What legal trials of Jesus led to His crucifixion?
The night before Jesus was sentenced to death by crucifixion, He was arrested and tried seven times (some note six based on how these trials are counted). They included:
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1. The trial before Annas: John 18:12-14, 19-23 include the details of the first Jewish trial of Jesus. Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas the high priest.
2. The trial before Caiaphas: All four Gospels record this trial (Matthew 26:57-68; Mark 14:53-65; Luke 22:54, 63-65; John 18:24), with Matthew offering the most detailed account. We are told Caiaphas was high priest that year and had predicted one man should die on behalf of the people. In this second trial, the religious leaders gathered together, bringing many false witnesses against Jesus. Jesus spoke of Himself as the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, a clear reference to Himself as Messiah. The high priest tore his clothes, claiming Jesus had given evidence worthy of death on His own.
3. The trial before the Sanhedrin: All three Synoptic Gospels record this third Jewish trial (Matthew 27:1; Mark 15:1; Luke 22:66-71) that took place "as soon as it was day" (Luke 22:66). Jesus again referred to Himself as the Son of Man and was delivered to the Roman leader Pilate for trial.
4. The trial before Pilate: All four Gospels record this trial (Matthew 27:1-2, 11-14; Mark 15:1-5; Luke 23:1-7; John 18:28-32, 33-38), with John giving an extended account. Pilate found nothing worthy of death to condemn, sending Jesus to King Herod.
5. The trial before Herod: Only Luke records this trial (Luke 23:6-12). Herod hoped to see a miracle, though Jesus answered none of the charges against Him. Herod and his men mocked Jesus and sent Him back to Pilate with a kingly robe.
6. The second trial before Pilate: All four Gospels record this trial (Matthew 27:15-23; Mark 15:6-14; Luke 23:13-22; John 18:39-19:6). In the end, Pilate claimed to have nothing to do with the punishment of Jesus, leaving the fate of Jesus to the crowd in the form of allowing them to choose freedom for Jesus or to release a known criminal named Barabbas.
7. The trial of the Jewish people: The Jews who had gathered for Passover shouted "Crucify! Crucify!" and chose freedom for Barabbas rather than Jesus. Jesus was then sentenced to Roman crucifixion.
In total, three Jewish trials took place followed by three Roman trials, concluding with an appeal to the Jewish people with the consent of a Roman leader. Both Jews and Gentiles were responsible for the call to put Jesus to death.
Further, many laws were broken in the process of the trial according to Jewish legal regulations: 1) No trial was to be held during the Passover week, 2) each member was to vote individually (the Jews voted as a group), 3) the Jews had no authority to execute a person, yet Pilate consented based on their recommendation, 4) trials were not to be held at night, yet Jesus was arrested and tried at night, 5) and a representative was to be given, though Jesus had no one to represent Him.
Ultimately, the trials and death of Jesus were illegal according to earthly laws and a mockery of the perfect, sinless Messiah.
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