Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death.Matthew 26:59(NASB)
There were many reasons that Christ's trial was illegal. Not only were the charges against Jesus false and the Mosaic law broken repeatedly, the hearing that took place before the high priest, and members of the Sanhedrin, was riddled with inconsistencies and illegalities. The trial of Jesus was a travesty of justice.
Indeed, the innocence of Christ and the way He conducted Himself in spirit and in truth, stood in stark contrast with the illegal charges, the criminal conspiracy, and the corrupt proceedings of the Sanhedrin. This was an illegitimate trial that took place in a forbidden setting at an unlawful time. Christ's nighttime arrest and His secret trial in the dead of night were two of the many things that blatantly broke Jewish law.
Jesus had just eaten the Passover supper with His disciples, washed their feet, and predicted Peter's denial before the crowing of the cock at daybreak. He had prayed a passionate prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and submitted His human will to the will of the Father's. Jesus had received the treacherous kiss from Judas.. the disciple who betrayed Him, and was arrested in the dead of night. He was led away for trial, to the high priest.. for all the priests, elders, and scribes who had plotted His arrest, were anxious to condemn Him to death.
In their eagerness to condemn the Lord Jesus as a criminal and have Him executed, the high priest and members of the Jewish Sanhedrin conducted an unholy trial, and broke the Mosaic Law countless times, in order to secure their guilty verdict and pass the death sentence on this innocent Man - the very Man Who had come to save them from their sin, through His own sacrificial death.
The Law demanded the testimony from two witnesses to condemn a criminal, and so "the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimonies against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death." There were many false witnesses who were hurriedly assembled to spew out their verbal poison against the innocent Son of God, but their accusations conflicted with each other.
However, they managed to find two who gave the same, inaccurate testimony of what Jesus said.. "I am able to destroy this temple and rebuild it in three days." Israel considered the destruction of God's House to be a capital offense - which provided the excuse needed to have Him killed. Jesus however was not speaking of the actual, physical Temple, as the witnesses implied. He was speaking, metaphorically, of His Own Body as the Temple of God.
The Temple was the place where men met with God, to atone for their sins, and Christ's broken body and shed blood was to be the Temple, through Whom fallen men could be reconciled back to a Holy God. Similarly, Jesus did not say that HE would destroy the Temple... but that THEY would carry this heinous crime. "Destroy this Temple!", had been His challenge to the religious leaders - "and in three days time I will raise it up. Kill this body of Mine," was the challenge from the sinless Son of God to these evil men, "and in three days I will rise from the dead." As the eternal, deathless Son of God, He would raise Himself up from the dead, having won the victory over sin, Satan, death, and hell - for ALL who believe on His name.
Despite the many false accusations, blatant lies, and inconsistent testimonies against Him, Jesus kept silent and did not open His mouth. As prophesied of old, He had been led as a lamb to the slaughter and stood before His accusers in the centre of this farcical trial, and yet He held His peace and refused to respond to the fabricated 'evidence'.
Jesus could have answered every false accusation magnificently and called on many to testify of His deity, including His Father in heaven, Who identified Jesus as His beloved Son. Jesus could have cited masses of evidence from Old Testament prophecies that had already been fulfilled through Him. These fools reverenced the Scriptures without realising that the Man in their midst was the fulfilment of all the Law and the prophets.
Jesus could have called down fire from heaven and had legions of angels swarm into the house of the high priest and strike him and his co-conspirators dead, had He been so inclined - but Jesus held His peace and said not a word. May we follow in His footsteps and do only those things that honour His name.
Heavenly Father, as I consider the abuse that the Lord Jesus had to suffer at the hands of His enemies, to pay the price for my sin, and the sin of the whole world, I am filled with awe and wonder, thanksgiving, and praise for all that He has done for me. Help me to follow in His gracious footsteps and know that the final judgement of sinful men is Your responsibility. Give me grace to stand firm in the truth of the gospel and open the eyes of many who remain deceived to the truth. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.