And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none.
The world, in its best moods, exalts justice; and, in its worst moods, defeats it. Everything depends on the mood for the time being. Multitudes on the first day of Holy Week strewed the way with their clothes for their king to ride over; it was their mood. Only five days later a mob, bearing lanterns and torches, sought Him as if He were a thief, and led Him a prisoner over that same highway. The mood had changed. Mob law prevailed.
I. THE TRIBUNAL. No gathering of star chamber was ever more lawless.
1. The law decreed that no court should sit before sunrise; this trial followed immediately upon the midnight arrest — while Jerusalem was asleep.
2. The law required that anyone accused should have an advocate; here the Nazarene stood alone, with none to question in His behalf.
3. The law demanded that witnesses should be summoned for every prisoner; here no one was called to testify.
4. The judge of that court was Caiaphas, who had already declared the necessity of the death of Jesus, in order that the factions of the people might be harmonized.
5. Like a travesty reads the record: "The chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put Him to death." Their aim was to establish guilt, not to find justice.
6. It was the law that no sentences of death should be passed upon the same day as the trial; yet, in spite of their subterfuge, declaring the sentence of death just after sunrise, it was on the same day, since the Jewish day began at evening.
II. THE INDICTMENT. Full of flaws. Hopelessly confused. Even the testimony of bribed witnesses was too inconsistent to be of any use. The only seeming ground for a charge was a distortion of a saying in His earlier ministry concerning the destruction of the temple which He called His body, but which they declared was the pride of Jerusalem; but even this was no crime, as even His judges knew. Their case had failed. Their miserable charges were not sustained.
III. THE PRISONER. The one sinless Person among men. No enemy has ever found a flaw in His pure character. No charge, even of haste or imprudence, has ever been preferred. By His greatness and goodness, He throws all other human attainments into obscurity.
1. The best character is no protection against human hatred. The higher the character the more isolated it stands. The treatment accorded the Master will be meted out to His disciples. Persecution for righteousness' sake is a natural outcome of being righteous.
2. The best character does not always command friendship in the time of trial. It is not an infallible mark of piety to be always surrounded with friends.
IV. THE SENTENCE. Death, that cry of assassins; death, cold and cruel, blanching in a moment the ruddiest face; death, the breaking down of human life; death, the guardian of the cross; this was the word they hissed out — "He is guilty of death." To beckon such a death the laws of Moses and of the Romans were torn to shreds; mockery clothed itself in ermine; Pilate washed his guilty hands; and priests and rabble shouted themselves hoarse.
(David O. Mears.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none.
WEB: Now the chief priests and the whole council sought witnesses against Jesus to put him to death, and found none.