From the garden Jesus is taken first to the house John xviii. 13-15. of Annas, and, after a brief delay here, to the palace
of Caiaphas, the high priest; Peter and John follow- Matt. xxvi. 5*7, 58.
ing Him. Here, whilst the council is assembling, He Mark xiv. 53, 54.
is subjected to preliminary examination by Caiaphas Luke xxii. 54, 55.
respecting His disciples and doctrine. The council John xviii. 19-23.
having assembled, He is put on trial. As the wit- Matt. xxvi. 59-66.
nesses disagree and no charge can be proved against Mark xiv. 55-64. Him, He is adjured by Caiaphas to tell whether He
be the Christ. Upon His confession He is condemned Matt. xxvi. 69-75.
as guilty of blasphemy. During this period, Peter, Mark xiv. 66-72.
who had followed Him with John to the high priest's Luke xxii. 56-62.
palace, there denies Him, and, reminded of His words John xviii. 15-18. by the crowing of the cock, goes out to weep. " 25-27.
That Jesus was led from Gethsemane to Annas first, and then sent by Annas to Caiaphas, is mentioned only by John. According to Matthew, He was led to Caiaphas, the high priest, and in his palace, before the priests and scribes and elders, the trial took place. Mark and Luke say merely that He was led away to the high priest, without naming him. The preliminary examination mentioned by John, they all pass over in silence. Our first inquiry therefore concerns this preliminary examination, before whom it was held, and its relations to the formal trial.
The Jews led Jesus away to Annas first. Various causes have been assigned why He should have been taken to Annas, as that his house was near at hand, and here the Lord might be kept safely till the council assembled ; that he was president or vice-president of the Sanhedrim, and so had a legal right to examine Him; that he occupied the same palace with Caiaphas; that he was father-in-law to Caiaphas, and therefore this mark of respect was shown him. To this latter relationship the Evangelist gives special emphasis, (v. 13,) and seems to make it the cause why Jesus was led before him.1 It is apparent from Josephus,2 as well as from the Evangelists, that he was for many years a man of great influence, and virtually the ecclesiastical head of the nation. It is in this personal reputation and authority, that we find the explanation of the fact that Jesus was taken to him first. As the former high priest, as father-inlaw of Caiaphas, as an experienced and able counsellor, a wish on his part to see so noted a prisoner, aside from other reasons, would sufficiently explain why the Lord was led before him.
But all this still leaves undetermined the point whether the Lord was examined by Annas. If so, he is designated by John as high priest, (v. 19:) " The high priest then asked Jesus," &e. But does he so designate him, or is Caiaphas meant ? That Annas is so called by Luke (iii. 2, Acts iv. 6) is not conclusive, for the question turns not on this fact, but on John's meaning. Nowhere in his Gospel does this Evangelist call Annas the high priest. This office was held by Caiaphas, (xi. 49 and 51.) That a distinction, based upon official position, is taken in the passage before us between Annas and Caiaphas, is apparent. Of the latter it is expressly said that he was high priest, (see also v. 24 ;) of the former that he was father-in-law of the high priest.
1 Ellicott, 333,1. 2 Antiq., 20. 9.1.
When he then, immediately after, speaks of the palace of the high priest, whose palace is meant ? Obviously that of Caiaphas. This seems the only natural and unforced interpretation of the language. The remark of Neander, repeated by Stier, that, by being styled the " high priest of that year? Caiaphas is not designated as the high priest, and is distinguished from other high priests, has little force.
The argument that tends most strongly to show that Annas is called high priest, is drawn from the statement (v. 15) that Simon Peter was following Jesus with John, and that they went in with Him into the palace of the high priest. As they led Him to Annas first, it is inferred that the disciples followed Him thither, and that what is said in vs. 15-23 must be the account of what there took place.1 But if this visit to Annas was brief, and had no important bearing on what followed; and was to gratify his curiosity, or to get his advice, or to find a place of temporary security, we can readily see why it is so briefly mentioned, and why the disciples are not said to have entered his palace.
If we turn to the examination itself, all the circumstances indicate that it was before Caiaphas, the legal high priest: the mention of his palace, the character of his questions, the fact that the Lord answers him, and the conduct of the officer. But does not the statement (v. 24) that " Annas sent (air^orruXev) Him bound unto Caiaphas, the high priest," show that this sending was after the examination previously mentioned? (vs. 19-23.) All here depends upon the point whether aTreo-Ttikev can be translated, as in our version, " had sent." 2 It is easily comprehensible that John, not having explicitly mentioned this sending to Caiaphas, should give this supplementary statement.
