Read Matthew 26:57-68.
Jesus was arrested, he was bound, he was tied up or in today’s world he would have been handcuffed and he was taken to the high priest who, at the time, was Caiaphas. John 18:13 says, they first took Jesus to Annas and then to Caiaphas. Annas is Caiaphas’ father in law. Annas was removed from his position as high priest by the Romans in 15 A.D. but it appears the Jews still regarded him as the true high priest and that would be the reason for taking Jesus to him first. This would have been Jesus’ first round of questioning. After receiving Annas’ approval they went to Caiaphas.
An interesting fact about Caiaphas that John mentions in John 11:50 is that Caiaphas actually spoke a prophetic word to the Pharisees and before the Sanhedrin prior to this event that stated, “You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” Verse 51 says, “He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together to make them one.” From that day on they plotted to take his life. Caiaphas was speaking what God laid on his heart, although he may not have realized exactly what he was speaking.
We can speak prophetically and not even realize what we are saying, or to what extent our words have meaning. That is why we guard our mouths.
Their plot to kill Jesus has finally come to fruition. They had Annas’ support, they knew they had Caiaphas’ support because of what he said earlier, and he was involved in the plot to kill Jesus. Jesus was taken to the high priest’s home where they met in his courtyard. The Sanhedrin, Pharisees, chief priests, Roman soldiers were all present to witness Jesus’ second round of questioning.
There are two story lines that run parallel here. We have Jesus’ story line that describes his illegal trial and then you have Peter’s story line. Vs. 58 leads us into Peter’s story line, it tells us that while they were headed to the high priest’s home, Peter followed him at a distance. So, he didn’t completely leave Jesus after all. He is just maintaining a safe distance. Peter followed Jesus and his captors right up to the courtyard of the high priest, he went through the gate and sat down with the guards, he wanted to see the outcome. He wanted to make sure Jesus was going to be OK.
It seems like Peter is “one the fence” here, he is taking the middle ground. He is not brave enough to be “all in”. We know from the book of Revelation 3:16 that Jesus will have nothing to do with you if you are “lukewarm”. You need to either be all for Jesus or have nothing to do with him. Holding back, being just enough of a Christian to feel good about yourself is not doing you any good. Jesus wants you to put yourself out there for him. Make it known that you stand for him in all situations. Peter is dropping the ball and he hasn’t even betrayed Christ yet. He dropped the ball when he chose to sleep instead of watch and pray, he dropped the ball when he chose to distance himself from Christ. I wonder how it would have been if he’d walked by Jesus’ side as he was carried off in chains? How would your life change if you decided to stay close to Christ even when the heat was on?
While Peter is waiting in the courtyard, the high priest and his band of “godly men” are inside trying to decide on what testimony to use against Jesus. Vs. 50 says they were trying to find false evidence against Jesus so they could put him to death. This was going to take awhile because they couldn’t find anything. Lots of false witness’ came forward and testified lies against him, but their statements did not agree. They didn’t get their stories straight before they spoke, until two people came forward with similar stories, although they still did not line up, they thought it was just enough to proceed.
Deut. 19:15 tells us that one witness is not enough to convict anyone of any crime, there must be two or three witnesses. Here they have two, not the most precise, but close enough witnesses.
They twisted the words of Jesus. They made it sound like Jesus was going to destroy the temple in Jerusalem and rebuild it in three days, when in fact he was referring to the resurrection of his own body on the third day. What Jesus said was, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” He was talking to the Jews who wanted a sign of his authority. (John 2:19) He reminded them of that authority by telling them that he cannot be destroyed.
The entire time these accusations were being made and Jesus’ words were being twisted and misunderstood, Jesus just stood their quietly. He would not give a reply, he remained silent and gave no answer even though the high priest directly asked him several times to answer about the charges against him.
You see they are running out of time here. They need to get this trial over with before sunrise. They can’t celebrate Passover with blood on their hands. Technically they weren’t allowed, by law, to have a trial the day before or day of a festival. They’ve already determined that no matter what Jesus would be sentenced to death. They’ve found two false witnesses to testify against him. Jesus wasn’t allowed any defense testimonies. They sentenced him and now they just need to find a reason to validate their decision and so far they have been unsuccessful, and time was running out, the pressure is mounting.
Through all the lies, through all the name calling and derogatory words spoken to Jesus and about him, he remained silent. He stood solid and unwavering before this unlawful court. He stood with his eyes locked in on Caiaphas, eyes that would penetrate right to the very soul of this man and never said a word.
