Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Christ on Trial: by Schilder, Klaas; Zylstra, Henry (translator)

This is the second volume of Schilders Lenten trilogy. I have read volumes one and three already.

1. Christ being led to Annas.

The divine judge is now bound and appears before human judges. Christ chooses to surrender his freedom and submit to the judgement of men. First he goes before the spiritual judge for the civil authority, Rome, had delegated religious judging to the Jews. Annas was no longer high priest. It was his son in law Caiphas who could summon the Sanhedrin but that would take time. Annas had been high priest 6-15 AD appointed by Quirinius. Removed by Valetius 15-26 who replaced him with Ishmael, the Eleazar then Simon. Finally Ciaphas was appointed. Perhaps Annas lived with Ciaphas. He would be interested in the Nazarene and his unofficial examination , though with no official standing, could help Ciaphas. Annas was the father of a whole dynasty of high priests. he was a Sadducee and would have relished time unofficially with the man who caused such trouble stirring the people with his denunciation of priestly hypocrisy. Annas headed a contemporary dynasty of Aaronic priest, an office to pass away. Jesus, priest after the order of Melchizedek was to continue for ever as our great high priest.

2. Christ's apology before Annas

It is likely that both Annas and Ciaphas question Jesus in what is a preliminary hearing before the Sanhedrin assembles. First Annas asks about Jesus disciples before asking about his teaching. How many followers? How big a threat to established authority? Had he been secretly gathering other followers and having some esoteric secret teaching for them? Jesus replies that he taught openly in temple and synagogue so Annas knows there is no secret teaching no hidden band of followers. The high priests see Jesus as a threat to the established order and their places in it. They fear a revolutionary messiah. Jesus says to ask the witnesses as to his reaching. Nothing is hidden. There is no revolutionary plot. As per Is 27 Christ's revelation was sealed from the learned Annas and the ordinary people could not read the signs either. Ask the witnesses Jesus says. He has nothing to hide but neither people nor priests believe in him as true messiah.

3. Christ condemns the vicious circle. 

At this point due process would have been to call witnesses yet there is unwarranted violence from a servant who had no legal authority whatsoever. Jesus was hit for showing lack of respect in the view of the assailant. But this court refused to hear the evidence before it and call the witnesses to any subversion by Jesus. Jesus is assumed guilty before the trial. He is treated as outside the law - an outlaw. He who gave the law will not be tried according to law. Annas looked at the externals, Jesus teaching and disciples. he was blind as to who he was, the hidden messiah. The vicious circle is rejection of God's lawgiver and his law. Ecclesiastes, last OT book shows what life is like on this basis. Annas fails to see the special revelation about the messiah. He goes on what is under the sun, his own senses. As a result rational law degenerates into unwarranted violence.

4. The vicious circle condemns Christ

Jesus is now taken before the whole Sanhedrin. The assembly meets in the Palace of Caiaphas because  the gate of the hill of the temple was closed at night they could not meet in the official assembly hall. Witnesses said they heard a Jesus say he would destroy the temple and build another without hands in three days. He was speaking in a riddle solvable only to those enlightened by the Spirit. The riddle, like a parable, is revealed to those with faith in Christ and hidden from those who reject him.

5. Christ standing mute before the Sanhedrin.

Before the greatest religious tribunal the one who is the greatest prophet is silent. The Lamb of God before his shearers is dumb. Passive obedience of Christ . He could answer but would not for he was a willing sacrifice. If he had answered and explained then God's purpose might not be accomplished and the resurrection appear like a magic trick.

6. Christ standing mute before the Sanhedrin

Now his obedience does from passive to active as he answers the last great Sanhedrin session. It was no longer supreme after the temple veil was torn. Caiaphas wanted Jesus to testify on oath as to whether he is Messiah. False witnesses failed to incriminate him. Now he is to testify himself. The Jews used oaths abundantly in everyday speech hence Jesus prohibition of them in his sermon on the mount.

7. Christ vanquishing the vicious circle as the Son of Man

Christ now affirms he is the son of God, the Messiah for he identities himself with Dan 7, the Son of man, a human coming from heaven to establish his eternal kingdom after four great empires fall. He clearly states who he is, Messiah.

8. Christ sentenced to death by His people

Blasphemy was a capital crime among the Jews. Christ affirmed he was Messiah and the Sanhedrin would afterwards recognise it. The high priest was not to show the grief of mourning in the event of death but was to do so, rending his garments, in the case of blasphemy. Caiaphas rent his garments not his heart for he was glad to have an admission of blasphemy from Jesus.

9. Christ being mocked upon the prophetic mountain

After a dearth sentence passed a court should behave with dignity not mockery. Christ is outlaw again. He prophesied as to when a cock would crow - the height of his prophetic office. But here he is mocked by the Sanhedrin as a fortune teller blindfolded. He is made an outlaw. But when God mocks as in Ps 2 he does it with the force of his law.He knew who struck him. Ultimately it was God striking Him bearing our sin.

