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.

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