The Emotional Suffering of Jesus

“Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.” – John 13:27,28

Much has been written about the physical suffering of Jesus. I would like to focus on the emotional aspects of his suffering so that we might understand and hopefully help to comfort those who are dealing with these types of trials.
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Learning Obedience from Suffering

Harry Osborne

The book of Hebrews clearly shows the correlation between suffering and the learning of obedience. The writer declares that Christ was perfected as the author of salvation through sufferings (Heb. 2:10) and that he “learned obedience by the things which he suffered” (Heb. 5:9). The writer exhorts the readers to follow Jesus’ example in chapter 12. He urges them to be perfected in righteousness as they face growing affliction (Heb. 12:1-13).

While the experience of human suffering is universal, the lessons learned from it are not. Whether young or old, rich or poor, righteous or wicked, all of us experience suffering. The reaction we have to such experiences determines whether or not we learn obedience through the things suffered. The same episode may result in a determination furthering obedience or a discouragement furthering rejection of God’s will. The difference in reactions is not brought about by dissimilar events, but by dissimilar hearts.

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The Deeds of Dorcas

At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room.And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them.Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. – Acts 9:36 – 40

Why Dorcas?

I believe this to be one of the more interesting side stories recorded in the book Of Acts. This is the only mention of this lowly disciple who was a servant of the kingdom of God through her service to this local church. She did not meet the standards of what the prominent men of her society would consider to be great or even noteworthy. The only two mentions of her contribution were Luke’s mention of “full of good works and charitable deeds” and the evidence from those grieving over her death of the tunics and garments which she had made.

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The Resurrection Appearance

by Mike Willis

The events of the previous twenty-four hours had been incredible to the disciples. Following the observance of the Passover, they had accompanied Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane. There Judas brought the soldiers who arrested Jesus. From there he was taken for trial to Annas (Jn. 18:13), Caiaphas (Jn. 18:13) for a private investigation and then with the scribes and elders gathered (Matt. 26:57). At this trial, Jesus was condemned to die. The Sanhedrin reconvened early the next morning to ratify the judgment of the previous night (Lk. 22:66). Afterwards he was taken for examination before Pilate, Herod, and then again before Pilate where sentence was given that Jesus be crucified.

Jesus was taken to Golgotha where he was crucified. In shocked amazement, the disciples witnessed the death of the one whom they supposed would be the Messiah. No doubt they shared the contemporary idea that he would become king of Israel and overthrow the Roman government dominating them. Those hopes were dashed.

In a state of shock, the disciples left others to take care of Jesus’ dead body and departed from Golgotha. The next day was the Sabbath, so little or no activity occurred on that day. No doubt their broken hearts were trying to mend as they tried to pull together their shattered hopes. The following morning, Sunday morning, would forever change their lives.

The Body Is Missing (Matt. 28:1-10; Mk. 16:1-11; Lk. 23:56-24:12; Jn. 20:1-18)

The women who had followed Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus to see where they buried Jesus (Jn. 19:38-42) prepared spices to anoint his dead body. Early on Sunday morning, when the sun was risen, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna and Salome went to the tomb. There was a great earthquake. An angel descended from heaven and rolled away the stone. Those who were guarding the tomb became as dead men. When the woman arrived, the angel announced, “Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which hath been crucified. He is not here; for he is risen, as he said. . . . And go quickly, and tell his disciples, He is risen from the dead; and lo, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him” (Matt. 28:57).

Mary Magdalene (Jn. 20:1-2) ran and told Simon Peter that the soldiers had removed Jesus’ body and she did not know where they had taken him. Peter and John ran to the tomb. They found the tomb empty; the burial garments were there but the body was missing.

Jesus’ Appearance To Mary Magdalene (Matt. 28:9-10; Mk. 16:9-11; Jn. 20:11-18)

Mary Magdalene stood outside the tomb weeping. When she stooped to look inside, she saw two angels who asked her why she was weeping. She explained that she was weeping because they had taken away the body of Jesus. When she turned around, Jesus was there. Supposing him to be the gardener, she asked where they had taken Jesus’ body. Jesus said, “Mary.” Recognizing his voice, she replied, “Master.” Apparently the other women were also present (Matt. 28:9). They fell at Jesus’ feet and clung to him. Jesus told them to turn loose for he must ascend to his father. He told them to go tell the disciples that he was ascending unto the father. When the women reported what they had seen, the disciples did not believe it (Mk. 16:11).

