Lesson 115: Annas / Caiaphas / The Council
Matt 26:59-75, Mark 14:55-72, Luke 22:63-71, John 18:19-27
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome to lesson # 115. We learned that Jesus was first brought to Annas who was waiting for him. Let's take a minute to talk about the steps or stages of development during that Thursday night and Friday morning. The passover began soon after sundown on Thursday evening which they reckoned as the beginning of Friday. It must have been something between 10:00 and 11:00 PM, the way we keep time, that Jesus and the disciples sang the hymn and Jesus prayed the prayer in John ch. 17. Then they walked out of the city, across the Cedron creek and on to the garden of Gethsemane where they must have spent at least an hour. Jesus prayed and the apostles slept. By the time Judas arrived with the band that came to arrest Jesus; it must have been after midnight. They bound Jesus and took him first to Annas. Now that's about where we got to in our last lesson. Through all this the four writers interweave the story of Peter’s denial. Each writer is individualistic in his weaving skill; but all the writers use essentially the same threads. Now, let's do a preview of coming attractions and review the steps or stages of development through the rest of the night and the next morning. Stage one was in the house of Annas. After questioning Jesus briefly Annas sent Jesus bound unto Caiaphas where stage two took place. Annas and Caiaphas were undoubtedly in the same building. Several Sanhedrin members had collected at Caiaphas1 house waiting to interrogate Jesus, i.e. help with the scam. Then, stage three, the council was called together to deliberate along about daylight. From the council, stage four, Jesus was taken to Pilate, the Roman governor. Then stage five, Pilate sent Jesus to Antipater Herod, who just happened to be in the city of Jerusalem for the passover. Stage six, Antipater sent Jesus back to Pilate. Pilate finally gave in, stage seven, and sent Jesus to be crucified.
You can see it's going to take a while for us to work our way through all this; but, let's begin by reading in the book of John, ch. 18 again, with Jesus before Annas, the old man, the father-in-law. Stage one, we're going to begin in v.19. Have you got it? John 18:19. We'll take'er down to v.27. Are you ready, v.19. "The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I even taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said. And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me? Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest. And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not. One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him? Peter then denied again; and immediately the cock crew." O.K. that's from the pen of John, who you will remember went back and got Peter through the door. Did you notice that Annas started asking questions about Jesus' doctrine and about his disciples. But, Jesus refused to be cross examined by Annas. Jesus knew that Annas was groping for straws to incriminate Jesus in the eyes of Annas. It is an age old principle that one cannot be required to testify against themselves. So, Jesus refused to answer Annas's questions. Jesus assured Annas he had said nothing in secret; then he told Annas to go interrogate those that had heard Jesus teach. The officer standing by saw an opportunity to interpret that as back-talk to the high priest and he slapped Jesus. But, Jesus told the guard that if he had spoken evil to the high priest to show in what manner it was evil. So, the bottom line was that Annas couldn't draw Jesus into a debate as he had hoped. Thus, Annas, perhaps knowing that Caiaphas and some of the Sanhedrin members were waiting and that Caiaphas would be the one dealing with the Romans; Annas sent Jesus on to Caiaphas. Since, the Sanhedrin was operated by permission of the Romans; it's my understanding that it would have been Caiaphas and the Council that would have conducted the official trial, if Jesus had been legally charged with a crime; which he wasn't. In v.25-26-27, John weaves in a little more about Peter's denial, which material was covered by Luke in our last lesson. So, let's read some more. Let's back up to Matthew who picked up his discussion with Jesus already before Caiaphas and some of the council members. It follows our last reading in Matt. ch. 26. The verse where we start is v.59. Can you find that? We'll read through the end of ch. 26. Are you ready, beginning in v.59.
"Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; but found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. the last came two false witnesses, and said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days. And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, he hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee? Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all saying, I know not what thou sayest. And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly."
