The following verses indicates that those who plotted to kill Jesus planned it for an extended period of time.

Mark 3:6 of the American Standard Version says, And the Pharisees went out, and straightway with the Herodians took counsel against him, how they might destroy him.

Then again in Matthew 22:15-22 says,

Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might ensnare him in his talk. 16 And they send to him their disciples, with the Herodians, saying, Teacher, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, and carest not for any one: for thou regardest not the person of men. 17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why make ye trial of me, ye hypocrites? 19 Show me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a [a]denarius. 20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? 21 They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. 22 And when they heard it, they marvelled, and left him, and went away.

Then in John 11:47:52, 47 says:

The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many signs. 48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation. 49 But a certain one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50 nor do ye take account that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51 Now this he said not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation; 52 and not for the nation only, but that he might also gather together into one the children of God that are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day forth they took counsel that they might put him to death.

Luke 22:54 also says that Jesus' trial was held at Caiphas' house at night. Was that legal?

Jesus was tried by those who were prejudiced against him.

Was the Pharisees motive for wanting Jesus dead righteous? Was the charge of blasphemy a fabrication and a false charge used in order to justify killing Jesus?

  • 1
    Aren't the answers to all these rather well known and obvious from common Christian knowledge?
    – Dottard
    May 18, 2020 at 7:05
  • A trial at night wasn't legal, but they were in a hurry.
    – Perry Webb
    May 20, 2020 at 1:28

2 Answers 2


The trial of Jesus was a sham from the very start. Here are some of the illegal aspects of Jesus' trials. All of the following material has been attributed to the work of Chuck Swindoll. I have edited out some of the material for the sake of brevity. I realize it is still rather lengthy but it is very informative and well worth the read.

  1. The arrest – According to Talmudic Law:

a. “A man could not be arrested for a capitol crime at night. Such arrest had to be make during the day time. When Jesus was arrested, it was about 2:00 in the morning.”

b. “If a man was arrested for a capital crime, no one cooperating in the arrest could be in any way connected to the one who is accused. No arrest for a capital crime could be made based upon information given by a follower or colleague of the accused. Because they felt if the accused was guilty so were his followers. But the entire plot revolved around Judas, one of the followers. This law was blatantly and openly ignored.”

c. “No Jewish trial could ever be held at night. The law stated that it must be held in the daytime. Listen to the code, which is taken from the Talmud: 'The members of the court may not alertly and intelligently hear the testimony against the accused during the hours of darkness.' Both before Annas and before Caiaphas, these trials were held in darkness.”

d. “The members of the Jewish court, after hearing the testimony of true witnesses (none of which were ever brought before Jesus) in a capital crime, could not immediately act and judge. They were to go home and remain alone and separate from one another for two days (at the least, one full day), thinking about the testimonies they had heard. During that time, here's what they were to do. Here's the language of the code: 'Eat like food, drink like wines, sleep well. And once again return and hear the testimony of the accused. Then, and only then, shall you render a vote.' They didn't do that. They Jewish court never left the presence of Caiaphas!”

e. “Even the method of voting was specified! They never took an 'all in favor say I, all opposed say no' kind of vote. Their vote was supposed to be taken from the youngest to the oldest so that the youngest wouldn't be intimidated or influenced by the older votes. This never happened.”

f. “No trial could be held before only one judge, and never without a defense attorney. All of that was overlooked, openly, willfully ignored and disobeyed. Even though they were people of the book, they didn't follow their own rules. In the history of jurisprudence, I don't know of a more fallacious series of trials.”

  1. The first trial was before Annas.

Why was Jesus taken before Annas? This was nothing more than an act of vindictiveness on the part of Annas.

