Bible Stories for Adults

The Trials of Jesus

Matthew 26:57-27:26

Welcome and Announcements
    Next Week - Jesus Dies and is Buried (Matthew 27:31-61)
    Bible Words to Remember:
      He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Opening Prayer

Pre-Meditated Plans (Matthew 26:3-5)
    How did the Jewish leaders feel about the revelations that Jesus was making?
      Matthew 21:45-46
    Was it just a shared desire to arrest Jesus or was there a united plan?
      Matthew 26:3-4
    Were there any restrictions they gave themselves as they plotted and planned?
      Matthew 26:5

Opportunity Knocks (Matthew 26:14-16, 47-56)
    What opportunity were they given of which they were anxious to take advantage?
      Matthew 26:14-16
    What was significant about the price of 30 pieces of silver?
      Exodus 21:32
    How could they take this help without inciting a riot among the people?
      Matthew 26:30, 47-49
    How did the insider know where Jesus would be?
      Luke 21:37
    Did Jesus resist their efforts to arrest Him?
      Matthew 26:50-54
    Did Jesus recognize their reason for doing this in the middle of the night?
      Matthew 26:55-56

Jewish Trial Laws
    The Sanhedrin - The highest leadership council of the Jews
      70 leaders plus high priest, patterned after 70 elders who helped Moses (Num 11:16-17)
      Power to execute until 30 AD; Death sentence then needed Roman okay (John 18:31)
    Sanhedrin criminal cases required a quorum of 23 and must be held in the Hall of Hewn Stone
      Tried only during daytime, completed during daytime, but never during Passover season
      Guilty verdicts had to be held overnight and pronounced the next day to allow for mercy
      Evidence needed two witnesses examined separately, false witness punishable by death
      Members of Sanhedrin could speak for the accused, but never against
      Couldn't ask or force defendant to answer a question that could incriminate him

The High Priest (John 18:12-14)
    Where was Jesus taken after He was arrested?
      John 18:12-14
    Annas - High priest from 6 to 15 AD
      Considered by Jews as true high priest since appointment was for life by Jewish law
      Found it more profitable to direct the high priest than to be the high priest
        Had Romans appoint his 5 sons, a son-in-law (Caiaphas) & a grandson as HP
        Lived in the palace of the high priest - large building with central courtyard
      Extremely wealthy - Owned famous Bazaars of Annas
        Had monopoly on sale of sacrifice animals & on stalls for money-changers
        Jesus' cleansing of the temple would have been seen as a threat to Annas
        Given great power by Romans because he gave money to key Roman leaders
      Used by later Jewish historians as example of corrupt high priest
    Where else do we see that Annas was still considered to be high priest during Caiaphas' reign?
      Luke 3:2

Religious Trial 1 - Annas (John 18:19-24)
    Was Annas able to get a convictable confession while the Sanhedrin was being gathered?
      John 18:19-21
    How did the officials with Annas feel about the inability to get Jesus to incriminate Himself?
      John 18:22-23
    What did Annas do when it became obvious that he wouldn't get anything out of Jesus?
      John 18:24

Religious Trial 2 - Caiaphas (Matthew 26:57-68)
    Having prepared for months to get rid of Jesus, did the Jewish leaders have a solid case?
      Matthew 26:57-60a
    Was the Sanhedrin ever able to find two people who would agree on incriminating evidence?
      Matthew 26:60b-61
    Had Jesus made such a threat?
      John 2:18-22
    Knowing that the leaders really knew what He had said, how did Jesus respond?
      Matthew 26:62-63a

    Realizing this twisted evidence couldn't hold up before the Romans, what did Caiaphas try?
      Matthew 26:63b
    How did Jesus point out that they already knew and had rejected His answer?
      Luke 22:67-68
    How did Jesus then answer Caiaphas' question even deeper than they expected?
      Matthew 26:64
    How did the Sanhedrin react to Jesus' reply?
      Matthew 26:65-66
    How serious was a charge of blaspheme by calling one's self God?
      Leviticus 24:13-16

