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First Stage of Jewish Trial. Examination by Annas.

(Friday Before Dawn.)

D John XVIII. 12–14, 19–23.

d 12 So the band and the chief captain, and the officers of the Jews, seized Jesus and bound him, 13 and led him to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. [For confusion in the priesthood, etc., see pp. 64 and 528.] 14 Now Caiaphas was he that gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people. [See p. 528. John restates this fact to remind the reader that Jesus was about to be tried by those who had prejudged him and decided upon his death.] 19 The high priest therefore asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his teaching. [We should note that John calls Annas high priest. The high priesthood was a life office. According to Moses, Annas was high priest, but the Romans had given the office to Caiaphas, so that Annas was high priest de jure, but Caiaphas was so de facto. As high priest, therefore, and as head of the Sadducean party, the people looked to Annas before Caiaphas, taking Jesus to him first. The influence of Annas is shown by the fact that he made five of his son and sons-in-law high priests. Annas is said to have been about sixty years old at this time. He questioned Jesus for the purpose of obtaining, if possible, some material out of which to frame an accusation.] 20 Jesus answered him, I have spoken openly to the world; I ever taught in synagogues, and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and in secret spake I nothing. 21 Why askest thou me? Ask them that have heard me, what I spake unto them: behold, these know the things which I said. [Jesus indeed spoke some things privately (Matt. xiii. 10, 11), but he did not do so for 695the purposes of concealment (Matt. x. 27). Jesus was the light of the world; addressing his teachings to all flesh, he chose the most public places to utter them—places, however, dedicated to the worship of the true God. He who had said that heaven and earth would pass away, but that his word would not pass away, did not suffer his teaching to be held in contempt; he did not permit it to be made matter for cross examination. On the contrary, it was to be taken cognizance of among the things universally known and understood. The very officers who had arrested him could tell about it—John vii. 45, 46.] 22 And when he had said this, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? 23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me? [Jesus was then under arrest, and as the trial had not yet opened there was ample time to add new matter to the charges against him. If, in addressing the high priest, he had just spoken words worthy of punishment, the officer who struck him should, instead, have preferred charges against him and had him punished in a legal manner. If the officer could not do this (and the point is that he could not), he was doubly wrong in striking him. Thus the Lord calmly rebuked the wrong-doer. Compare his conduct with that of Paul under somewhat similar circumstances (Acts xxiii. 1–3). Jesus exemplified his teaching at Matt. v. 39. “Christ,” says Luther, “forbids self-defense with the hand, not with the tongue.”] 696

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