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Unformatted text preview: CHAPTER 34 576THE TRIAL AND CONDEMNATION 576THE JEWISH TRIAL 576From Gethsemane the bound and captive Christ was haled before the Jewish rulers. John alone informs us that the Lord was taken first to Annas, who sent Him, still bound, to Caiaphas, the high priest; 1 the synoptists record the arraignment before Caiaphas only. 2 No details of the interview with Annas are of record; and the bringing of Jesus before him at all was as truly irregular and illegal, according to Hebrew law, as were all the subsequent proceedings of that night. Annas, who was father-in-law to Caiaphas, had been deposed from the high-priestly office over twenty years before; but throughout this period he had exerted a potent influence in all the affairs of the hierarchy. 3 Caiaphas, as John is careful to remind us, "was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people." 4 576At the palace of Caiaphas, the chief priests, scribes, and elders of the people were assembled, in a meeting of the Sanhedrin, informal or otherwise, all eagerly awaiting the result of the expedition led by Judas. When Jesus, the object of their bitter hatred and their predetermined victim, was brought in, a bound Prisoner, He was immediately put upon trial in contravention of the law, both written and traditional, of which those congregated rulers of the Jews professed to be such zealous supporters. No legal hearing on a capital charge could lawfully be held except in the appointed and official courtroom of the Sanhedrin. From the account given in the fourth Gospel we infer that the Prisoner was first subjected to an interrogative examination by the high priest in person. 5 That functionary, whether Annas, or Caiaphas is a matter of inference, inquired of Jesus concerning His disciples and His doctrines. Such a preliminary inquiry was utterly unlawful; for the Hebrew code provided that the accusing witnesses in any cause before the court should define their charge against the accused, and that the latter should be protected from any effort to make him testify against himself. The Lord's reply should have been a sufficient protest to the high priest against further illegal procedure. "Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever 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." This was a lawful objection against denying to a prisoner on trial his right to be confronted by his accusers. It was received with open disdain; and one of the officers who stood by, hoping perhaps to curry favor with his superiors, actually struck Jesus a vicious blow 6 accompanied by the question, "Answerest thou the high priest so?" To this cowardly assault the Lord replied with almost superhuman gentleness. 7 "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?" Combined with submissiveness, however, this constituted another appeal to the principles of...
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