The court was getting angry with Jesus, they wanted him to speak, they wanted him to argue. When you argue your words can be twisted and used against you. Have you ever found yourself in an argument where the other person twisted your words, taking them completely out of context? That is what they were hoping to do with Jesus. But, he remained silent. Jesus’ silence allowed him to keep his dignity in tack, he kept his integrity and his innocence in tack. He wasn’t silent because he was guilty, he was silent because he was innocent.
This court hearing was reaching its boiling point. Vs.62 when the high priest stood. Caiaphas got up out of his judgement seat, stood up with his temper flaring and demanded Jesus, “Are you not going to answer?” Aren’t you going to say anything? He continues, trying to get to Jesus, trying to provoke him just enough to validate his death sentence. Vs. 63, Jesus held his peace. “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Silence, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God” he asked with a rage rising in his voice.
By law Jesus had the right to remain silent until the high priest said to him “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God”. The high priest is basically forcing Jesus to respond now. When he worded his question this way it became mandatory for Jesus to reply or he really would be breaking the law. He could no longer remain silent. He didn’t respond to the false accusation, but he did respond by admitting he is the Son of God.
And with this order of oath, Caiaphas went for the jugular, Jesus answered, “I am”, “you have said so”.
His reply in vs. 64 gives a little insight as to how it will be at the end of the age and the second coming of Christ. Where Jesus will be seen sitting at the right hand of God and the expectation of Christ riding on his cloud chariot coming from heaven. The combination of these two statements proves that Jesus will share God’s rule in heaven and that he will judge all people.
Getting Jesus to respond positively to the question of being the Son of God, allowed the men to have just what they needed. To say that you are God in way, shape or form was blasphemy. It is blasphemous for a man to claim to be God. Leviticus 24:16 says if you blaspheme God you will be stoned to death. This is the only thing they could come up with. It wasn’t a crime-it was the truth, but they overlooked the truth here to get their point across.
He proclaimed, Yes, I am the Messiah, Yes, I am the Son of God, Yes, I am the Son of Man, Yes, I am the anointed, Yes, I will sit at the right hand of my Father and Yes, I will come in power and glory as the anointed judge and King. With that confession Jesus just sentenced himself to death.
With that confession, Caiaphas tore his clothes. The high priest were not permitted by law to tear their clothing. They had double seams sown into the garment to prevent this very thing from happening. It appeared that Caiaphas was in such turmoil he tore his clothes anyway. He appeared to be so upset that God was blasphemed that he had this extreme reaction to what Jesus said. Surely if the high priest is this distraught over what this man said, then surely he should be put to death.
Tearing his clothing, Caiaphas says to the others, “Now you have heard the blasphemy, what do you think?” With anger raging, the court answered in unanimous agreement, “He is worthy of death”.
They, the priests, the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees, the elders, the guards, the bystanders who just happen to be there, they all condemned him and then some began to spit on Jesus. To the Jews spitting was a huge sign of contempt. He was blindfolded and each gospel describes the scene, while blindfolded they punched him with their fists, they made fun of him, they beat him, they slapped him with open hands. They mocked his deity by demanding he prophesy who was slapping or punching him. With each blow to his body, “Tell us whose fist is this, punching you in the mouth?” “Prophesy, who just slapped your ear?”
Once those in the upper room of Caiaphas’ house were finished playing their game, Mark 14:65 tells us they then handed Jesus over to the guards/temple police. They took Jesus out of the room out of the house and continued to beat him.
If anyone of us were alive during this time period, and were standing trial before the Sanhedrin, we would have been found guilty on any number of sins. But, because Jesus gave his body over to the soldiers we don’t have to stand in a trial like this. We can be forgiven by understanding what all this was for. When we understand why Jesus gave his body to be beaten, for his blood to pour out onto the ground. When we understand this and accept him, it allows us to be acceptable in heaven. It allows us to be forgiven of all the rotten things we deserved to be beaten for.
We hear this truth today and its easy for us to judge those people for their lies and their repulsive behavior, but the truth is if you don’t stand with Christ, if you don’t accept that this was done for you, it means that you too stand with those who reject him. No matter how repulsive they are, you are one of them if you refuse Christ. You may not be as hostile towards him as these men were, but the rejection is the same. Don’t allow this day to disappear without seeking to know your Messiah.