Lesson 114: Jesus in the High Priest's Court
Matt 26:57-58, Mark 14:51-54, Luke 22:54-62, John 18:12-18
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome! This is lesson #114. Let's spend just a moment in review. At the end of our last lesson which we entitled the arrest of Jesus; Jesus was being led away from the garden area by a band of temple officers, i.e. the levitical police, so-to-speak. With that mob were EVEN SCME chief priests and elders, we learned in Luke 22; 52. As Jesus was led away, the eleven apostles fled into the night. I trust you remember the Jewish calendar was based upon a lunar classification system in the which all Jewish months began on a new moon. The passover week being from the 14th to 21st of Nisan was in the middle of the month and therefore during the time of a full moon. So, it should not have been an extremely dark night as Jesus' apostles fled, every man to his own, i.e. as sheep that are scattered when the shepherd is smitten, as Jesus had pre-described it; taking his reference from Zechariah 13:7. Mark simply said, "they laid their hands on him, [i.e. Jesus] and took him..." (Mark 14:46). But, we shall soon learn that they BOUND JESUS before they led him back down the Mt. of Olives, across Cedron creek and into the quarters of the high priest. Mark tosses in a couple verses here that gives us a little insight into the scuffles that must have taken place when the apostles made a break for it and fled into the night. I speak of Mark 14:51. If you will please turn there, we'll read v.51-52. This person is not identified. Who do you think it was? Let's read, beginning in Mark 14:51. "And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: and he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked." As I said, this gives us a little insight into the little fracas that must have taken place in the shadow of those torches and lanterns as Jesus' disciples fled from the mob. Some think this is a little private joke that Mark is relating on himself. I'm not quite sold that, that's the premise of Mark's point. I'll simply leave it with you as a thought. It would appear that John Mark was a nephew to Barnabas which we read about later in the book of Acts. We learn this in Col. 4:10. But, in the 12th chapter of Acts, and down about the 12th verse we learn that John Mark's mother, whose name was Mary, owned a large home in Jerusalem. Some theorize that the upper room Jesus used for the passover was an upper story of Mary’s house and John Mark, being a young man at that time, followed Jesus and the apostle to Gethsemane that night. John Mark was not an apostle, I trust you remember. If such should be the case, that Mark (the writer of this book) is telling this on himself, this is the only shred of a hint we have concerning it. It's interesting indeed that Mark is the only writer to relate this little incident. But, it takes a pretty strong stretch of the imagination to identify the young man with mark, also. So, as I said, I'll leave it with you.
Let's go to John ch. 18. We're going to read three verses in John ch. 18 where John gives us a little quickie overview of the mob's trip back into Jerusalem that night. The verses are v. 12-13-14. Let's read beginning in John 18:12. "Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, and led him away to Annas first; for he was father-in-law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people." Alright, take just a minute to get Annas and Caiaphas straightened out in your mind; because, we're going to be talking about them a good bit. Luke in ch. 3:2, referred to both Annas and Caiaphas as high priests; and Luke put an "S" on the word "priests" making it plural. But, actually there was only one or could be only one rightful high priest according to the Law of Moses. Aaron, the brother of Moses was the first high priest, you will remember and the office was thereinafter an inherited office. There were a lot of strict rules given in Lev. 21:16-24. However, at the time of Jesus the Jews were far removed from strictly following the Law of Moses in this respect. This stemmed principally from their own civil war about a century before and the pressures of Roman domination. Remember, the Romans were ultimately in control, politically speaking, at the time of Jesus. It seems that Annas had been the high priest a couple decades earlier. Now, whether Annas became the rightful high priest, and had rightly inherited the office, I do not know. But, one of the Rowan governors or procurators had for some reason or another had a quarrel with Annas and simply demoted Annas and appointed Annas' son-in-law, named Joseph Caiaphas, to take Annas' place. That had nothing to do with the Law of Moses, I trust you understand. It was a pure political move on the part of the Romans. Many of the Jews, perhaps most, still looked upon Annas as the scriptural high priest. But, when it came to Roman matters, Caiaphas was the official high priest. So, apparently the two men worked together as best they could, being son-in-law and father-in-law as John points out here in v.13. John says, "the band...led him [i.e. Jesus] to Annas first." Thus, John is saying Jesus was brought before both Annas and Caiaphas, in that order. Then in v.14, John reminds us that it was Caiaphas, the son-in-law, that had already pre-judged Jesus back in John 11:50 and said, "it is expedient for us, that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not." Thus, you see, Jesus' death had been pre-decided several weeks before, by the council. At the moment we're reading about here in John, Caiaphas and the council were simply on a fishing expedition trying to catch something that they could use to make their scheme look legitimate, i.e. make it politically acceptable so they could get by with it without being stoned by the Jewish common people.
