A Corrupt Court for the Christ
The Christ Brought to the Council
The Sanhedrin was the highest Jewish ruling body in Israel and was granted control by Rome over virtually all internal Jewish matters. It contained seventy members and a president, who was the high priest. The Sanhedrin membership consisted primarily of two groups: (1) the Sadducees, who were the leading priestly families and lay aristocrats, and the Pharisees, who were teachers of the law and (2) middle-class laity, made up the “elders” mentioned in 20:1.
The Council, Corrupt and Confused
In order to understand this reply we should remember that in the thought of the Sanhedrin “the Christ” or Messiah had a nationalistic, highly political, purely earthly meaning. Jesus could never affirm that he was “the Christ” when his hearers were thinking of such a Christ. On the other hand, he could not say no, that he was not “the Christ,” for this would be understood as though he were in no sense the Christ whereas he was the Christ in the true sense of the word. The question itself had, first of all, to be cleared up.
The Christ and His Coronation
Christ Condemned by the Council
The issue is always as it is so decisively worded here at this supreme moment: “Thou, art thou this Son?” That this man Jesus, this bruised, beaten, captive, helpless man who is now in their power, that he should be this Son, very God in human form, is to these Jews a thing that is at once incredible and blasphemous in the highest degree. It was because of this claim of Jesus regarding himself that they had passed the death sentence upon him at the night session.