I. THE HIGH PRIEST THEN ASKED JESUS OF HIS DISCIPLES AND OF HIS DOCTRINE.
A. He is asking Jesus to testify against Himself, which is contrary to the law.
1. In our constitution we have the 5th amendment that protects a person from testifying against himself.
2. The legal procedure would have been to prefer some charge against Jesus and then bring in witnesses to prove that charge.
3. The judge who was supposed to listen to all of the evidence and then determine the guilt or innocence of the defendant, was himself taking on the position of the prosecuting attorney in asking the leading questions.
4. It is obvious a fishing expedition in which they were looking for something that they might charge Him with.
B. He asked first about His disciples, then about His doctrine.
1. Their intent from the beginning is to turn him over to Rome so that the death sentence might be imposed upon Him.
2. At this point and time in history the Jews had lost their right to condemn a prisoner to death.
3. This right was taken from them by Rome, around the year 6-7 A.D. The son of King Herod and his successor named Herod Archelaus, was dethroned and banished to Vienna, according to Josephus (Antiquities 17:13). He was replaced by a Roman Procurator named Caponius. The legal power of the Sanhedrin was severely restricted and at that time the power of imposing capital punishment was removed from them. Josephus records this in The Wars of the Jews, book 2, chap.8. In the minds of the Jewish leadership this was interpreted as the removal of the scepter from Judah. The prophecy of Jacob was that the scepter would not depart from Judah until Shiloh came, or the Messiah came.
4. The historian Josephus in Antiquities 20:9, writes: After the death of the procurator Festus, when Albinus was about to succeed him, the high priest Ananius considered it a favorable opportunity to assemble the Sanhedrin. He therefore caused James the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, and several others to appear before this hastily assembled council and pronounced upon them the sentence of death by stoning. All the wise men and strict observers of the law who were at Jerusalem expressed their disapprobation of this act. Some even went to Albinus himself, who had departed to Alexandria to bring this breach of the law under his observation, and to inform him that Ananius had acted illegally in assembling the Sanhedrin without the Roman authority.
5. When Rome took from the Jews the power of capital punishment early in the first century, the Babylonian Talmud in chap. 4, folio 37 declares: "When the members of the Sanhedrin found themselves deprived of their right over life and death, a general consternation took possession of them: they covered their heads with ashes, and their bodies with sackcloth, exclaiming: Woe unto us for the scepter has departed from Judah and the Messiah has not come."
6. The high priest was seeking to develop some charges that he might take Jesus to Pilate in order to get the death sentence pronounced upon Him.
II. JESUS ANSWERED HIM, "I SPOKE OPENLY TO THE WORLD; I TAUGHT IN THE SYNAGOGUE AND IN THE TEMPLE, WHERE THE JEWS ALWAYS RESORT, AND IN SECRET I HAVE SAID NOTHING."
A. He had no secret agenda with His disciples of overthrowing the Roman government.
1. There had been many impostors who had appeared about the time of Jesus, but all of them spoke of overthrowing Rome.
2. This of course would have been a valid reason to bring Jesus to the Roman authorities.
B. What He had taught, He had taught openly.
C. His private discussions with His disciples was only explaining to them what He had said in public. There were no secrets, no hidden agenda.
D. He had not encouraged His disciples in their thoughts that He would assume the authority of the Kingdom of God immediately.
1. Quite the opposite, He had spoken to them over and over of His being despised, rejected, and crucified.
2. He had actually sought to discourage them in thinking that the Kingdom of God was to be immediately set up.
E. When they had sought to trap Him in the issue of paying taxes to Rome, He asked them for a coin and asked whose image was on the coin. When they answered Caesar, He said, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar, and unto God the things that are God's."
F. They did not really have any legitimate charge to file against Him, so they were seeking to trump up some charges.
1. When He was eventually brought before Pilate, Pilate was shrewd enough to realize that they did not have legitimate charges but had only delivered Him because of envy.
2. They had tried to get some false witnesses against Jesus, but they could not even agree among themselves. The whole case against Jesus had broken down so they had to resort to extortion.
III. WHY DO YOU ASK ME? ASK THEM THAT HEARD ME WHAT I HAVE SAID UNTO THEM. BEHOLD, THEY KNOW WHAT I HAVE SAID.
A. Jesus is taking over the trial. He is now asking the questions, and commanding the high priest what to do. This obviously stymied the high priest and He was at a loss.
1. One of the officers who was standing by Jesus seeing the dilemma of the high priest struck Jesus with the palm of his hand. The margin reads "a rod." I believe that it was a rod, and the prophecy of Micah 5:1
was being fulfilled.
2. This is the first physical blow struck against Jesus. He will later be beaten until He will be unrecognizable as a human being.
3. It is always sad when reason gives way to force.
4. You don't have sound answers, you are exposed in your absurd folly, so you start swinging with your fists, or verbally attacking the character of your opponent.
5. I have seen this over and over in the creation- evolution debates. Because the evolutionist cannot offer any sound scientific evidence that proves the theory, they attack the intelligence of anyone who does not believe that man came from the goo through the zoo to his present state of existence. Why should you believe that? Because they say that that is how it happened. But they are fools. They profess themselves to be wise, but they are fools. The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." Why should I believe a fool just because he possesses a PhD?
B. The officer that struck Jesus said, "Answerest the high priest so?"
1. He was no doubt upset that Jesus was so right as to silence the high priest.
2. He no doubt knew the law and knew that the high priest was outside of the law in questioning the prisoner as he was.
IV. JESUS ANSWERED HIM, "IF I HAVE SPOKEN EVIL, BEAR WITNESS OF THE EVIL: BUT IF WELL, WHY DO YOU SMITE ME?"
A. Jesus is still in control of the whole procedure. He is first commanding the officer to bear witness of any evil that He had said, then demanded the reason why he struck Him.
B. Later in history when Paul was before the council to be examined as Paul began to make his defense, declaring that he had always lived in good conscience before God. The high priest commanded those who were standing by Paul to hit him on the mouth. Paul said to him, "God will smite you, you whited wall, for you sit to judge me after the law, yet you order me to be smitten which is against the law."
C. This officer was violating the law in smiting Jesus.
D. When those who are appointed to uphold the law, begin to feel that they are above the law, we have descended to the lowest conditions possible.
V. NOW ANNAS SENT HIM BOUND UNTO CAIAPHAS THE HIGH PRIEST.
A. This was a necessary move on the part of the religious council for Annas, though the recognized head over the religious affairs of the nation, was not recognized by Rome, and could not thus bring Jesus before the Roman judicial system in order to get the death penalty pronounced upon Jesus.
B. We have already commented upon the unusual conditions where there were two high priests.