Jesus Claims to be “The Christ;” Caiaphas Ponders Death Penalty
(Editor’s Note: This is the fourth of a six-part series written by www.thetentacle.com contributor Norman M. Covert. It was first published in April 2011 at his www.thecovertletter.com, providing a news correspondent's reporting of events unfolding in Jerusalem two millennia ago and mirroring Christianity's remembrance of “Holy Week.” It records the last days of the life of Jesus Christ, providing a perspective, which is not unlike current events in Israel and Jerusalem.)
Jerusalem (April 2) –Avant garde Rabbi Jesus of Nazareth is almost certain now to be facing the death penalty after claiming to be “The Christ,” according to legal analysts in this Judean capital city.
Jesus’ admission came during hearings held today by the powerful Sanhedrin. It has jurisdiction over the Jewish population, which has been wildly receptive of Jesus’ evangelistic crusade.
High Priest Joseph Caiaphas withheld comment on the unofficial guilty verdict shouted at the proceeding and was mum about public accusations that Jesus suffered vicious beatings at the hands of his captors.
The spokesman for Gov. Pontius Pilot referred reporters to the Temple.
The non-binding acclamation seeking the death penalty overshadowed the physical evidence of abuse endured by the prisoner, apparently at the hands of his Hebrew brethren.
Jesus had little reaction to the shouted cries of those calling for his death, some of whom slapped him and spit on him. He was mostly uncooperative, listening with obvious interest to the witnesses, some of whom admitted privately that they were recruited off the street.
His blindfold removed, the Bethlehem-born Jesus displayed visible wounds while seated on the ground at the makeshift, outdoor interrogation site on Temple Mount.
He broke his silence after sitting stoically through much of the intense interrogation procedure. Jesus managed to confound a high priest, who loomed over him and pointed aggressively, shouting, “Are you the Christ, the son of the Blessed One?”
“I am!” Jesus nodded, looking intently at the interrogator. “You shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
“There is your blasphemy,” the high priest shouted, trying to be heard over the noise of the audience jammed in the courtyard. Shredding his tunic, he proclaimed: “We don’t need any more witnesses!”
Officers refused to characterize the ordeal as a trial or interrogation. Instead they said it was a fact-finding investigation. It began a few hours after Jesus’ arrest late last night in the Garden of Gethsemane. A fire was built to warm the long line of potential witnesses, who were greeted by a rooster heralding the sunrise.
Only one of Jesus’ 12 closest companions was seen in the vicinity. However, Simon Peter was heard denying to three persons that he was affiliated with Jesus. He reportedly is Jesus’ closest confidant.
Simon Peter was seen mingling with the crowd as Jesus was brought to the courtyard and stayed to monitor the events. He did not testify.
Reporters still sought to interview Judas Iscariot, who identified Jesus for the officers bearing the indictment last night. He has not been seen since then.
Caiaphas took his prominent seat, but did not interfere as the line of witnesses was grilled by officers and priests. They seemed frustrated by the lack of credible evidence against Jesus. Testimony was inconsistent and at times contradictory during the marathon event.
“I will destroy this temple made with hands,” Jesus said, according to testimony from two sworn witnesses, “and in three days I will build another made without hands.”
Following the testimony, a priest rose and walked toward Jesus, standing over him and shouting, “Don’t you have anything to rebut what these men have testified against you?” Jesus remained silent, but his follow-on claim to be “The Christ” may be the prima facie evidence needed to send a “true bill,” as it were, to Governor Pilot for prosecution.
The Sanhedrin will have to convince the Roman government to accept the case, which appears to be contingent primarily on temple discipline.
Legal analysts agreed that Jesus is facing the death penalty for the real and imagined charges. The Sanhedrin is believed to have sent an emissary to Governor Pilot asking that he accept the case as part of his Friday docket, which includes several accused thieves.
Jesus, who reportedly has not eaten since the Passover Seder last night, was taken inside by guards. The panel of high priests and officers went to their chambers, but the crowd stayed, preserving their seats in anticipation of the Roman court’s decision.
A spokesman said any further official statements would come only after formal disposition of Jesus’ case is determined.