“Annas wasn't even the High Priest! He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the High Priest. What's the father-in-law doing seeing an accused man at 2 o'clock in the morning when he is no longer in the court? That was Caiaphas's job. When Jesus put together some leather thongs, and he made a whip, and went into the temple and he drove the moneychangers from the temple (Matthew 21:12, Mark 11:15) the man in charge of that bazaar at the time was named Annas, who was the High Priest at that time. He has been the High Priest for seventeen years. He was the boss of the Mafia. The Mafia was in charge of two special things at Passover. First, the changing of money (and the discount rate was atrocious). Second, the purchasing of sacrificial animals (and the cost was incredible). If you were smart enough to bring your own animal, you had to have it pass the Mafia, or Annas' men. And when you brought your animal there, they would take a careful look at the animal and would surely find some marks that would keep you from using your animal. So you must buy their animal, and their animals were three times, sometimes four times more than you would ever pay back home for a good sheep. And all the profit wound up in Annas' pocket. He was a crook.”

“He passed off the throne to his son-in-law who was nothing more than a puppet of Rome and a pawn in the hand of his father-in-law. Annas never forgot the time Jesus drove them out of the temple and he lost all that money. And he wrote down in his mind, “One of these days, buddy, I'm going to get back at you.” And now he's got his chance.”

“Here's Jesus, hands ties behind his back, standing in front of Annas. Everything about it is illegal. He has no business standing before someone who is not in council. And there are no witnesses. As a matter of fact, he wasn't even required to answer! No Jew had to make his own statement. There were statements made against the accused and the council would decide on a verdict, but the accused could remain mute from beginning to ending. But that's not the way they did it.”

“There are two things that he probed. Annas wanted to know about the men, and then he wanted to know about his teaching (John 18:19). Jesus doesn't answer to his first question, but as to his teaching he answers in a most unusual way.

John 18:20-21, “Jesus answered him, "I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret.”

“Jesus was struck by an officer after he said this (verse 22). By the way, brutality was never allowed in the court either. Under the rules of trial procedure, Jesus knew that it was against the law to solicit the testimony of any, except witnesses and collaborators. Besides, under the law, no prisoner had to undergo preliminary examination. So, Jesus told him to ask witnesses what he taught. After he was struck, “Jesus answered him, "If I have spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me” (John 18:23). When Annas was finished with him, he had no answer. He was silenced. He himself was judged, not Christ. And so they carted him off to Caiaphas (verse 24).

  1. The second trial is before Caiaphas, Mark 14:53,

“They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together.”

Caiaphas got together a group of men about 3:30 in the morning. Remember, it's illegal because it's dark, it's illegal because it's a preliminary hearing, it's illegal because they're in the wrong place, Caisphas' house, they're not in the council chamber. It's a clandestine meeting, it's a kangaroo court!

Mark 14:56-59, “For many were giving false testimony against Him, but their testimony was not consistent. Some stood up and began to give false testimony against Him, saying, '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.”

These witnesses were contradicting each other. Caiaphas has to get this case down to Pilate. He was told by his father-in-law that he wants this man killed! And Caiaphas knows that he has no witnesses! So what does he do? Well, he tries another illegal route. He talks to the accused (Mark 14:60), but Jesus held his peace and said nothing (verse 61). Then Caiaphas asks him if he's “the Christ, the Son of the Blessed one” (verse 61), and Jesus answers him! “I am.”

You might be wondering why does he answer now and not before? In another gospel, just before Caiaphas asked this question, Caiaphas said, “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.” (Matthew 26:63) And when a pious Jew heard that, he was obliged to answer. Under oath, he could not plead any amendment, he had to answer. And look at his answer: Mark 14:62, “And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

He was simply laying a prophesy on Caiaphas that he couldn't handle. And in good legal fashion, Caiaphas grabbed the collar of his robe and he gave it a yank. Because the Talmud required that when a moderator heard blasphemous words, he was to publicly disagree by tearing his garments. By the way, Leviticus taught that no official was to tear his garments, and so that's where the Talmud cuts grains with scripture, but they were driven by the Talmud…at least the parts that they liked. The other parts they left out. Mark 14:63, “Why do we need any more witnesses?” That's a nice out, isn't it? Who needs witnesses when you don't have them? By the way, it's not allowed for the moderator to make the decision, the council had to make a decision. He didn't say let's take a vote in the order prescribed by law. No. Instead he said “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think? They all condemned him as worthy of death.” (verse 64), and they all condemned him. Then they added some extracurricular activities; they spit on him, covered his face and beat him with their fists, and mocked him.

