attack on the holy place itself and thus on the Torah on which Israel’s whole life was based. I consider it important that the hearing subject was not the act of cleansing the temple itself but only the interpretive words by which the Lord explained his gesture. It can be concluded that the symbolic act did not go beyond unbearable limits and did not provoke any public unrest that would become the reason for criminal proceedings. Greater security was represented by words giving meaning to events, the apparent attack on the temple, and Jesus’ claim to “power of attorney. We know from the Acts of the Apostles that the same lawsuit was also raised against Stephen. He followed Jehovah’s prophecy about the temple, which his listeners considered blasphemy, and therefore stoned him. Witnesses appeared in the trial of Jesus to reproduce Jesus’s words. However, they did not have a single version: what Jesus did, he actually said it could not be unambiguously communicated. The fact that this indictment was later withdrawn shows that the competent authorities sought legal correct procedure.
The second point of the accusation was based on the words of Jesus in the temple. Jesus made a messianic claim, which in a way put him in a position of oneness with God himself, thus seemingly contrary to the foundation of faith. Israel is the confession of one God. Note that both points of the indictment are of a purely theological nature. However, since, as we have said, it was not possible to separate the religious and political levels, the two actions also have a political dimension: the temple was a sacrifice to the place of Israel where he traveled during the great holidays of the whole nation and was, therefore, the basis of internal unity Israel. A messianic claim is a claim to reign over Israel. Therefore, as a reason for Jesus’ execution,
then the words “King of the Jews” fixed on the cross. According to what we learn from Jewish events of the war, there were certainly many in a circle that tended to liberate Israel by political and military means. Well, the way he presented his claim to Jesus obviously didn’t seem right to them to serve such an intention. In comparison, the existing state of affairs, in which Rome was, nevertheless, had to be preferred. He only respected Israel’s religious principles. So the existence of the temple and the people were quite well guaranteed. After an unsuccessful attempt to raise a clear line against Jesus and the reasoned lawsuit based on his statement on the destruction and rebuilding of the temple was a dramatic clash between the reigning high priest of Israel, the supreme instance of the chosen nation, and Jesus in whom later Christians met “high priest of future gifts. (Hebrews g, n) and the definitive high priest “according to the order of Melchizedek” (Z 110.4; Heb r 5,6 and elsewhere). In the four Gospels, this historical moment appears like a drama in which three different planes intersect, which we must perceive as one whole to be events they understood in all their complexity (cf. Mt 26: 57-75; Mk 14.53-72; Lk 22: 54-71; Jn 18: 12-27). At the same time, when Caiaphas hears Jesus and finally asks him a question about his messianic identity, Peter sat in the courtyard of the palace and denied Jesus. The chronological intertwining of both suggestively depicts these scenes, in particular, evangelist John. In Matthew’s version, the question of messianic rank appears in the intrinsic connection between Jesus’ confession and Peter’s denial. With Jesus, the temple guard’s mockery is also directly connected with the interrogation (or were they the members of the council themselves?) to which, at the trial before Pilate will be ridiculed, Roman soldiers.
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