278 - Three Jewish Trials
Armed guards bound Jesus and led him from the Garden of Gethsemane to the home of Annas, the former high priest. The Romans had removed this aging priest from his important position because he had gained far too much power over the people. But the Jews continued to seek his advice and blessing. Annas questioned Jesus, pretending not to know what Jesus had been doing or teaching for the past two years. Jesus replied, “I taught in public places all over Israel, and I didn’t hide anything. If you want to know what I taught, ask the people who heard me. They know what I said.” One of the guards slapped Jesus. “Is that any way to answer the high priest?” he demanded. “If I said something wrong, then tell me,” Jesus replied. “But if what I said is true, why did you slap me?” The guards took Jesus to Caiaphas’ home. (Caiaphas was the new high priest, and he was married to Annas’ daughter.) Many of the religious leaders had already assembled in his home. These were the same Jewish leaders who had been searching for evidence against Jesus so they could put him to death. Up until now, they had been unsuccessful. Several people came forward to testify. They made false accusations, but none of their statements agreed. Two people had heard Jesus say that he would destroy the Temple and build another one in three days. But they could not agree on any of the details. Jesus remained silent the whole time. Finally, in frustration the high priest said, “You are under oath. Tell us plainly—are you the Messiah, the Son of God?” “I am!” Jesus replied. “In the future you will see me sitting at the right hand of God and coming on the clouds of heaven.” The high priest was so upset that he ripped his clothes in anger. (This action was in violation of Old Testament law—Leviticus 10:6 and 21:10.) He shouted, “We don’t need any more testimony against him. You heard him. He blasphemed against God!” Everyone in the home of the high priest agreed, “He is worthy of death!” The guards spit on him and hit him. They blind-folded him and began taunting him saying, “Prophesy to us if you are the Messiah! Who hit you?” Very early the next morning, the ruling body of the Jews (called the Sanhedrin) brought Jesus in. “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.” Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me. But from now on, I will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.” They asked him again, “Are you the Son of God?” Jesus replied, “You are right in saying that I am.” That statement made their decision easy. Jesus would be put to death for blasphemy! When Judas realized that Jesus had actually been condemned, he was filled with regret. He tried to return the 30 silver coins he had been paid for his betrayal (see #272 - September 29). He went to the chief priests in the Temple and said, “I have sinned because I have betrayed innocent blood!”The religious leaders replied, “What is that to us? This is your problem.” Judas threw the money down on the Temple floor and left. Then he hanged himself. The chief priests did not want to put the money back into the Temple treasury since it was “blood money.” So, they used it to buy a field where they could bury foreigners.
The religious leaders thought they were getting rid of Jesus. But their despicable attitudes and actions fit perfectly into God’s plan. By condemning Jesus, they had provided a reason for Jesus to die so that he could take away the sins of the world—and then be raised again! We should never doubt God’s sovereignty!