Religious Trial 3 - Sanhedrin (Luke 22:63-66)
    What was the next step in trying to give this kangaroo court a semblance of proper justice?
      Luke 22:66
    How did Jesus and His guards pass time while waiting for an official trial at daylight?
      Luke 22:63-65
    Needing a Roman conviction to execute, did they send Jesus to the governor with a few guards?
      Luke 23:1

Pontius Pilate
    Palestine had been divided between Herod's sons when he died (Archelaus, Antipas, Philip)
      Only 18, Archelaus was a bad & ruthless; Rome replaced him with a governor (prefect)
      Matthew 2:22-23
    Pilate was 5th prefect, ruled for 10 years, was from hills outside Rome, Pontius was family name
      Didn't like or understand Jews, Had 3 incidents with Jews before today's story:

    Strike 1 - The Affair of the Roman Standards (Poles with medallions on top instead of flags)
      Prefect headquarters in Caesarea, Visited Palestine towns every year
      Previous prefects removed eagles and Caesar's image before marching into Jerusalem
      On his first visit, Pilate refused to remove graven images (Caesar was a god)
      Jews demonstrated 5 days, Pilate relented after mass surrender by Jews in amphitheater
    Strike 2 - Aqueduct Construction
      Pilate built a much needed aqueduct to bring water to Jerusalem from Bethlehem
      Used funds provided by temple leaders, People resented it and rioted
      Plain clothed soldiers mingled in streets, then attacked mob with swords at a given signal
    Strike 3 - Votive Shields
      Had golden shields made and hung in Herod's Palace in Jerusalem
      Although they had no images, they were engraved with dedications to Caesar Tiberius
      Refused to remove until Jews and Herod Antipas formally protested to Tiberius
      Tiberius scolded Pilate and ordered him to remove shields and to respect Jewish customs
    You're Out! - Samaritan Massacre
      3 years after Jesus, a false prophet promised to uncover sacred vessels hidden by Moses
      Samaritans gathered at Mt. Gerizim to watch, some brought weapons
      Pilate ordered troops to attack and slaughtered the crowd
      Samaritans complained, Pilate ordered to return to Rome, Tiberius died while en-route

Roman Trial 1 - Pontius Pilate (John 18:28-38)
    How quickly did Pilate find out the seriousness of his first case on Passover morning?
      John 18:28-32
    Since Pilate wouldn't care about a charge of blasphemy, what did the Jews charge Jesus with?
      Luke 23:2
    Which of these charges did Pilate feel was serious enough for further investigation?
      John 18:33-37
    How did Jesus respond to the other charges?
      Matthew 27:11-14
    What was Pilate's decision, how was it received and what out did he find?
      Luke 23:4-7

Roman Trial 2 - Herod Antipas (Luke 23:8-12)
    How did Herod feel about this referral by his rival Pilate and how was their relationship affected?
      Luke 23:8, 12
    Did Herod take care of this Jesus situation as Pilate had hoped?
      Luke 23:9-11

Roman Trial 3 - Pontius Pilate (Matthew 27:15-26)
    How did Pilate try a third time to resolve this situation of a mob against an innocent man?
      Luke 23:13-16
    What idea did Pilate have after this was rejected?
      Matthew 27:15-18
    How did this idea work?
      Matthew 27:19-23
    How did the Jews blackmail Pilate into having Jesus executed despite His innocence?
      John 19:12
    Caught between a rock and a hard place, what did Pilate decide to do?
      Matthew 27:24-26

Closing Prayer

Copyright © 1998 by Kurt Rosenhagen

Use of this material is provided free of charge for use in personal or group Bible Study, no permission needed.
The author reserves all rights for use in published material or in uses where fees are involved.
For permission, or to provide your comments, insights and feedback, contact the author at:

Return to Bible Stories for Adults Home Page