1 So Luthardt, ii. 385.
a Winer (Gram. 246) leaves the point undecided; so Buttman, New Test. Gram. 173. In favor of this translation, Tholuck, De Wette, Krafft, Bobinson, Norton, Greswell, Campbell.
Still, some find the key to this verse in the word " bound," as referring back to vs. 22, 23. Annas had sent Him to Caiaphas bound; yet the high priest permits Him, thus helpless, to be smitten in his presence. In this way the statement comes in parenthetically, and in its right place. " The fact is mentioned here because this indignity and prejudgment of the case of Jesus led to, and countenanced, the indignity just before mentioned." l Perhaps the more natural position of v. 24 would be after v. 13, where some would place it. If, however, we translate it, "Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas," the difficulty of its present position is not thereby removed. Why is this fact mentioned here ? No account is given of what took place before Caiaphas, but v. 25 resumes the narrative of Peter's denials in the palace of the high priest, and v. 28 simply announces that they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the hall of judgment. In whatever point of view we regard it, the position of v. 24 is peculiar ; but its reference to what had taken place seems best to explain the narrative.
We reach the same result by comparing the statements of the Evangelists respecting the place where Peter was when he thrice denied the Lord. It was, according to John, (xviii. 15,) in the palace of the high priest, or, more properly, in the court—duX^—where a fire of coals had been made, (vs. 18 and 25.) Mark (xiv. 54 and 67) mentions the same court and fire; and so Luke, (xxii. 55^ 56.) From Matthew (xxvi. 51) it appears that this palace was that of Caiaphas, and from vs. 69-75 that here Peter made the denials. If, then, all these denials were made in the same court, and this was that of Annas, they must have been made during the preliminary examination, and before Jesus was led to Caiaphas.
1 Norton, ii. 463. See also Bengel in loco.
But this is in opposition to Matthew, who makes the dourt to have been that of Caiaphas. Hence some1 find an irreconcilable discrepancy between Matthew and John. To avoid this difficulty, many would make this palace, which in all probability was the high priest's official residence, to have been occupied by Annas and Caiaphas in common. The first examination may thus have been before Annas in one apartment, and the formal trial before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrim in another—Peter remaining all the while in the court.2 In this supposition of a common residence, there is nothing at all improbable in itself. Still, the statement that He was taken to Annas first, and then sent by Annas to Caiaphas bound, seems to imply more than that He was taken to their joint residence, and then transferred from one apartment to another. We conclude, therefore, that they had distinct palaces, and that what John relates (xviii. 15-21) took place in that of Caiaphas.
The order of those3 who suppose that Annas and Caiaphas occupied different palaces, and yet that the first examination was before Annas, and that the denials of Peter were during this examination, and before Jesus was sent to Caiaphas, cannot be reconciled with the statements of Matthew; nor can we accept their solution that these statements are corrected by John, who saw their inaccuracy. That, after Jesus was led to Caiaphas, Peter did not remain behind and complete his denials, appears plainly from Luke xxii. 61, where it is said that the Lord turned and looked upon him after the third denial. Jesus must then have remained in the court of Annas till the second cock-crowing. This would put the sending to Caiaphas, and subsequent proceedings, much later than the tenor of the narrative warrants.
1 Meyer, Bleek.
3 SoStier, Lange, Ebrard, Lichtenstein, Alford, Ellicott. s So Olshausen, Wieseler.
The assertion of many, that Luke, who does not mention his name, intends to designate Annas as the high priest, (xxii. 54,) has no sufficient basis. That he does (iii. 2) speak of both Annas and Caiaphas as high priests, and in Acts (iv. 6) names Caiaphas without any official title, but calls Annas the high priest, does not show that Annas is here meant. There is no question that Caiaphas was the legal and acting high priest. As such he is designated by Matthew and Mark, and as such he takes the lead in all the judicial proceedings against Jesus. Of these facts Luke could not be ignorant. He himself names Caiaphas high priest. The presumption is therefore very strong that he alludes to him here, and that all he relates (vs. 5465) was in his palace.