Report of the Guard (Matt. 28:11-15)

The Roman soldiers went to the chief priests and reported what had occurred. The Sanhedrin assembled. They bribed the soldiers not to tell what had happened but to report that Jesus’ disciples had stolen the body while they were asleep.

Appearance to Simon Peter (Lk. 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5)

Sometime during the day, Jesus appeared to Simon Peter. Reference is made to this appearance but the circumstances of it are not recorded.

Appearance to Two on the Road to Emmaus (Mk. 16:12-13; Lk. 24:13-35)

Later that day, two disciples (one named Cleopas) were traveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus. While they were talking about the events which had transpired, Jesus joined them. “But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.” As Jesus inquired of the disciples, they related the circumstances of his death, the disappearance of the body, and the words of the angels announcing the resurrection. Jesus began teaching the two as they traveled, opening their minds that they might understand the Scriptures. As they drew near the village, they asked Jesus to abide with them and he consented. As they sat to eat, their eyes were opened so that they recognized Jesus. He vanished out of their sight. They immediately returned to Jerusalem and told the eleven disciples, who had gathered together, what had happened.

Appearance To The Eleven In Jerusalem (Mk. 16:14; Lk. 24:3642; Jn. 20:19-25)

At the end of this same Sunday, the eleven (with Thomas absent) assembled together, probably to discuss the events which had transpired. The doors were locked for fear of the Jews. Suddenly Jesus appeared to them. They were afraid, supposing him to be a ghost. Jesus said, “Why are ye troubled? And wherefore do reasonings arise in your heart? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye behold me having.” Their hearts could barely comprehend what had occurred. While they were still stunned, Jesus took a piece of broiled fish and ate it.

A spirit of joy filled the disciples. When Thomas arrived, he refused to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead. He said, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and putray finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Appearance To The Eleven (Jn. 20:26-29)

The following Sunday, the eleven were again assembled together with Thomas among them. The doors were locked. Jesus appeared to them and said, “Peace be unto you.” Speaking to Thomas, he said, “Reach hither thy finger, and see my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and put it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.” Thomas replied, “My Lord and my God.” Jesus said, “Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

Appearance to Seven Disciples By The Sea of Galilee (Jn. 21:1-24)

Enough time transpired for the disciples to return to Galilee from Jerusalem. They tried to sort through the things which had transpired. Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James, John and two other disciples decided to go fishing – to return to their jobs. They fished all night and caught nothing. When day began to break, Jesus stood on the beach but the disciples. did not recognize him. He asked if they had caught anything and they replied that they had not. He said, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and ye shall find.” They did what he said and could not draw in the fish for the catch was so large.

John said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” Peter put on some clothes and jumped into the sea to see Jesus. The other disciples came ashore in the boat dragging out the 153 fish which they had caught. Jesus ate with them.

Appearance to the Eleven on a Mountain in Galilee (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-18)

On another occasion Jesus appeared to the disciples on a mountain. Perhaps this is the reference mentioned in I Corinthians 15:6 where 500 were gathered. If so, he separated the eleven and gave them the Great Commission. “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned.”

Appearance to James (1 Cor. 15:7)

Paul referred to an appearance to James, the brother of the Lord. The circumstances of this appearance are not mentioned. However its impact is shown by the fact that the brother of Jesus who previously did not believe on him Qn. 7:5) became one of the leaders in the church at Jerusalem.

Jesus’ Final Appearance to the Twelve and Ascension (Lk. 24:44-53; Acts 1:1-11)

Jesus appeared to his disciples again in Jerusalem and instructed them to tarry in the city until they were clothed with power from on high. They walked with him out of Jerusalem toward Bethany until he came to the Mount of Olives. After he finished speaking, he ascended out of their sight into heaven to await his second coming. This appearance occurred 40 days after his resurrection (Acts 1:3).

Jesus’ Appearance to Paul (Acts 9,22,26)

The final appearance of Jesus was to the infamous persecutor of the church, Saul of Tarsus. Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus. From seeing the resurrected Jesus, Saul became convinced that Jesus was the Lord and Christ. He obeyed the gospel and devoted himself to preaching it to the world. He became known as the apostle Paul.