  1. The trial is before the Sanhedrin

By the time the first two trials were over, Jesus was bleeding and bruised when, as yet, there was no official verdict cast upon his life. All that transpired occurred during the hours of darkness, and therefore nothing would be recognized as official by the Romans until he had his audience before the Sanhedrin.

a. Luke 2266-71 records what transpired about 6 o'clock in the morning. Luke 22:66 says it was day. Mark 15:1 tells us it was early in the morning. Understand that the supreme court of the Jews was the Sanhedrin. What they discovered and declared became law. There was no such thing as going to a higher court, because there was no higher court. Therefore, when the Sanhedrin met, and passed final judgment, it was as the law of the Medes and the Persians, Jesus was destined for the cross.

“When it was day, the Council of elders of the people assembled, both chief priests and scribes, and they led Him away to their council chamber, saying, 'If You are the Christ, tell us.' But He said to them, 'If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask a question, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.' And they all said, 'Are You the Son of God, then?' And He said to them, 'Yes, I am.' Then they said, 'What further need do we have of testimony? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.'”

b. This third trial was the shortest of all the trials. Jesus, in their mind, was guilty. Besides Nicodemus, who acquiesced in silence, they voted unanimously to take him to Pilate. The charge was blasphemy, but that would not stand up in a Roman court. Therefore, between the time that they dismissed and gained an audience with the governor, Pilate, they made plans to switch the accusation to treason, and they claimed that he was guilty of attempting to overthrow the government. Luke 23:1, “Then the whole body of them got up and brought Him before Pilate.”

  1. The fourth trial is before Pilate Major Points omitted by John
    • The fact that Peter swore with an oath that he did not know Jesus.
    • The fact that Peter left and wept bitterly over his denial of the Lord.
    • Judas' remorse over his betrayal of Jesus.
    • The warning of Pilate's concerning Jesus.
    • The washing of Pilate's hands.
    • The account of the un-named young man who fled naked in the garden.

The law is no longer the Talmud, the law is now the Roman Code of Criminal Procedure; And there were four steps that they must follow to make this an accurate court of law. We'll carry them through one by one.

Firstly, here's a little background on Pilate. He was an anti-Semitic, Spain born Gentile. He was appointed by Caesar to govern Judea. He is what we would call the governor of the State, though in those days they had provinces. Pilate was a marked man in the mind of Caesar, and also his court, because of the number of revolutions that had broken out under his rule. He had made some unwise decisions, he had murdered some Jews, he had tightened the screws of Roman requirements, he lacked diplomacy. Therefore, the State over which he served was in turmoil.

Caesar, with tacit approval, left him there as governor, but he was under investigation at this particular time. After the trial and death of Jesus, Pilate was banished to Gall and, while he was there, he died of suicide. Pilate was a very unstable man, and because of a few political maneuverings on his part, he became the governor of a province.

The time was around 6:30 to 7 o'clock in the morning. John 18:28, "Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the Passover."

They were criminal in attitude, but they were extremely legal in their religion. The Talmud stated that no Jew could enter a Gentile court on Passover, or he would be defiled. So, they stayed out of the court itself, and apparently, Pilate came out to them. a. The first law of Roman criminal code in its procedure was accusation.

That was the first thing that Pilate covered. John 18:29, “Pilate then went out unto them...” You'll see him coming out and going back in continuous fashion.

John 18:29-30, “…What accusation bring ye against this man? They answered and said unto him, ‘If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.’” This is a sarcastic answer and did not answer Pilate's question. “If he was not guilty, we wouldn't be here, Pilate!”

John 18:31, “Then said Pilate unto them, ‘Take ye him, and judge him according to your law...’” Pilate doesn't know that it's a capital punishment under way. He simply said if it's a problem in your law, then you take him and you judge him.

John 18:31, “...The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:” This changes the whole thing. From the other gospels, they declared that he's guilty of treason, and that he claimed to be another Caesar.

John 18:33, “Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again…” You see, he's entering in again. “...and called Jesus.” b. The second law of Roman criminal code in its procedure, after accusation, was interrogation.

