We have just left the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus was arrested. He was identified for arrest by a kiss from His betrayer; Judas Iscariot. Now He is being led, bound and at knifepoint, to the home of Caiaphas, the High Priest at the time. Jesus is about to begin His chain of trials. He will move from one link to another in this “puppet theatre” on His way to the cross.
Matthew tells us Jesus was brought from the garden to the palace of Caiaphas. John has Him standing before Annas prior to Caiaphas’ interrogation. I wonder if both men lived in the palace. It was a very large palace and Annas was previously the High Priest as well as being Caiaphas’ father-in-law. There were many multi-generational homes during those times. This could have been one of them. Annas could have intercepted the party before they reached Caiaphas. Annas was still a powerful man in political and religious circles. Because we are reading Matthew’s account now we are going to follow his narrative and skip to Jesus appearing before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin.
The group escorting Jesus is made up of Roman soldiers, temple guards, temple elders, chief priests and servants of the High Priest. The Roman soldiers and the temple guards are wielding their swords while the others are carrying clubs and torches. The crowd is quietly making their way through the streets into Jerusalem. They are trying to keep from arousing a public outcry over their actions. Conversation is at a minimum and Jesus is not resisting, so little is heard beyond the marching of many feet as they move toward their destination. The home (palace) of the High Priest, Caiaphas.
Peter and John met up under a tree not far from where the group was binding Jesus. Neither disciple knew what to do. Jesus had just stopped Peter cold as he tried to defend Him. Immediately after that, all of Jesus disciples ran away. Peter and John were with that fleeing group. Now they are trying to figure out what to do next.
“John, we need to follow them. We need to be ready to act if He should call on us.”
“Peter, I’m going to try and sneak into the back of the group. I’m sure they are on their way to Caiaphas’ palace. I know a few people there. I should be able to get in and keep an eye on things.”
At the gate of Caiaphas’ palace the group begins to break up. As Caiaphas’ home is considered a holy place, the Roman soldiers cannot enter. The Jewish portion of the group is admitted through the main gate but the Roman guards are dismissed. The gate is shut behind the group. The temple guards and the servants wait in the courtyard while the elders and chief priests continue on into the inner courtyard. Jesus, who is still bound, is being held by a few temple guards within this smaller group and is pushed roughly along into the inner court. Waiting there are the High Priest, and many other members of the Sanhedrin. They have been waiting for this contingent’s return. Caiaphas is looking very pleased with himself as Jesus is ushered into the center of the waiting group.
Peter followed the group from a distance. He arrives at the gate of Caiaphas’ palace after the door has been shut. John, who was able to sneak in with the Jewish contingent, notices Peter. John approaches the servant girl who is watching the gate. She knows John from the market. They have talked on several occasions and are friendly towards one another. She knows John is one of Jesus’ disciples but doesn’t say anything to anyone about it. John asks her to allow Peter to enter too. She is hesitant at first but then agrees to let Peter in. As Peter enters, she asks him if he is one of Jesus’ disciples too. Out of fear, Peter tells her he doesn’t even know Jesus. She allows him in because John asked her to, but Peter’s behavior raises questions in her mind. If he isn’t with this Man, why is he here? Is he just being nosey? How does John know him then? She goes on about her business but keeps an eye on Peter.
Peter goes over to where the temple guards and the servants have made a fire. Peter quietly slips into the group and tries to remain hidden while he listens in on what is going on in the inner courtyard, not 30 feet away.
Back inside the courtyard Caiaphas is questioning Jesus. They have brought in several people trying to gather convincing testimony that they can take to the Romans to have Jesus executed. Every witness they bring tells a little different story. They have been trying for over an hour and all they have come up with is two distorted accounts of Jesus’ comments He made regarding a sign for the Jews (John 2:18-21). Jesus quietly watched and listened as each new false witness stood before the council and recounted their “testimony.” “This is all they could come up with? Have they not heard anything I have said? Father, they are going to need something more than this to get the job done. I think it’s time to give them the full truth.”
Caiaphas was thinking along the same lines as Jesus. “We can’t take this to the Governor! He will laugh us right out of his court. We need something more. Something definitive. He needs to hang Himself with His own words.”
Caiaphas stands up and yells at Jesus, “Aren’t You even going to respond to what these men are saying about You? Defend Yourself!”
Jesus continues to simply stand there, silent and completely composed.
Caiaphas is sweating and his face is beginning to turn red. He steps right in front of Jesus and looks Him squarely in the eye. “I command You by the Living God to tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God!”
Jesus calmly says to Caiaphas, “You said it. After tonight, the next time you see Me it will be when I am seated at the right hand of God; coming on the clouds of Heaven.”
Caiaphas stumbles backwards. This is what he needed and then some! He grabs his robes and rips them. “Blasphemy! Blasphemy! You heard it yourselves! We don’t need any other witnesses. What say you all?”
The majority of the Sanhedrin begins to say, “He deserves death!” Several of the members spit on Jesus to show their hatred towards Him for His words. Some strike Him and mock Him by asking Him to prophesy as to who hit Him.
Jesus remains quiet as the hate is pouring over Him. Inside His heart is breaking for these men. He knows they are being used by Satan as his tools.
Father God, where is John during all this? We know where Peter is. We will talk about him tomorrow, but I’m curious about John. Was Jesus able to see him during His ordeal? Was John trying to remain hidden, like Peter? Did Jesus give John a look that kept him from interfering? How could someone who walked daily with Jesus stand by as Jesus was being spit on and slapped? I know it was all part of Your plan, that Jesus endure this alone and that none of His disciples suffer harm on His account. Were You hiding John in plain sight? Were You restraining him?
My heart wants to stand up and scream at the treatment of Jesus! I was reading about all the laws the High Priest and the Sanhedrin broke during Jesus’ trial. They had no grounds for what they did, so they had to break the rules (Got Questions.com). Jesus could have asked You to strike them dead for their behavior, but He didn’t. When He prayed on the cross, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”, was He referring to the Jewish religious leaders, the crowd who cried “Crucify Him”, or the Roman soldiers? Did He make a distinction? I know some of the religious leaders were actually Jesus’ followers. Did they stand silently by or were they simply steamrolled in the process?
EVERYTHING happened according to Your plan. Nothing was left to chance. Jesus even spoke up at the right time to ensure the right outcome. Jesus could have still remained silent, but this floundering bunch couldn’t accomplish the task on their own. They couldn’t convict Him without His own words.
Because there was NO other way, You gave them what they needed. Thank You for willingly submitting to such a humiliating experience on my behalf. Thank You for giving them what they needed so we could be reconciled. I am so sorry for what You went through and I can’t thank You enough for doing it for me. I could never have stood for this kind of treatment myself. So You did it for me. I love You Lord. Thank You Jesus.