These are the resurrection appearances of Jesus. With these facts before us, let us make these conclusions.

1. The Lord’s resurrection was a bodily resurrection, a miracle. There is no doubt that the text states that the body which was crucified died, was buried, and was raised from the dead. Nothing but a miracle, the miracle of the resurrection of the body, can explain the meaning of the text. The physically resurrected body was seen by more than 500 people. The historical record stands unimpeachable. The resurrection of Jesus is not some myth invented by delusioned men; it is a fact of history.

2. The resurrection confirmed the deity of Jesus. Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:4). His resurrection proved that he was both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36). The resurrection demonstrated that his claims were not the claims of an impostor.

3. The resurrection of Jesus demonstrates his victory over sin and death (Rom. 4:25; 5:10). Jesus entered into the domain of Satan, the house of the strong man, and spoiled his goods (Matt. 12:29). His resurrection proves that he triumphed over the devil, destroyed the power of sin and the grave.

4. The resurrection assures me that Jesus ever lives to make intercession for me (Heb. 7:25). His resurrection confirms that he has ascended to the right hand of God and serves as an Advocate to the Father in behalf of his children (1 Jn. 2:2).

5. The resurrection of Jesus assures me of my resurrection. There can be no doubt that Jesus is the resurrection and the life (Jn. 11:25); this was not only demonstrated by his power to raise Lazarus, the son of the widow of Nain, and Jairus’ daughter, but also by his own resurrection. Jesus was raised as the first fruits of them that sleep (1 Cor. 15:20). “In Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). He is my guarantee that my natural body which is sown in corruption, dishonor, and weakness will be raised as a spiritual body in incorruption, glory, and power (1 Cor. 15:42-44). Consequently, I can sing, “Death is swallowed up in victory. 0 death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory.”

“We look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Phil. 3:20-21).


The knowledge that Jesus was raised transformed that small band of disciples who witnessed his death. Their cowardness was changed to boldness; their weakness to strength; their doubt to assurance; their despair to hope. After that little band which met in a room behind locked doors became convinced of the resurrection, they boldly preached the gospel of Jesus Christ at the Temple, defying the threats of Jewish authorities. They were convinced that their fate was better to die preaching Christ than to live in disobedience to him.

Belief in the resurrection has also changed me. My belief that Jesus died on the cross for the remission of my sins and was raised from the dead on the third day moved me to obey his command to “repent and be baptized for the remission of my sins” (Acts 2:38). His word has caused me to cast aside the old man of sin and to put on the new man created in his likeness. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). “Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:20-21).

Consequently, I anticipate seeing Jesus “whom not having seen I love.” My life is filled with confident expectation because that grave was empty, because the Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. Praise God for he is risen!

Guardian of Truth XXXI: 20, pp. 632-634
October 15, 1987


by Mike Willis

From ancient times, man has believed in life after death. When God created man, he placed him in the Garden of Eden with access to the tree of life (Gen. 2:9). Because of sin, Adam and Eve lost access to the tree of life which enabled them to live forever (Gen. 3:22). Ever since that time, man has lived in hope of regaining the paradise which he lost through sin.

Evidences of the hope of eternal life are seen in many cultures. The American Indians believed in a “happy hunting ground.” The ancient Egyptian pharaohs displayed their belief in life after death in the building of their pyramids which housed things they might need in life beyond death. The publishing of “after death” experiences of those who have “come back from the dead” shows that our modern world longs for information about life beyond death.

These subjective experiences can never replace what revelation has spoken about life after death. Jesus, who was raised from the dead, speaks authoritatively about life after death. He points us to the resurrection.

What Happens to Man at Death?

The Scriptures reveal that at death the body goes back to the dust from which it came and the spirit goes back to God who gave it (Eccl. 12:7). Jesus revealed the nature of the habitation of the immortal spirits of the dead in his discussion of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk. 16:19-31). The dead go to a place called hades (translated “hell” in the AV in Lk. 16:23). Hades is separated into two compartments: (a) Torment, the place of the wicked dead, is a place of anguish and suffering (Lk. 16:23-24); (b) Abraham’s bosom, the place of the righteous dead, is a place of comfort (Lk. 16:25). The two places are separated by a great gulf which makes crossing from one place to another impossible. Hence, the righteous cannot “fall from grace” after death nor can the wicked be saved.