We conclude, then, that Jesus was sent to Annas first, but not examined by him; that He was soon sent from Annas to Caiaphas; that the two had distinct palaces; that the examination (John xviii. 19-23) was before Caiaphas; that to this palace Peter followed; that here were all his denials ; and that thus the Evangelists are harmonized.1
We may then arrange these events in the following order:—Jesus, being arrested, is led first to Annas. Here He remains but a short period, and is sent by Annas to Caiaphas, in whose palace the trial was to take place.9 Because this sending to Annas had no important bearings on the trial itself, it is passed over by the Synoptists. But as some interval necessarily elapsed ere all the members of the Sanhedrim could be assembled, Caiaphas takes upon himself to ask Him some questions respecting His disciples and doctrines.
1 Lightfoot, Lardner, Bynaeus, Grotius, Whitby, Newcome, Norton, Robinson, Greswell, Krafft, Friedlieb, Da Costa.
2 As to the traditionary site of the palace of Caiaphas, see Porter, i. 173; Barclay, 171; Raumer, 258, note 21.
There is nothing here like a regular judicial examination; the judges are not present, and no witnesses are called or testify. Still, as Caiaphas was the high priest, Jesus pays him the respect which his office demanded, and answers him. That his object was evil is apparent. He would learn from Him how many, and who, had become His disciples, that he might hereafter use this knowledge against them. But upon this point Jesus kept perfect silence. In regard to His doctrine He had always and everywhere spoken openly. Let Caiaphas ask those who had heard Him in the synagogues and temple, and let them testify. An officer present, declaring that this answer is insulting to the high priest, smites Him with the palm of his hand. Caiaphas seems now to have withdrawn, probably to meet the Sanhedrim, and to have left Jesus to the mockery and abuse of His captors.
Let us now consider more fully the three denials of Peter. After the arrest, he, with " another disciple," followed Jesus to the high priest's palace. It is disputed who this other disciple was. Most regard it as a modest designation of John himself; others, of some unknown disciple. A. Clarke approves Grotius* conjecture that it was the person at whose house Jesus had supped. Some have thought of Judas. This disciple, being known unto the high priest, was permitted to enter with those who were leading Jesus, but Peter was shut out. Perceiving this, he turns back, and persuades the woman that kept the door to admit Peter also. They seem then, or soon after, to have separated, as no mention is afterward made of the other disciple. Either before or soon after Peter's entrance, the officer and soldiers made a fire of coals in the court.
To understand the details that follow, it is necessary to have in mind the ordinary construction of oriental houses, which is thus described by Robinson:l
» Har. 225.
" An oriental house is usually built around a quadrangular interior court, into which there is a passage (sometimes arched) through the front part of the house, closed next the street by a heavy folding gate, with a smaller wicket for single persons, kept by a porter. In the text the interior court, often paved and flagged, and open to the sky, is the avj} (translated i palace,' * hall,' and * court,') where the attendants made a fire ; and the passage beneath the front of the house, from the street to this court, is the 7rpoav\iov or Ttiawv, (both translated ' porch.') The place where Jesus stood before the high priest may have been an open room or place of audience on the ground floor, in the rear or on one side of the court; such rooms, open in front, being customary." In Smith's Bible Dictionary, (i. 838,) the writer speaks of " an apartment called makad, open in front to the court, with two or more arches and a railing; and a pillar to support the wall above. It was in a chamber of this kind, probably one of the largest size to be found in a palace, that our Lord was arraigned before the high priest, at the time when the denial of Him by St. Peter took place." That the trial of Jesus actually occurred in such an apartment seems plain from Matt. xxvi. 69, where Peter is spoken of as sitting " without in the palace," e£w—ev rrj avj, or court, implying that the Lord and His judges were in an inner room.1 Mark (xiv. 66) speaks of Peter as "beneath in the palace," tv rrj av\y Kcitcd, "in the court below." " Kot in the lower story of the house or palace," says Alexander, " as the English version seems to mean, but in the open space around which it was built, and which was lower than the floor of the surrounding rooms."
For convenient inspection, we give the denials of Peter in tabular form:
» See Meyer in loco8
" Thou also wast
with Jesus of
"I know not what thou sayest."
In regard to the first denial there are no special difficulties. How soon after Peter entered the court he was addressed by the damsel who kept the door, or portress, does not appear. It is probable that, as her attention had been specially drawn to him wThen he was admitted, she watched him as he stood by the fire; and that something in his appearance or conduct may have excited her suspicions. The attention of all who heard her must now have been directed to Peter, but no one seems to have joined her in her accusation.