O.K. we now proceed to that section which is usually referred to as the trial of Jesus. I don't want to be unkind to those who use that heading, but, THAT is a misnomer. Jesus did not receive a trial! The word murder would be a much better heading than a trial. Jesus was arrested illegally in the middle of the night with NOT EVEN a warrant. No formal charges were EVER brought against Him. Actually, one might say Jesus was captured instead of arrested. There was no justice, absolutely none! It was all a sham from beginning to finish. Now, it's hard for the average person today, withstanding all the warped and twisted idiosyncrasies of our society and legal system; to grasp the way it was with Jesus. It seems only natural to think? well, there must have been another side to the coin that doesn't show on the surface. For that reason, some unwittingly try to uphold Judas, Annas, Caiaphas, Pilate the Council and all those who had a hand in murdering Jesus. There is a tendency to think; they must have had SOME moral basis for their decision and actions in putting Christ to death. When one tries to give the picture plain, simple, unvarnished and straight from the book; they think, well you're either biased or inadequately informed. Like I said, it's hard, it's difficult, to get people to believe the facts about Jesus as it really happened. Caiaphas had argued weeks before that it was EXPEDIENT for Jesus to die (John 11:50). He didn't argue on the basis of JUSTICE, he made no pretense of justice, Caiaphas had decided on the basis of expediency in his own biased, warped, and self-righteous way of thinking, that Jesus should die. We obviously cannot go into all the legal ramifications of the so-called trial of Jesus in this study. Time does not permit. If you have a. hankering to approach it from the legal point of view; I would suggest you read a book called The Illegal Trial of Jesus that came out a few years ago written by a man named Earle L. Wingo, spelled W-I-N-G-0. Mr. Wingo had been a criminal lawyer for more than 32 years when he wrote that book and he had defended more than two hundred persons who had been charged with murder. He is one of the past presidents of the Mississippi Bar Association. Mr. Wingo also wrote a text book used in some Law Schools called Mississippi Criminal Law and Procedure. The reason I tell you all of this is, that Mr. Wingo after 32 years of law practice made a study of the legal ramifications of the trial of Jesus; that section of the N.T. we're studying right now. This is his conclusion: ( I quote from Wingo) "I can say, without reservations, that, except for the trials of Jesus, there has never been, nor shall there ever be, in the annals of criminal jurisprudence, a more tragic and deliberate disregard for existing laws and rules of equitable procedures. Indeed, there was never a trial so filled with conspiracies, animosities and base corruption as the one which involved Him!" (Unquote). So, in the book of Hebrews, ch. 4:15, when it says that Jesus "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin", you better sit up and listen. If you think YOU got a raw deal some place or another and you're being discriminated against in this way or that *way; forget it! Jesus suffered more than you and I can even imagine. As I said, there was absolutely no justice.
Murder was common place in the days of Jesus. Annas and Caiaphas were the big political bosses of the Jewish people. They were Sadducee by religion according to Acts 5:17. Annas and Caiaphas DID MOT believe in life after death. They openly and flagrantly showed contempt for those who did. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead it was witnessed by scores of reputable Jews who soon published what they had seen far and wide. The implications of Lazarus coming back from the dead had been somewhat of a reflection and embarrassment to Annas and his religion. This caused him to be one of the bitterest enemies of Jesus. Annas and the chief priests were so enraged over the implications about life after death they even considered putting Lazarus to death also. We learned that back in John 12:10. It is said that Annas was very rich. Most of his wealth had been obtained through the licensing and chicanery connected with the money changers and the sellers of merchandise in an around the temple from which he got a percentage. Thus, you can see the implications to Annas when Jesus went about cleansing the temple that Monday morning. It was no coincidence that when that mob came back from Mt. Olivet with Jesus bound that night that Annas was waiting for them and they brought Jesus to Annas first. You see while most of the people in Jerusalem who had taken the Passover that night were sleeping; Annas and Caiaphas were trying to get it over with before most of the people learned about it the next day. They remembered the triumphal entry of Jesus on that last Sunday morning when he came over Mt. Olivet on the colt and thousands singing, "Hosanna in the highest." Caiaphas was the presiding officer over the great Sanhedrin court; the highest tribunal of the Jews permitted by the Romans, i.e. even the Sanhedrin met with Roman permission, you see. So,Caiaphas and the Roman governor, Pilate, at that time were reported to be very close friends.
Let's read some more. Let's read John 18:15-18. Do you still have your finger on it? John ch. 18, beginning in ¥.15, let's read. "And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest; and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter. Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one of this man's disciples? He saith, I am not. And the servants and the officers stood there, who made a fire of coals, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself." O.K. that disciple that known to the high priest was John the writer of this book. How, when and why John was known to the high priest; I don't know. It may mean that John simply walked in with Jesus as Jesus' friend and to be with Jesus at the so-called trial. But, undoubtedly, Peter's fracas with the sword back on Mt. Olivet and the cutting off of Malchus' ear must have put Peter in a more defensive frame of mind. But, John went to the door and persuaded the door keeper to let Peter into the castle. But, apparently Peter did not stay close by Jesus as apparently John did. As someone has said, Peter warmed himself with the enemies' fire.
Let's take a couple more verses from Matthew. It's v. 57-58 in Matt. ch. 26, that I want. We won't get into the dialogue of Annas and Caiaphas just yet; let's try to finish setting the stage, so-to-speak. Are you ready, we're going to read beginning in Matt. 26:57-58. "And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end." O.K. we learn here that the scribes and elders were assembled, i.e. they were waiting on the mob to bring Jesus. The time must have been well past midnight by then. Peter followed afar off, that's another good sermon title. Peter and John both came in side; but, Peter sat with the servants, "to see the end." Malchus was a servant of the high priest; wonder if he was there. What about Judas, did he come back with the mob? Where did he sit? This may have been the same room of the palace where Judas had met with the council on Tuesday evening.
Let's take a couple of verses from Mark. It's Mark 14:53-54. Have you got it? Beginning in Mark 14:53, let's read. "And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes, And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire." O.K. very much a re-play of Matthew. Let's go to Luke. We're going to begin in Luke 22:54-62. If you're ready; let's read. Beginning in Luke 22:54. "Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off. And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him. And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not. And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him; for he is a Galilean. And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out , and wept bitterly." 0. K. count'em-up, Luke gives three times Peter denied Jesus. There is nothing in the world harder to deal with than peer pressure. Have you ever experienced it? They put the squeeze on Peter. Enjoy your day! We'll get back to what Annas said to Jesus in our next Lesson.