Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Trial of Jesus Christ and The Last Supper

Mark's Story

Let us begin with the account of purportedly the earliest of the Gospels, that of Mark.   This begins with Chapter 14, verses 43-65, and concludes with Chapter 15, verses 1-15.

The Scene:   Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane with eleven of his disciples.  The twelfth, Judas, appears with a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.

An image of Judas in mould
An image of Judas in mould
Judas tells the arresting officers that whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely.   This Judas does, and Jesus is arrested.  One of those in attendance to Jesus draws a sword and cuts off the ear of one of the arresting officers.  Jesus remonstrates against his captors, but nothing more is said by Mark about the man whose ear was cut off. 

The scene shifts.   Jesus is led away to the High Priest, who is not named.  With the High Priest are the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes.  The first interrogation begins.  Out of sequence, Mark says that the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none.  Then followed the examination of false witnesses.  They found inconsistencies in the accounts of an unspecified number of false witnesses, who said we heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands and within three days I will build another made without hands.  Again, according to Mark, there were inconsistencies in this testimony, but what these were, he does not say.

The High Priest asks Jesus why he does not respond to these witnesses, but Jesus says nothing.   Finally, the High Priest asks Jesus, Art thou the Christ (i.e., the Messiah), the Son of the Blessed?  Jesus responds, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

At this point, Mark reports that the chief priest, in modern parlance, loses it.   He tears his clothes and shouts to his fellow priests What need we any further witnesses?  Ye have heard the blasphemy:  what think ye?  The result is a unanimous verdict by all assembled, condemning Jesus to death.  To reinforce the verdict, they spit upon Jesus, buffet him, and strike him with the palms of their hands.

One can assume from Marks account that this first interview was held at night, immediately after Jesus arrest.   The next morning, the chief priests, the elders, the scribes, and the whole council met, bound Jesus, and transported him to Pilate.

Jesus & Pilate
Jesus & Pilate
The next scene is before Pilate.   Pilate begins by asking Jesus, Art thou the King of the Jews?  Jesus neither admits nor denies it, but simply says, Thou sayest it.  At this point, the chief priests accuse Jesus of a variety of crimes, with Jesus once more not responding.  This baffles Pilate.

Pilate attempts a ploy.   He can, since it is a feast day, release another prisoner if the chief priests so desired.  The multitude cries out for the release of Barabbas, one who was convicted of murder during an insurrection.  Pilate gives them the choice:  Jesus or Barabbas.  The chief priests, inciting the multitude assembled, want Barabbas released.  Pilate asks, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews?  The crowd responds:  Crucify him.  Pilate mildly objects.  Why, what evil hath he done?

Pilate bows to the agitated crowd, releases Barabbas, has Jesus whipped, and delivers him up for crucifixion.

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