Jesus before the Jewish Council (Matthew 26: 57–68)

The Sanhedrin was the supreme council of Jews which controlled civil and religious law.

It had 71 members and was made up of Pharisees and Sadducees. The head of the council was the high priest, who at the time of Jesus’ trial was called Caiaphas.

The council controlled the issues, concerns and affairs of the Jewish people in Palestine. However, they could not sentence someone to death - only the Romans had the power to do that.

Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin accused of blasphemy - they thought he was disrespectful to God by claiming to have God-given powers.

Many people gave false testimony against Jesus, but their statements did not match so he could not be convicted this way. As a result, the high priest stood up and questioned Jesus directly, which was against the rules of the court.

At first Jesus did not answer the accusation, but when he was put under oath and asked if he was the Messiah he replied “I am.”

Jesus explained his identity in his own terms, “you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven".

The high priest had heard enough and tore his robes to express his outrage at such blasphemy. The others attacked Jesus – spitting, punching and mocking him.

Reasons why this was an unfair trial

  • Jesus’ trial took place in the high priest’s house.
  • Jesus trial took place at night - trials that could result in execution could not take place at night.
  • Two witnesses accused Jesus of threatening to destroy the temple. False witnesses could be punished by death.