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Second Stage of Jewish Trial. Jesus Condemned by Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin.

(Palace of Caiaphas. Friday.)

A Matt. XXVI. 57, 59–68; B Mark XIV. 53, 55–65; C Luke XXII. 54, 63–65; D John XVIII. 24.

d 24 Annas therefore sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest. [Foiled in his attempted examination of Jesus, Annas sends him to trial.] b and there come together with him all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes. a 57 And they that had taken Jesus led him away to the house of Caiaphas the high priest, c and brought him into the high priest's house. a where the scribes and the elders were gathered together. [It is very likely that Annas had apartments in the same palace with Caiaphas, and that from these apartments Jesus was led into some hall large enough to hold the Sanhedrin, which was now convened. But this was not its formal session as a court; it was more in the nature of a caucus, or committee of the whole.] b 55 Now the chief priests and the whole council sought a false witness against Jesus, b to { a that they might} put him to death; 60 and they found it not, though many false witnesses came. b 56 For many bare false witness against him, and their witness agreed not together. a But afterward came b 57 And there stood up certain, a two, b and bare false witness against him, a 61 and said, { b saying,} a This man said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. b 58 We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands. 59 And not even so did their witness agree together. [What Jesus 697had really said will be found at John ii. 19–22. Though his words were misunderstood at that time, being applied, not to his body, but to Herod's temple, yet it is not unlikely that the Jewish rulers, hearing our Lord's prediction that he would rise from the dead after three days (Matt. xxvii. 62, 63), came to understand the import of his words. If so, the record itself shows the willingness of the Sanhedrin to receive false witnesses against Christ, for its judges received testimony which they knew to be utterly immaterial if rightly construed. The accounts of the two Evangelists, moreover, show how the witnesses failed to agree. A man could only be condemned on the testimony of two witnesses as to some fact or facts constituting a ground for condemnation—Deut. xvii. 6; xix. 15 .] a 62 And the high priest stood up, b in the midst, and asked Jesus, a and said unto him, { b saying,} Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? a 63 But Jesus held his peace. b and answered nothing. [While the testimony then before the court might be used to show that Jesus was recklessly boastful, it was insufficient to justify a sentence of blasphemy. A threat to destroy the temple might be thus construed (Jer. xxvi. 9–11; Acts vi. 13, 14); but a promise to rebuild the temple, if destroyed, was altogether different. The high priest, knowing this, sought to extort from Jesus some additional evidence. With great cunning and effrontery he assumes that the testimony is all that could be possibly desired, and demands of Jesus what he has to say in answer to it. But our Lord did not suffer himself to seem so easily deceived. He gave no explanation, since the future would explain his meaning, and speak the real truth to all who had ears to hear it.] a And b Again the high priest asked him, and saith { a said} unto him, b Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? a I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou art the Christ, the Son of God. [Seeing that Jesus was not to be lured into an answer, and well knowing his perfect frankness, Caiaphas resolved, in his desperation, to question Jesus plainly and 698bluntly. His question is twofold: 1. Art thou Christ? 2. Art thou the Son of God? The latter of these would constitute blasphemy, and the former, by showing a boastful spirit, would tend to confirm the charge. Perhaps, too, Caiaphas anticipated the future, and foresaw how useful this claim to be the Messiah would prove when a hearing was had before Pilate (Luke xxiii. 2). Originally the Messiah was recognized as the Son of God (Ps. ii. 7), but if the Jews had ever generally entertained such an idea, they had lost it before Jesus' day, The Messiah might of course be called the Son of God in that secondary sense in which Adam was thus called (John i. 49; Luke iii. 38). But Jesus had used the term in an entirely different sense, and his usage had been extremely offensive to the Jews (John v. 17, 18; x. 30–39; Matt. xxii. 41–46). Caiaphas evidently wished Jesus to answer this question in that new sense which the Lord had given to the words. Caiaphas had no legal right to ask either of these questions. No man can be compelled to testify against himself, but he knew the claims of Jesus, and realized that if Jesus repudiated them he would be shamed forever, and if he asserted them he could be charged with blasphemy. Taking advantage, therefore, of the situation, Caiaphas put the question with the usual formula of an oath, thus adding moral power to it, for, under ordinary circumstances, one was held guilty if he refused to answer when thus adjured ( Lev. v. 1). When their own witnesses failed, these rulers called the “faithful witness”—I. Tim. vi. 13; Rev. i. 5.] b 62 And Jesus said, { a saith} unto him, Thou hast said: b I am: and a nevertheless I say unto you, Henceforth ye shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on { b with} the clouds of heaven. [Jesus freely confessed the truth which his church is called upon to confess. “Right hand of Power” was commonly understood to mean the right hand of God. By the words “nevertheless” and “henceforth” Jesus brings the present state of humiliation into contrast with his future state of glory. Hard as it might be for them to believe it, the day would come when he should 699sit in judgment and they should stand on trial before him.] 63 And a 65 Then the high priest rent his garments, { b clothes,} and saith, { a saying,} He hath spoken blasphemy: what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard the blasphemy: 66 what think ye? [Though Jesus had given the very answer which the high priest was longing to hear, yet he hypocritically pretends to be shocked at it, and rends his clothes and feigns horror. Evidently he feared the effect of the clear, calm answer of Jesus and sought to counteract its influence on his colleagues.] They answered and said, He is worthy of death. b And they all condemned him to be worthy of death. [This was not the final, formal sentence, but the mere determination of the council at the preliminary hearing.] c 63 And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and beat him. b 65 And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, a 67 Then did they spit in his face and buffet him: c 64 And they blindfolded him, a and some smote him with the palms of their hands, 68 saying, { b and [began] to say unto him,} a Prophesy unto us, thou Christ: who is he that struck thee? b and the officers received him with blows of their hands. c 65 And many other things spake they against him, reviling him. [To spit in the face has been an insult in all ages and in all lands. See Num. xii. 14; Deut. xxv. 9; Job xxx. 10. Jesus, having stood out for examination, is now given back to the officers to be led away into the council chamber. These officers received Jesus with many indignities. They seek to make his high claims contemptible, and to make it appear that instead of being divine he is hardly worthy to be regarded as human.] 700

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