Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate. Mark 15, verse 1.
You have to start early in the morning if you want to make a full day out of something. Wanna catch the big fish while they’re biting? Gotta get to the lake early in the morning, before they feed. Want to finish a bunch of Saturday chores? Get up and get going early. Want to put in extra hours on the job? You guessed it: up and at ‘em already.
So it was with the Sanhedrin, the ruling Jewish council. They’d been up all night, conspiring and working out this little charade for Jesus’ mock trial. When Judas came to them with his idea of how to betray Jesus, they probably convened a quiet emergency meeting to decide what to do about it. It took planning, scheming, communicating to make the arrangements so that all would be ready when Judas gave the signal.
That Thursday night, the Sanhedrin, like Jesus, probably stayed up all night. They weren’t sure just when Judas would show up, so they met, ate and drank together, and walked through their plan. It wouldn’t do to have anything go south, so they rehearsed who would say what and what they would say. I bet they practiced their lines, talked about the best ways to box Jesus into rhetorical corners. When Judas showed up and said that his Master would be vulnerable in the garden just outside the city walls, they put their plans into motion. Summon the guards; pay off the gullible; lie to save face.
A few hours later, the guards bring a tired but determined Jesus to meet with the council and they begin to interrogate Him. The plan is unfolding as expected except for one small detail. Jesus won’t play along. He doesn’t answer their questions; He doesn’t meet their scolding, their threats, their violence with the reactions that were predicted. Jesus says nothing, doesn’t act out. Indeed, His countenance looks like He’s not even angry with His accusers. Jesus looks like He actually feels sad for them, that He feels worse for how THEY feel that for what they are doing to Him.
This only makes them furious.
Their plan now thwarted, the Sanhedrin elders move to Plan B. If Jesus won’t talk to them, He’ll definitely talk to the Roman governor. The goal in this unfolding end-game is for Jesus to die. The priests know they don’t have that kind of muscle, that only the Roman overseers can order the death of a Judean. Even though He has done nothing to physically intimidate them, they tie up Jesus as if He’s some kind of physical threat, and then they (literally) drag Him off to the governor’s palace. There, they believe, Pontius Pilate will extract from this ‘Messiah’ the proof needed to sentence Him to death.
That is, of course, if Pilate agrees to cooperate. That is, you know, if Jesus decides to talk. Was there a Plan C if Plan B failed?
When you’re conspiring against the King, you need to get up very early in the morning. Even then, things might not turn out the way you expect.
Lord Jesus, have mercy still on those who conspired against You. Forgive them and me for our sins.
Read Mark 15, verses 1-15.