Paul expressed his yearning to go home to be with God at the hour of his death in passages such as Philippians 1:21-24 and 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10. He understood that death is the gateway to the presence of God. Properly viewed, death can be a blessing to man; it takes him from a world of suffering (Lk. 16:23-24); (b) Abraham’s bosom, the place of the righteous dead, is a place of comfort.

What Shall Be Raised From the dead?

The Scriptures direct our hope to the resurrection. What shall be raised from the dead? Not the spirit, for the spirit does not die. That which shall be raised from the dead is that which dies – the body.

Men asked, “How shall the dead be raised” (1 Cor. 15:35). Perhaps they were thinking of the various things which can happen to the body. A body may be eaten by animals, burned in a fire, blown to bits in an explosion (as in the Challenger disaster), drowned in a sea and eaten by fish, or decay in a tomb. Men asked, “How shall the dead be raised?” How shall the various parts of the body be reassembled when the body has gone back to dust and may have blown a thousands different directions?

Paul reminds the Corinthians that the resurrection from the dead is not without analogy in nature. Even a seed does not produce a living plant except that it first die (1 Cor. 15:34-37). And the plant which grows from the quickened seed does not resemble the seed which was planted. If God is able to produce this natural event, he also will be able to raise the dead body of man. He is the Almighty God.

What Kind of Body?

What kind of body will man have? The answer is this: one fitted for eternal habitation. God has prepared a body fitted to every kind of life: he has prepared a body fitted for those birds which fly in the heavens, a body fitted for the animals of the sea, a body fitted for the various animals which is adapted to their peculiar habitations (1 Cor. 15:38-42). The same Lord is able to prepare a body fitted for heavenly dwelling.

The simplest answer to “what kind of body will man have at resurrection?” is this: the same kind of body which the resurrected Jesus had. Paul said, “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Phil. 3:20-21). However, in teaching the nature of the resurrected body, Paul wrote, “It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Cor. 15:42-43).

Just as surely as man has a natural body, he also will have a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:44).

Man’s physical body cannot inherit heaven (1 Cor. 15:50). Consequently, those who are alive at the moment that Jesus returns to this earth will experience a change in their body. Paul wrote, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:51-54).

Who Shall Be Raised?

The resurrection shall not be confined to the righteous. Instead, both the wicked and the righteous shall be raised from the dead (Jn. 5:29; Acts 24:15). The wicked shall be raised to face eternal damnation; the righteous shall be raised to eternal life.

Jesus Christ: The Guarantor of the Resurrection

What assurance do I have that man shall be raised from the dead? Jesus Christ is the guarantee. He is the “first fruits of them that slept” (1 Cor. 15:20). Thayer explains the image of Jesus as the first fruits: “Here the phrase seems also to signify that by his case the future resurrection of Christians is guaranteed; because the first-fruits forerun and are, as it were, a pledge and promise of the rest of the harvest” (p. 55). Even as God has given assurance that he will judge the world in righteousness by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, so also the resurrection is our proof that we too shall be raised from the dead (Acts 17:30-31). “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:21-22). When the dead are raised, Jesus will have destroyed his last enemy (1 Cor. 15:26).

Consequences of the Resurrection

Belief in the resurrection should effect how we live. Rejection of the resurrection surely effects how the wicked live. The wicked push out of their minds the idea that God will raise them from the dead and call them to account for their wickedness; they say, “God hath forgotten: he hideth his face” (Psa. 10:4-11). If there is no resurrection of the dead, men may as well live the hedonistic lifestyle. Even Paul exclaimed, “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us cat and drink for tomorrow we die'” (1 Cor. 15:32, RSV).

In contrast to the wicked, the righteous believe in the resurrection and judgment. This effects how they live. Paul exhorted, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). Peter exhorted that, since we look for a new heavens and new earth, “what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness” (2 Pet. 3:11-14). Belief in the resurrection motivates one to godly living.

Belief in the resurrection provides comfort in the hour of death. Christians do not mourn in the face of death like those who have no hope. Paul expressed this faith as follows:

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thess. 4:1318).

The sting of death is removed by the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:54-56).


Each person shall live forever in a resurrected body. That body will either be in an place of everlasting torment or everlasting bliss. Every individual has control of his own eternal destiny. Where shall you live eternally?