In regard to the second denial, there are several apparent discrepancies both as to the persons and the place. The former are described as " another maid," " the (same) maid," " another person," " they." But in the several narratives it is plain that it is not deemed important to specify who addressed Peter; the important point is his denials. The matter may very naturally be thus arranged: The damsel who first accused him, silenced for the time, but not satisfied with his denial, speaks to another maid servant, and points out Peter to her as one whom she knew, or believed, to be a disciple. Seeing him soon after in the porch, for, in the agitation of his spirit, he cannot keep still, she renews the charge that he is a disciple; and the other maid repeats it. Others, hearing the girls, also join with them, perhaps dimly remembering his person, or now noting something peculiar in his manner. That, under the circumstances and in the excitement of the moment, such an accusation, once raised, should be echoed by many, is what wTe should expect. During the confusion of this questioning, Peter returns again to the fire, where most were standing, and there repeats with an oath his denial. There is no necessity for transposing, with Ellicott, the first and second denials as given by John.
The second denial, so energetically made, seems to have finally silenced the women, and there is no repetition of the
charge for about the space of an hour. During this interval, Peter, perhaps the better to allay suspicion, joins in the conversation, and is recognized as a Galilean by his manner of speech.1 As most of the disciples of Jesus were Galileans, this again draws attention to him. Perhaps the kinsman of Malchus, who had been with the multitude, and had seen him in the garden, and now remembers his person, begins the outcry, and the bystanders join with him; and the more that his very denials betray his Galilean birth. The charge, thus repeated by so many, and upon such apparently good grounds, threatens immediate danger; and Peter therefore denies it with the utmost vehemence, with oaths and cursings.
The exact relations in which the denials of Peter stand in order of time to the examination and trial of the Lord, it is impossible to determine. Probably the first denial, and perhaps also the second—for there seems to have been but a short interval between them, (Luke xxii. 58)—may have been during the preliminary examination before Caiaphas, or at least before the assembling of the Sanhedrim; and the third during the trial or at its close. The incident recorded by Luke, (xxii. 61,) that immediately after the third denial, as the cock crew, the Lord turned and looked upon Peter, is supposed by some to show that Jesus was now passing from one apartment to another, and, as He passes, turns and looks upon Peter, who was standing near by. But, if so, when was this? Those who put the preliminary examination before Annas, and Peter's denials there, make this the departure to Caiaphas after the examination ; others, His departure after the trial from Caiaphas to Pilate; others still, the change from the apartment in Caiaphas' palace, where He had been examined, to that in which He was to be tried. But it is by no means necessary to suppose any change of place on the part of the Lord.
1 As to the pronunciation of the Galileans, see Friedlieb, Archaol. 84. As we have seen, the Sanhedrim probably assembled in a large room directly connected with the court, and open in front, and therefore what was said in the one could, with more or less distinctness, be heard in the other. There is, then, no difficulty in believing that Jesus had heard all the denials of Peter; and that now, as he denied Him for the third time, and the cock crew, He turned Himself to the court and looked upon the conscience-stricken apostle. Meyer, indeed, finds it psychologically impossible that he should have made these denials in the presence of Jesus.1 Few will deem such a psychological impossibility, which exists only in the mind of the critic, of much weight against the word of an Evangelist; but, in fact, Peter was not in His presence, though not far removed.
1 As to the pronunciation of the Galileans, see Friedlieb, Archaol. 84.
As we have seen, the Sanhedrim probably assembled in a large room directly connected with the court, and open in front, and therefore what was said in the one could, with more or less distinctness, be heard in the other. There is, then, no difficulty in believing that Jesus had heard all the denials of Peter; and that now, as he denied Him for the third time, and the cock crew, He turned Himself to the court and looked upon the conscience-stricken apostle. Meyer, indeed, finds it psychologically impossible that he should have made these denials in the presence of Jesus.1 Few will deem such a psychological impossibility, which exists only in the mind of the critic, of much weight against the word of an Evangelist; but, in fact, Peter was not in His presence, though not far removed.