This was done to probe and search for evidence against the man. So, Pilate asked the following questions:

John 18:33-35, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered him, 'Do you say this thing of yourself, or did others tell it of me?' Pilate answered, 'Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you unto me: what have you done?" He wanted to know if Jesus was in the process of overthrowing the government in Palestine.

John 18:36, "Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence." If Jesus wanted to overthrow the government, his servants would be fighting, carrying on a revolution, taking lives, storming this temple, ruining this procedure. What Jesus told them to do instead was “go home!”

c. The third process in the Roman code was defense.

And now Pilate, acting on behalf of a defense attorney, begins to look at this side of Jesus. By the way, the Roman Law, much like American law, allowed for a defense attorney, but you never find where Jesus was allowed that. So, Pilate looks at it from Jesus' point of view… “so you're a king!” John 18:37, “Pilate therefore said unto him, Are you a king then? Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice.’”

John 18:38, “Pilate saith unto him, ‘What is truth?’” This has nothing to do with the case, it has a lot to do with Pilate's mind set. He was a very mixed up, miserable man. In a matter of months, he would be taking his own life. He was in a quandary regarding the area of objective, sound truth. And so he says, “What's truth?”

d. The fourth step is a verdict.

Accusation, interrogation, defense, and a verdict. And all four are acted out for us right here. Pilate says …And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and said to them, I find in him no fault at all.” (verse 38). All he finds is some spiritual kingdom, and that's not going to affect or threaten Rome! Jesus is not guilty of treason! Luke 23:4-5, “I find no guilt in this man.” But they kept on insisting, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching all over Judea, starting from Galilee even as far as this place.” Now when Pilate heard the word “Galilee,” he had an ingenious idea. Galilee really wasn't his jurisdiction, and since he didn't want this case, he tried to find somebody else to try Jesus so he sent Jesus to Herod.

  1. The fifth and final trial is before Herod, Luke 23:6-7

Only Luke records Jesus' appearance before Herod. “When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time.”

Herod was his life-long enemy up until this event. Herod's the one who beheaded John the Baptist. He's the one who dealt with vicious cruelty over his subjects. Now, Herod has looked upon Jesus as a magician, and he has been anxious to see Jesus do a trick.

Luke 23:8, “And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him.”

By the way, you do not see where Jesus responds to Herod in any way. It was no proceeding at all. All Herod wanted was a game, he wanted a jester for his court, he wanted a clown. When Jesus wouldn't cooperate, we read that they mocked him as a king.

Luke 23:10-11, “And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. And Herod with his men of war set him at naught, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate.”

  1. The sixth trial is before Pilate once again,

Now back at the Palace, Pilate was probably eating breakfast and thinking, “Whew! That's over.” And he looks out his window, and there came Jesus back, bound and robed as a king. It was obvious to Pilate that Herod was not in any cooperative mood. The whole event brought Herod and Pilate together as friends.

Luke 23:12, “And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.”

Pilate did not want to declare him guilty, so he tried several avenues to get out of that verdict. The first thing he offered was to chastise and beat Jesus, then release him, but hey said no. The second thing he tried to do was release Jesus through a custom they had. It was a custom to release a prisoner on the Passover.

Matthew 27:15, “Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.”

Barabbas was a notorious criminal, he was a murderer, he was an insurrectionist, he was guilty of sedition, and he was bound in prison awaiting death by crucifixion. It was a capital crime he had committed. He was the one guilty of treason. So, Pilate thought that if he were to put Barabbas next to Jesus, and offered to release one of them, the crowds would say, "Don't release Barabbus! Release Jesus!" But it backfired upon him. They said they wanted Jesus crucified (Matthew 27:19-23)!

So, then they gathered a whole band of soldiers, stripped him and put on a scarlet robe, placed a crown of thorns on his head, and a reed in his right hand, mocked him by bowing down and saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”, and they struck him on the head, spit upon him, and led him away to be crucified. (Matthew 27:26-31). Thus, ends the trials of Jesus before the authorities.