Guardian of Truth XXXV: 2, pp. 34, 42
January 17, 1991

The Crucifixion of Jesus

Mike Willis

Capital punishment is still practiced in America and that in compliance with the revealed will of God. The Lord revealed, “Whosoever sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man” (Gen. 9:6). Executing murderers in American society is done in as painless a manner as men can devise, and that without regard to how much suffering the criminal caused his victim. We use lethal injection, the electric chair, hanging, and the firing squad. All of these methods of executing a criminal result in virtually instant death and relatively little pain to the one put to death.

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Did The Jews Kill Jesus?

Harold Fite

In the Houston Chronicle, Saturday, May 23, 1997, under the heading, “Roman Catholics Reassess Biblical Portrayal of Christ,” Julia Duin wrote of the efforts of the Roman Catholic Church to absolve the Jews of responsibility in the death of Christ.

To believe that the Jews crucified Christ is to be accused by them of anti-Semitism. The Catholics are feeling the pressure, and for the past several years have been withdrawing statements from Catholic textbooks that could be construed as anti-Semitic.

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The Trial Of Jesus

by Roy Cogdill

There has been more recorded in the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John concerning the trial of Christ than has been recorded of any other event even including his cruicifixion. Two full chapters in each book are given to this story. It had been predicted by the prophets, and foretold by the Lord himself that he should be tried and rejected of men. The predictions and the prophecies concerning his trial and rejection by the rulers of the Jews became reality. The gospel records preserve for us the inspired account of that event.

From a legal point of view this trial represented the greatest miscarriage of justice and the greatest hoax that has ever been perpetrated against any person in all history. It was fraudulent from start to finish, illegal at almost every point and on every possible count. It was anything but a trial in which justice was in view in the desire of those conducting it. Jesus had incurred the enmity of the Jews for many different reasons. He had openly and positively condemned their sins. They did not like that any more than people like it today. They wanted to get him out of the way because of his exposure of their hypocrisy and ungodliness. He refused to adapt himself to their social conventions and religious traditions. Rather than recognize the class system of narrow bigotry which had been erected by the Jews, Jesus came into the world to seek and save the sinner; he associated freely with sinful people while here. He antagonized the Jews not only by refusing to yield to their social standards, but by violating their traditional religious prejudices as well. He based every stand that he took and every lesson that he taught on the will of God — not on the authority of men. God’s will was his governor and his guide in all things. We hear him say, “For I am come down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” (John 6:38.) This the Jews could not stand. They hated and despised him because he steadfastly refused to yield himself to their political plans, establishing an earthly kingdom and throwing off the yoke of Rome.

They were perfectly willing to make him king if only he would liberate them from the hated Romans. But instead of submitting to their plans, adapting himself to their program of political endeavor, he steadfastly adhered to the plan God had made — that he might come into the world and die for the redemption of humanity, that he might make possible the salvation of the souls of men and women.

This was why they crucified him. It had become fully obvious to them that he was adamant in his refusal to become their political leader. When he refused the crown (John 6:15). they were filled with rage. From that time forward they tried repeatedly to destroy him. They tried once to take him out and cast him off the cliff that he might fall to the rocks below and be killed. But Jesus had delivered himself from them. On various other occasions they had sought him for the purpose of doing him harm or injury, or disposing of him completely. But Jesus’ time had not yet come; and he patiently continued his ministry until the hour was fulfilled. When finally the hour came, he meekly submitted himself to their arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, commanding Peter to put up his sword. He knew the hour was near in which he should die for the redemption of the race, according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.

After submitting to the motley throng of palace guards and fanatical Jews who had sought him out, he marched with the howling mob to the judgment hall of the High Priest and the Sanhedrin Council, the supreme court of the Jews. There he was tried in every way that a man should not be tried, in utter violation and disregard of their law, condemned to death illegally, and finally executed. It is of some of the particular illegalities of that trial that we want to study, and then will see what spiritual application such things ought to have to the life and heart of every man.

Jewish Government

No one can understand what took place during Jesus’ trial without some knowledge of the background of Jewish law and government against which the trial occurred. In Palestine at that time a two-fold government was in operation — a Jewish government and a Roman government. They had a vestige of the old Jewish theocracy still in existence. Most of its power, however, had been stripped from it by the conquering Romans. The conquerors had set up the land of Judaea as a protectorate, or as a Roman province. Pilate, the Roman governor, had received his office from Tiberius Caesar, and was the chief authority in the land. Certain rights and privileges the Jews were allowed to retain. They could go through the form of a trial on a capital offense, for example, but having found the prisoner guilty, could not execute him without first going to the Roman governor and obtaining his authority and permission. The Jewish courts could try a man and impose sentence, but were powerless to execute the sentence assessed.