We have no datum to determine at what hour of the night these denials took place, except we find it in the cockcrowings. Mark (xiv. 68) relates that after the first denial the cock crew. Ail the Evangelists mention the third denial in connection with the second cock-crowing. Greswell (hi. 216) makes the first cock-crowing to have been about 2 A. M., the second about 3 A. M.2 But we do not know whether this second cock-crowing was at the end of the first examination, or during the formal trial, or at its close, and have therefore no datum to determine when the Sanhedrim began its session. We cannot, however, well place it later than 3 A. M. How long it continued we shall presently see.
* Note, Luke xxii. 61.
3 So, in substance, Wieseler, 406; Lichtenstein, 422.
We have still to inquire as to the legality of the Lord's trial. As to the competency of the court, no reasonable doubt can exist. The Sanhedrim had lawful and exclusive jurisdiction in all cases where capital punishmentcould be inflicted;1 and among the offences punishable with death, were false claims to prophetic inspiration, and blasphemy. Several instances are mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, where the disciples were arraigned before it: iv. 5-21; v. 17-40 ; vi. 12-15 ; xxiii. 1-10. Although its origin cannot easily be traced, it was at this time the recognized tribunal for the trial of all the more important offences.2 That usually the trials were fair, and the judgment equitable, there seems no good reason to doubt.
Whilst the Sanhedrim had power to try those charged with capital offences, it had no power to execute the sentence of death. It is generally agreed that from the time Judea became a Roman province, or from the deposition of Archelaus (759) the authority to punish capitally, the jus gladii, had been taken away from the Jewish tribunals. Lightfoot (on Matt. xxvi. 3) gives as a tradition of the Talmudists: " Forty years before the temple was destroyed, judgment in capital cases was taken away from Israel." He elsewhere remarks, (on John xviii. 31:) "It cannot be denied but that all capital judgment, or sentence upon life, had been taken from the Jews for above forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem, as they oftentimes themselves confess." It seems to have been the custom of the Romans to take into their own hands, in conquered provinces, the power of life and death, as one of the principal attributes of sovereignty.3 That the Sanhedrim lost this power by its own remissness, and not by any act of the Romans, as affirmed by Lightfoot from the Talmudists, is wholly improbable.4
1 Josephus, Antiq. 14. 9. 3.
2 Friedlieb, Archaol. 20 ; Winer, ii. 552.
3 See Dupin, Jesus devant Caiphe et Pilate. Paris, 1855, p. 88.
4 See Winer, ii. 553, note 1. Friedlieb, Archaol., 97. Bynaeus (iii. 19) affirms that the Jews had judgment in capital cases other than that of treason; but, from fear of the people, they charged Him with this offence to throw the odium and danger of His execution upon Pilate.
It has been inferred by some, from Pilate's words to the Jews, (John xix. 6,) "Take' ye Him and crucify Him," that the right to inflict capital punishment in ecclesiastical cases, though not in civil, was still continued to them.1 But these words seem to have been spoken in bitter irony. Crucifixion was not a Jewish punishment, nor could they inflict it.2 Krafft (142) explains their language, (John xviii. 30,) "If He were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up unto thee," as meaning that He was guilty of a civil offence. Were this man a spiritual offender, we would have punished Him ourselves. They accused Him of civil crime in order to throw the responsibility of His death upon Pilate. But against this is the fact that Pilate refused to punish Him for any such offence, and that the Jews were at last obliged to charge Him with violation of ecclesiastical law, (John xix. 7.) It is certain that if they had had power to punish Him upon this ground, he would at once have given the case into their hands, and thus thrown off all responsibility from himself. Their words, (xviii. 31,) "It is not lawful for us to put any man to death," seem plainly to cover the whole ground, and to embrace ecclesiastical as well as civil cases.3 The view supported by some,4 that the Jews had authority to put Jesus to death, but did not dare exercise it because of the holiness of the day, and yet did not dare retain Him in prison lest it should provoke insurrection, and so sought Pilate's help, seems without any good basis.
It thus appears that all capital offences must be reserved to the cognizance of the procurator. The Sanhedrim could try and convict, but must obtain his assent ere the sentence could be executed.
i So A. Clarke, Krafft. 2 Meyer in loco.
3 As to the death of Stephen, (Acts vii. 58,) and its bearings on this point, see Meyer and Lechler in loco, who maintain that it was an act of violence, and illegal -.contra, Alexander in loco; Winer, ii. 553, note 2.