10. Christ being isolated a second time

Preachers often now move from Christ's suffering to Peter's denial. But our subject is the passion and here we again see Christ's isolation. Peter swears with an oath that he never knew Jesus. Christ is truly alone. But he is still the mediator and speaks to Peter with a look. See how providence controls even a cock's crowing.

11. Christ led back to the house of bondage

We do not know why the Sanhedrin reassembled but they had to send Jesus to the civil authority for the death sentence they wanted. Sending Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor, was Israel going back to Egypt. They preferred slavery to Rome to going ahead with Messiah.

14.Christ confronted by the dead Judas

Judas regrets were expressed to men, not repentance before God. His rejection of Christ and death is the start of the same for physical Israel. Two men entered God's presence with Christ, Judas and the repentant their. One had had every opportunity to believe but did not. One in a brief encounter believed. Compare Judas betrayal of Christ to Ahitophel's of David. There is the similarity of betrayal by a close friend but Ahitophel had a grievance against David that was different to Judas' case. David had seduced bis granddaughter Bathsheba. Ahitophel betrayed a guilty king. Judas betrayed innocent blood. Both men rejected the grace of God in his appointed king.

15. Christ's blood accepting a memorial in Jerusalem. 

The first part of the Jew's inheritance in the land was Abraham buying a field to bury his wife. He was still a wandering Jew. Now that is what the Jews were to become again. They refused to accept blood money. Nothing tainted in the worship of God. They perpetuate the dividing wall of hostility to gentiles which Christ will soon break down.

16. Christ being thrust outside the sphere of Mosaic law

Christ outlawed from the ceremonial law. The Sanhedrin must not be defiled. Christ can be. Yet this is not in Moses' law but a scribal addition as to ceremonial uncleanness.

17. Christ being raised above the sphere of Mosaic law.

The Jews could not pass a capital verdict, only the Romans. Their method, crucifixion, would fulfil Jesus prophecy of being lifted up. If the charge was mere blasphemy it would not attract a Roman death only Jewish stoning. So for crucifixion the Jews accused Jesus of sedition. Christ was to be held up telling the manner of death, seen by all the world and exalted to glory.

18. Christ accused upon the royal mountain.

Having convicted on a charge of blasphemy they bring a different charge, being a king and telling people not to pay tax.

19. Christ's apology for his kingdom.

Christ says his kingship is based on knowing the truth not feeling the power of the state.

20. Christ being negated on the royal and prophetic mountain

Pilate asked what is truth. But here the question should have been what is justice.

21. Christ being silent before Pilate

Silence was submission to God's will for a defence would have diverted away from the cross.

23. Christ before Herod: Israel before Esau

Herod the Idumean was descended from Edom/Esau.As Jacob the elect one with the birthright appeared before Esau limping, so Christ the hidden elect king appears before Esau.

24. Christ being silent before Herod and mocked in the vale of martyrs.

Herod had killed John the baptist and feared Jesus was John returned ti haunt him. He had been troubled in his conscience and had sent a message that Jesus was in danger before. Now he saw no threat only a bound prisoner. He wanted a sign but for the third time Jesus was silent before his interrogators. The temptation for a miracle to save himself first came from Satan in the wilderness. Herod getting no answer resorts to mockery.

25. Christ Jesus completely outlawed.

Pilate had hoped Herod would deal with Jesus but he was non-committal. Now Pilate was in a dilemma as he had found no fault in Jesus. So to please the Jews he ordered him chastised. This would also lower his prestige among the people and once again he was outside the law. Never convicted under any law he was under God's curse.

26. Christ the outlaw and his forgotten chapter.

The Jews have denied his prophetic and kingly offices. Here they deny his priestly one preferring their own priests. Christ is the Joshua priest king prophesied by Zechariah. The custom of releasing a prisoner was only at the Passover feast and is not recorded in Jewish records. It is linked to freedom for slaves from Egypt and the one released became a hero.

27. Christ and Barrabas

A choice between an outlaw who was innocent and a convicted murderer. Barabbas name may have been Jesus/Joshua too. It was a choice between different ways of revolution, violence or suffering.

28. Christ is pleaded for and travestied

Pilate's wife, Claudia, is thought to have become a Christian later. She was concerned to save her husband trouble.

29. Christ's blood esteemed as less than that of Abel

The choice was Barabbas, line of Cain, murderer, and like of Abel innocently murdered.Pilate washing his hands was more in line with Mosaic law than Roman custom but of course he was no innocent. He had abdicated his responsibility to give a just verdict. The Jews esteemed Jeus' blood worthless. It would not cry for vengeance.

30. Christ's blood shed by human agency.

Before he shed his own blood in the agony of Gethsemane. Now cruel scourging rears the flesh exposing the bone.

31.Christ caricatured by the world

Mocked is if he is but a pretend king.

32. Christ condemned

Did Pilate make a final appeal so he could spare Jesus. It did not work. He was reminded of his place by the otherwise silent saviour.

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