Annas was the High Priest of the Jews at the time Jesus was tried; but he had been deposed from his office for the very reason that he had tried to impose the death penalty on another occasion, and the Romans had appointed his son-in-law, Caiaphas, to be High Priest in his stead. From this incident it seems clear that the Romans had pretty well deprived the Jews of any real authority or power. They had a form of legally constituted authority, but it was a form with little power.

In the Jewish system of courts which remained, however, there were three kinds of tribunals. There was a three-judge court, which was the lowest and most elementary form of government; this corresponded roughly to our local Justice of the Peace courts, or to our municipal courts today. Next above this lowest court, there existed in many of the cities, and wherever the people desired and approved it, a Junior Sanhedrin Council which consisted of twenty-three judges. Then over and above these courts was the senior or major Sanhedrin Council, consisting of 71 judges. Qualifications for men of the senior Sanhedrin were exactly prescribed by law. Jewish law provided for these three separate kinds of courts, and they existed and commonly tried cases within their respective jurisdictions.

In any study of the trial of Jesus it must be remembered that it had two parts or two phases — a Jewish part and a Roman part. In the Jewish phase of his trial, Jesus was first arrested and taken to Annas; then he was tried before Caiaphas, and then by the Sanhedrin Council of the Jews in two sessions, a night session and a morning session. This consummated the trial of the Son of God at the hands of the Jews. Being sentenced to death, he then began the Roman phase of his trial. He was taken first to Pilate. Pilate examined him, and sent him to Herod. He was tried by Herod, and returned to Pilate. Again Pilate examined him, and then turned him over to the mob, weakly trying to exonerate himself of blame by the symbolic act of washing his hands. So, while there were two phases or parts to the trial, there were in reality six separate trials: before Annas, Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin; and before Pilate. Herod, and Pilate again.

Jewish Law

There were a number of sources from which law came then, just as a number of sources fix our law today. If one were to examine the source of law in our generation, he would find that in many states law is statutory primarily. For example, Louisiana is recognized in our nation as being the state in which we find the most complete example of statutory law. But according to the old English common law, not every statute had to be enacted by a legislative body. Much of. the body of the English law, in contrast with Roman law, was derived from the decision of the courts, rather than from legislative enactments. And when a decision of the courts had not been made to guide in the trial of a given case, then customary practice was given authority. Customary practice ran according to this rule: In the absence of a statute, and in the absence of the decision of a court, if a thing had been customarily practiced over such a long period of time that the memory of man ran not to the contrary (nobody could remember when such was not the practice), then this customary practice became the rule and the law to govern in the decision of that particular case.

The Roman practice, however, was to codify their law; and everything had to be provided for in statute. While the State of Louisiana is the principal statutory state in the nation, the State of Tennessee is recognized as the principle common law state among us. Texas is a combination of both statutory and common law.

Just as we receive our laws today from these various sources, the laws in the time of Christ, both Jewish and Roman, were likewise gathered over the centuries from various sources. Particularly was this true of Jewish law. Among the Jews, they first of all went back to the statutes that had been given in the law of Moses, and in the prophets and the Psalms. The law that had been thus delivered was recognized as the primary source of authority. But to that original and primary statutory law there had been added the traditions of the elders, and a vast bulk of oral law, delivered by word of mouth from one generation to the next. From generation to generation these traditions had been handed down, and had received such respect and honor from the Jews that many Jews thought that Moses. in addition to the written law had actually delivered by word of mouth a great body of oral law!

When, therefore, we study the trial of Jesus, we must remember that not all the “law” that was violated by his persecutors is to be found in the statutory law; much of it is in the traditions of the elders and in the common practice established by the courts. It is this great bulk of law, from all sources, that we find the Jews so ruthlessly ignoring and over-riding in their frenzied effort to destroy their prisoner. In three or four articles to follow, we want to point out some of the most obvious and glaring of these illegal procedures and actions.

Gospel Guardian Vol X:10 Jan. 1958