4 Early by Augustine; see Godwyn, Moses and Aaron, 200.
These reserved cases Pilate seems to have been in the habit of hearing when he went up from Csesarea to Jerusalem at the feasts.1 The case of Jesus, then, must necessarily come before him, and he could confirm or set aside their verdict as he pleased. " It appears," says Lardner, " from the sequel, that Pilate was the supreme judge in this case, and the master of the event. For he gives the case a fresh hearing, asks the Jews what accusation they had brought, examined Jesus, and when he had done so, told them that he found in Him no fault at all. Thus his conduct is full proof that he was the judge, and that they were only prosecutors and accusers."
Let us now inquire what was the actual accusation brought against the Lord before the Sanhedrim. None of the Evangelists mention specifically of what He was accused. We are told that the council sought false witness against Him. But to what did these witnesses testify? Their testimony is not given, except in one instance, and that a perversion of His words, (John ii. 19:) "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." If the statements of the witnesses had been concordant and true, this language could be regarded at most as only a vainglorious boast; and if deserving of any punishment, certainly not of death. So far as appears, no charges were brought against Him that could be proved, and He was at last condemned upon His own confession that He was the Christ and Son of God. This fact is very remarkable, and demands our attentive consideration.
It is evident, from the Evangelists, that the rulers of the Jews were early resolved to put Jesus to death, so soon as they could find any sufficient ground of accusation.
i Ewald, v. 16; Friedlieb, Archaol. 104.
That He had broken the Sabbath, according to their construction of the law, by the healing of the sick, (Luke vi. 6-11,) and perhaps in other ways, and that He had assumed to forgive sins, which was, by implication, blasphemy, (Matt, ix. 3,) was beyond question; but for offences of this kind they did not dare arrest Him.1 But when they learned that in His teaching He " made Himself equal with God," (John v. 18,) this was a flagrant transgression of the law, and a capital offence. The first of the ten commandments was, " Thou shalt have no other gods before me," and for a man to make himself God, the equal of Jehovah, was a violation of this command, and a crime of the deepest dye. It was both blasphemy and treason, and hence the attempt of the Jews to kill Him upon the spot. A few months later they "murmured at Him, because He said, I am the Bread which came down from Heaven," (John vi. 41.) When, a little later, He said, "BeforeAbraham was, lam," (viii. 58,) thus implying a divine preexistence, they took up stones to stone Him; and when afterward (x. 30) He still more plainly affirmed, " I and my Father are one," they again sought to stone Him. They expressly declared, " We stone thee for blasphemy, and because that thou, being a man, rnakest thyself God."
There can be little doubt that it was to this point, the assertion by Jesus of an equality with God, that the testimony of the u many false witnesses" was turned. His other and minor offences were well known and undisputed. He had wrought many miracles, He had wrought some on the Sabbath, He had claimed to be the Lord of the Sabbath, He had assumed the power to forgive sins. All these things were well known, and witnesses testifying to them would not have testified falsely. It may be that attempts were made to prove that He had spoken against Jehovah, that He had denied the authority of the law, that He had prophesied falsely, that He had been a disturber of the public peace.
1 In John V. 16, where it is said, " The Jews sought to slay Him because He had done these things on the Sabbath day," the clause " sought to slay Him," is omitted by Tischendorf. So Alford, Meyer.
But if these charges were made, they must have been subordinate to the higher one, that, " being a man, He made Himself God." Could not, then, this charge be proved against Him ? Probably not. If any witnesses could be found to report what He had said, still His words wrere mysterious, and there was room for great difference of interpretation. That He did assume to be something more than man was the current belief, but one by no means easy to establish by legal evidence.
Whether the mere claim to be the Messiah, if proved false, was regarded by the Jews as a capital offence, is very questionable; but if so, there was jthe same difficulty in finding proof against Jesus in regard to His Messianic claims as in regard to His divinity. In no instance recorded, except that of the Samaritan woman, (John iv. 26,) did He avow Himself to be the Christ when other than His disciples were present. Nor did He permit evil spirits to proclaim Him as the Messiah, (Mark i. 34.) To the direct question of the Jews (John x. 24) He answers by referring them to His works. He permitted the apostles to confess their faith in Him as the Christ, (Matt. xvi. 16,) but He gave them strict command that they should tell it to no man, (v. 20.) Probably no two witnesses could be found, out of the ranks of the disciples, who had ever heard out of His own lips an avowal of His Messiahship. Had, then, such an avowal been blasphemy, they could not on this ground condemn Him.
