Mark 15:3

Then the chief priests brought a number of charges against him.

to be wrong in one instance
is to be wrong in all circumstances
every little misstep dominoes
we all fall down
unable to be put back
together again

thankfully we set wrong right
in the clearest possible terms
just say no just say yes
you’ve been carefully taught
umpteen ruling guidelines
to protect all concerned

There is really only one charge against Jesus—sedition, fomenting insurrection against Rome.

This sentence is one of the reasons Mark has never been accused of being an elegant writer. Literally translated it reads, “They asked [demanded] of him, the chief priests many things [or much].”

The “many things” or charges might better be understood that the chief priests brought the most persuasive case they could. This approach is based on an adverbial usage of πολλά (polla, much, strongly, insistently).

The trick for the chief priests was transforming their own religious judgment against Jesus for “blasphemy” into a political charge that would carry a death penalty. Whether that was done with a multitude of smaller accusations or one big one takes a back seat to the continuation of “false witness”—this time by the chief priests.

In today’s world, we might think about “moral injury” that leaders often fall prey to as they find themselves having to “protect” an institution by suppressing their own conscience, eventually taking on the weakest aspect of the institution they represent.

We can remember the number of attempts that had been made before Jesus’ arrest to find something they could hold against him. The first surfacing of this animus was in 2:6 when muttering began about a healing of a paralyzed man brought by his friends in terms of “He’s insulting G*D”, or blasphemy. This escalated into particular direct questions intended to trap Jesus: divorce (10:1–9), authority (11:27–33), taxes (12:13–17), resurrection (12:18–27), David (12:35–40). Eventually, by turning “child-of-G*D” into “G*D” a determination was made that Jesus had committed blasphemy.

All of this lies behind Pilate’s evaluation of how to rile the various forces against one another. In the end both Pilate and the Chief Priests understand they are serving their respective institutions.