  • 1
    Kangaroo court indeed.
    – user35499
    May 20, 2020 at 10:25

One should divide the weights of two different (even if interrelated) things: (1) did Jews violate the proceeding of law (the time and manner of arresting; time and manner of trial and rules of proper interrogation etc. and (2) the gist of the matter: was Jesus guilty in any manner with reference to the Law, as it was understood by Jewish religious authorities? Was He, even if without proper proceedings of His trial, still objectively guilty according to the Law as understood by those authorities, to the effect that they sent for Him to be arrested?

Now, that the first (1) of the inquiries is to be answered affirmatively, was so amply shown in the previous great answer by @oldhermit.

And, it is clear, that also second (2) inquiry is to be answered affirmatively, because Jesus claimed for Himself a status, that was regarded by Jewish religious authorities as an outright, blatant and unequivocal blasphemy: "You being man, make yourself God" (John 10:33); exactly that was how they - quite correctly - interpreted Jesus exclusive claim of God being His Father in a unique way, making the Temple His property in a unique and exclusive way (Luke 2:29) and calling Himself the "Son of God", for even during His trial this claim, which He openly affirmed before the high priest, was considered by the latter as an outright blasphemy, and the punishment for blasphemy was death according to the Jewish Law (Matthew 26:63-65).

But the most interesting issue pops up here: according to the mainstream Jewish religiosity, according to the legitimate religious authority that claimed an unbroken heredity from the prophets and that was recognised by Rome, Jesus' interpretation of Messiah (as not merely a man, however great and glorious, but as Lord worshiped by the very prophets (Matthew 22:45) now visible in human form) was totally unacceptable and blasphemous. And that is a paradox: what was a correct theology appeared as a blasphemy in the categories of the theologians of the Law, who saw themselves as standards of correct faith. Thus, it was a horrible test to the conscience of Jews: they had to really follow the evidence of Jesus' ministry and words, penetrate their mystery, follow to the utmost their dialectics and arrive at a totally outlandish and paradoxical conclusion that He was eternal God, co-eternal to the Father and deserving the same worship (cf. John 5:23). Without aid of the Holy Spirit it was impossible (is impossible) for humans to follow this dialectics (Matthew 16:17; 1 Corinthians 12:3) and come to the salutary paradox of the Godhead of Jesus Christ.

Paradoxically, for Jews to arrive to this above mentioned correct vision of the Messiah, it was necessary to become blasphemers of their own mainstream religious visions, and the Principle of this "blasphemy" for them was divine inspiration. Thus, one can say that God decided to save Jews through a scandal and "blasphemy". How much easier it would have been for non-Jews to accept Jesus as Lord, than for Jews, whose very mainstream theological interpretative tools and notions prevented them to see in Jesus anything but the greatest blasphemer who ever had lived on this planet!

  • So, was the motive of the those that put him to trial righteous?
    – user35499
    May 19, 2020 at 0:48
  • On the one hand, yes, it was righteous in their own terms and perspective (not divine terms and perspective), as they frankly said to Pilate (John 19:7), however on the other hand they were obliged to reinterpret their very terms and perspectives after having seen what Jesus was doing on His own authority (rising dead, forgiving sins, ordering spirits etc.) which was impossible had He not been God or had He opposed the Father. Caiaphas knew that He was innocent, but just out of practicality to save Jews, deemed it right to kill Him (John 11:49-50) but to kill an innocent man is an injustice. May 19, 2020 at 6:04
  • Jesus himself said plainly he can't do anything of himself, but does it for the one who sent him. John 5:30
    – user35499
    May 19, 2020 at 6:13
  • And that is a claim of His Divinity, for to say that He cannot do anything but what Father does, and that Father's deeds are His deeds also (John 5:17) means that neither Father can do anything but through and with the Son, to give a famous theological simile, just as the sun cannot enlighten but with its rays. Yet, the divinity of Christ is a separate question, for your current question it suffices that Jesus claimed His Divinity, this was considered blasphemy by Jewish authorities in their terms, but they were obliged to change those terms having seen Jesus deeds. To fail to do so, was sin. May 19, 2020 at 6:42
  • I will take Jesus' answer. My previous comment was a reply to your "Jesus was doing on his own authority" comment. The Jesus of the bible worships the only true God which he says is greater than him. These he said plainly and unequivocally.
    – user35499
    May 19, 2020 at 7:26

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