I trust that you noticed that both Annas and Caiaphas have been referred to as "the high priest" by our writers; thus, it's a little hard to distinguish the activity of Annas from the activity of Caiaphas, at times. But, in the material we just read, Jesus was before Caiaphas and part of the council members. This was not an official session of the council. It was the fishing expedition, as I called it before. Can you imagine such harassment? You see, Caiaphas and the council had decided weeks before they were going to murder Jesus (John ch. 11). All they were looking for, on this occasion, was a smoke screen they could hide behind to cover the smoking gun and to keep from being seen in the act by the common people. This is said very plainly in v.59, they "sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death." V.60 says in effect, there were MANY there who were willing to lie to accomplish that end; but, none of them could concoct a story that would hold together in the eyes of the Roman governor and ultimately in the eyes of the people. You see, the council could not make the final decision because the Jewish council was operated by permission of the Romans and the Romans did not extend to the council the powers of capital punishment, i.e. they could not put any one to death. The Romans reserved that right to themselves; so, the only way they could get Jesus killed and make it look legal was to persuade the Roman governor, Pilate to kill Jesus. So, what they were looking for among these lying witnesses was a falsehood sufficient to convince the governor to kill Jesus. Pilate, by Roman law, held the powers of life and death, conferred upon him by the Roman Senate. Finally, after they had been foiled by many attempts (v.60), two of the false witnesses said, "This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days." This was a perversion of what Jesus had said at the temple during that first passover after Jesus began his ministry, in AD 30. I'm talking about John 2:19; when the Jews were demanding a sign. John said back there in the next verse, "he spake of the temple of his body." In other words, Jesus told them that one sure sign was that he would die, be put in the tomb three days, and the third day he would rise again. When they saw that happen, it would be definite proof that he was the Christ. It's the same thought that Jesus used on another occasion, when the Jews demanded a sign; Jesus said, "there shall no sign be given...but the sign of the prophet Jonah." (Matt. 12:39). But, here in Matt. 26:61, the false witnesses were perverting Jesus' words, you see. They were saying in v.61 that JESUS had threatened to destroy the temple, that sacred house in Jerusalem. But, in John 2:19, it reads, "Jesus answered and said unto them, "Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up." You see, Jesus said they would do the destroying. But, in this verse (Matt. 26:61) they were saying Jesus would do the destroying. I remember when we covered that verse in John ch. 2, I told you to hold on to it, it would come up again. Not only here, but it comes up again in Acts 6:14 as an accusation to kill the young Christian, Stephen, who was no doubt simply explaining what Jesus had said. So, you see, if somebody doesn't like something and they are devilish enough; they will pervert your words to your destruction. And, earlier that night Jesus had said to the apostles in the upper room, "If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you..." (John 15:20). You see, it's a principle we need to be aware. Did you get a good grip on that little hypocritical show that Caiaphas (the chairman of the Sanhedrin) put on there before the group? He tore his clothing in anger and demanded of Jesus, I demand of you under oath, Are you the Christ? (I'm paraphrasing v.63). In v.64, Jesus said: "Thou have said." In other words, Jesus was saying, You said it! You said it right! Then Jesus added to that, "Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." That was a warning to Caiaphas, that one day Caiaphas would stand in Judgment before Jesus, the Christ. How would Caiaphas see Jesus? "coming in the clouds of heaven." I think we talked about Jesus coming in the clouds once before, when we were discussing Matt. 24:30. In other words, that's the same way that all of us are going to see Jesus one of these days. Take the time to read Rev. 1:7. After Jesus answered Caiaphas, while Caiaphas was still tearing his clothing; Caiaphas said that Jesus' answer was "Blasphemy." And he asked the members of the council for their opinion in v.66. They responded that "He is guilty of death." Notice that the verdict and sentence was reached only 30 seconds after they discovered the charge of "Blasphemy." To blaspheme means to speak evil of God and of course that charge was not true. Jesus had NOT spoken evil of God, because Jesus was the Son of God. Thus, it was a false charge, through and through, and they knew it. Then v.67 and 68, I'll let you read, how they began to abuse Jesus. I trust you know the story of Peter’sdenial by now, v.69-75; so let's read some more. We're going to get Mark's account, Mark 14:55-72. The rest of Mark ch. 14. Please turn there! We're going to begin our reading in Mark 14:55. Let's read.
"And the chief priests and all the council sought for witnesses against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together. And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him saying, We heard him say, I .will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. But neither so did their witness agree together. And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, 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. Then the high priest rent his clothes, and said, What need we any further witness? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death. And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands. And as Peter was beneath in the Palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: and when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also was with Jesus of nazareth. But he denied, saying, Iknow not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew. And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them. And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilean, and thy speech agreeth thereto. But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak. And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept." O.K. we may have learned a new fact or two there; but, let's read the rest of Luke ch. 22. We'll be begin in Luke 22:63 and read the rest of the chapter. Are you ready? Starting in v.63 of Luke ch. 22", "And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him. And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee? And many other things blasphemously spake they against him. And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying, Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe: And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go. Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God. Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth." Alright, a hasty meeting was called of the council about daylight while all Jerusalem was sleeping. And of course not all 71 council members were present; probably just those invited. But a quorum, possibly. Then the council hastily sent Jesus to Pilate. We'll get to that in our next lesson. Have a good day!