Matthew 26:57-68; 27:1
John 18:12-14; 19-24;
It may be difficult for us to understand why there were men who were against Jesus. Why would someone want to capture Jesus, take him away, and even have him killed? Jesus had taught that we should love God and to treat others with love. At this point, he had thousands of witnesses to his miracles – his power could not be denied. But this power and the thousands of followers were a problem for those men in important positions who wanted to keep their own power.
After the betrayal of Jesus, the men tied Jesus’ hands and took him first to the house of Annas, then to the palace of Caiaphas, the high priest. They had set up a trial with the Sanhedrin council to condemn Jesus to death.
Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas. This family had a long line of authority and power in Judea. They wanted to keep their power.
Caiaphas and his group had been plotting to kill Jesus since the time Jesus began having so many followers. The Jewish rulers feared that the popularity of Jesus would replace them as leaders and leave them without power. These Jewish rulers already had much of their power taken because the entire nation was under Roman rule. The high priest and other Jewish leaders were leaders of the people in the religious laws, but the Romans ruled over them in all other ways. The Romans did not care much about the religious laws of the Jews, as long as their behavior was within the laws of Rome.
The Jewish rulers did not have legal power from the Roman rulers to have anyone put to death, but Caiaphas had a plan that would destroy Jesus and would use the Romans to do it. Caiaphas told people that because Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, the Roman rulers would see that as a claim to David’s throne, defying the rule of Rome, and reason for Rome to destroy their entire nation. He convinced people that Rome would destroy their entire country if Jesus was not killed. Caiaphas said that it was better for one man to die for the people than the entire Jewish nation to be destroyed by the Romans. Caiaphas claimed this was the reason, but his true purpose was more likely to keep his power as high priest, religious ruler of the nation.
When Jesus was brought to the palace of Caiaphas for the trial in front of the Sanhedrin council, they brought many witnesses to lie about what Jesus had taught. The problem with that was that the witnesses did not agree with each other.
One witness said that Jesus had talked of destroying the temple of God and then building another temple without hands in three days.
The high priest and the others were looking for evidence against Jesus that would be enough to put a sentence of death on him.
Caiaphas asked Jesus to explain what he had taught, to see if there might be something there to accuse him. Jesus responded, “I spake openly to the world… in secret have I said nothing. Why askest thou me? Ask them which heard me.”
At this, one of the officers struck Jesus with the palm of his hand. Jesus simply said, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?”
Finally, the Bible tells us that Caiaphas asked him,
“Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?”
But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, “Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”
And Jesus said, “I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”
Now this statement was enough for Caiaphas to claim that Jesus had committed blasphemy. If Jesus said he was God or the Son of God, then this crime in Jewish law would be worthy of a death sentence. Roman law was a separate matter, but Caiaphas’ plan would take care of that.
Then Caiaphas, as a sign of outrage at the supposed crime he had just witnessed, tore his own clothing and said to the group, “What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye?” The group condemned him guilty and declared he should be put to death.
These wicked men determined they had enough reason to take Jesus to their Roman ruler, Pontius Pilate and insist that Jesus be killed.
What do you think?
- Why would Caiaphas and his group of Jewish rulers want Jesus to die?
- Why would anyone want to destroy Jesus?
- Why was Jesus quiet during most of this trial?
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