The Roman soldiers and the temple guards didn't pin Jesus to the ground on the site but waited for a week to arrest him. Since Jesus did quite a crime in the eyes of the chief priests and there was a lot of political tension during Passover, why were they so hesitant to arrest him?

Luke 19 (NIV) 45When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. 46“It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’[a]; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’[b]

47Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. 48Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.


Footnotes:

a Isaiah 56:7

b Jer. 7:11

  • You might want to specify the specific passage you have in mind. – user33515 Feb 4 at 7:00
  • The verse says it directly. The temple leaders were afraid of public reprisal. The temple guards presumably answered to them. – Luke Sawczak Jun 12 at 9:57
  • I think the passage from Luke, which you quoted, gives you the answer to your question: ". . . because all the people hung on his words." To this day, generally speaking, when hoi polloi hang on a leader's every word, the powers that be have to bide their time in order to devise plan B, particularly if there is danger of a riot breaking out in support of the leader. – rhetorician Oct 11 at 9:00

There was much at stake here when Jesus became enraged and began his assault on the money changers. It appears to have been a sudden outburst on Christ's part.

Quite possibly, Jesus had never visited the Temple in Jerusalem as an adult. If this is true, he would have obviously been shocked and enraged by what he recognized as a vile threat against his Father's temple.

In defense of this position consider this: We recognize that this type of unorthodox activity had been in practice for many years and that the priests at the Temple were aware of these activities and probably even played a part in the implementation of these activities.

If this is so, then the priests of the Temple at Jerusalem had to be cautious lest they open themselves up to much public ridicule. If they were indeed taking bribes or a percentage from the money changers' profits, then we can be very certain that they did not want an open confrontation with Christ. This may well have kept them from demanding that the Roman guards arrest Jesus for his behavior.

Although this is a simple hypothesis, there is no other reason for the priests not to have had Jesus arrested on the spot. Though we may never know the exact reason for their allowing Jesus to leave the Temple grounds without further incident, we are aware the temple priests were often corrupt. They obviously needed time to fabricate a story and bring charges against Christ that would not endanger their temple misdoings.

  • I think you need some evidence for your conjecture about Jesus not having been to the temple in Jerusalem as an adult. Don – rhetorician Oct 11 at 8:34
  • You are correct. My statement implying Jesus may not have visited the temple in his adult life is conjecture. The "conjecture" is based on the fact that the synoptic gospels never record Jesus at the temple until the "triumphant entry" just prior to Passover. However, John 10 records a time during a Feast of Dedication that Jesus was "walking in the temple". This was clearly before Jesus entered the temple and over turned the tables. It's surely understood that Jesus had a purpose and a time table for the events in his life. His holy purpose, to be our savior and high priest, had not yet come. – Joe Oct 12 at 14:53

Immediately after the flood in Noah's day, God instituted human government by placing the authority of capital punishment into the hands of men. Man would be responsible to put murderers to death, and thus human government was born (Gen 9:6).

This passing of judgment to allow the death sentence has been a symbol of a government's authority over its people. Throughout the history of Israel, they were conquered many times but still allowed to govern their own people who remained in the land. In about 4 AD, King Herod (who had tried to kill the young Jesus by wiping out a large number of babies) had died, and his son, Herod Archelaus, replaced him. He was very unpopular, and he was removed in 6 AD.

A Roman procurator, Caponius, came into power and removed the authority of Jewish leadership, particularly the power of the Sanhedrin (Jewish Religious leaders) to sentence people to death. (This is why they had to get Roman permission to crucify Jesus.)

The entire Sanhedrin began to wail, covering their heads with ashes and wearing sackcloth. They went around Jerusalem crying “Woe unto us for the scepter has departed from Judah and the Messiah has not come!” (Babylonian Talmud Chap 4, folio 24). Had they only believed their Bibles, they should have rejoiced that the scepter HAD departed, because that could only mean the Messiah had arrived and they just needed to find Him.

God’s Word cannot be broken. A few miles away a young boy named Jesus was being raised by his mother and adoptive father, growing in grace and truth. Shiloh had arrived.

Too many people who supported Jesus were present in the temple. Since he had just ridden into Jerusalem to the praise of all the people, a riot would have broken out to defend Him if the Sanhedrin had stood against him.

Instead of standing against Jesus publically during the day, they had to convict him secretly at night, since holding trials at night was illegal. Moreover, they had to use false witnesses to convict Jesus of His crimes. They then had to threaten riots if Pilate did not rule in their favor against Jesus.

In conclusion, Jesus could have defended Himself. However, he was on trial in our place, so to speak, and found guilty in our stead.

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