It has been said that the Jews found cause to charge Jesus with blasphemy in that He had wrought miracles in His own name. " He had. performed many miracles, but never in any other name than His own."1 It is said that He had thus violated the law, (Deut. xviii. 20,) " He that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die;" for if to prophesy in the name of another god deserved death, equally so to perform any miracle or supernatural work in his name.
i Greenleaf, Test, of Evangelists, 524=.
i Greenleaf, Test, of Evangelists, 524=.
We conclude, then, that upon no ground could the Jews, through their witnesses, convict Hira of any ecclesiastical offence punishable with death. Neither as the Son of God, nor as the Messiah, nor as a false prophet, could He be legally convicted of blasphemy. His violations of the Sabbath were not such as they could punish with severity, if at all. If He had disturbed the public peace, punishment of this offence properly belonged to the Romans. Thus, upon the rule which He had Himself laid down, (John xviii. 21,) " Ask them which heard me what I have said unto them," He could not have been convicted. Only by His own confession was He brought within the scope of the law.
A Jewish writer, Salvador, in his " Histoire des Institutions de Moise,"1 commenting upon the trial, of Jesus, attempts to show that He was tried fairly, and condemned legally. He speaks of Himself as God, and His disciples repeat it. This was shocking blasphemy in the eyes of the citizens, It was this, not His prophetic claims, which excited the people against Him.
* Cited by Greenleaf, Test. 529, and by Dupin, Refutation,, 41.
The law permitted them to acknowledge prophets, but nothing more. In answer to Caiaphas, He admits that He is the Son of God, this expression including the idea of God Himself. u The Sanhedrim deliberates. The question already raised among the people was this: Has Jesus become God ? But the senate, having adjudged that Jesus had profaned the name of God by usurping it to Himself, a mere citizen, applied to Him the law of blasphemy, (Deut. xiii., and xviii. 20,) according to which every prophet, even he who works miracles, must be punished when he speaks of a God unknown to the Jews and their fathers ; and the capital sentence was pronounced."
Had the accusation against Jesus, as asserted by Salvador, had respect simply to His assertion that He was the Son of God, and He been condemned upon this ground only, however great the blindness and guilt in not recognizing His divine character, it could not be said that the court acted illegally. Such an assertion from the lips of any mere man was blasphemous. If a false prophet deserved to die, how much more he who made himself equal with God! Was it for this that He was, in fact, condemned ? When nothing worthy of death could be proved against Him by the witnesses, Caiaphas adjures Him by the living God, " Tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God."1 We cannot certainly determine how these two expressions, " the Christ," and " the Son of God," were connected in the mind of Caiaphas. It may be that he regarded them as of substantially the same meaning, though it may be questioned how far the title, Son of God, was one of the customary titles of the Messiah at this time. Still, it had been so often, and openly, applied to Him, that we cannot well suppose Caiaphas ignorant of it.
1 Matt. xxvi. 63. According to Mark, "Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" This adjuration, according to Jewish custom, was equivalent to putting the Lord under oath. Friedlieb, Archiiol. 91.
1 Matt. xxvi. 63. According to Mark, "Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" This adjuration, according to Jewish custom, was equivalent to putting the Lord under oath. Friedlieb, Archiiol. 91.
Granting that this phrase, " Son of God," was currently applied to men of great wisdom and piety, still, as Salvador admits, it could not have been so used by Caiaphas. If it did not, in its ordinary usage, imply participation of the Divine nature, it nevertheless was, and was designed to be, a designation that distinguished Him from all other men.
That the Jews, generally, did not suppose that the Messiah was to be a Divine Person, God manifest in flesh, seems fairly inferable from the perplexity into which the Lord's question cast them, (Matt. xxii. 42-45,) " What think ye of the Christ ? Whose Son is He ? " Only a few, as Nathanael, seem to have had a higher perception of the truth.1 Hence, when Jesus was presented to Pilate, (John xix. 7,) as one who " made Himself the Son of God," he evidently looked upon Him as one of much higher pretensions than a mere " king of the Jews."
i Luthardt i. 344.
Perhaps Caiaphas, in his adjuration, purposely selected both titles, that in this way the Lord's own conceptions of His Messianic dignity might be drawn out, and the way opened for further questions. The answer of Jesus, " Thou hast said," was an express affirmation, as if He had said, " I am;" and was regarded as blasphemy. It could have been so only as it implied equality with God, or an assumption of the power and authority that belonged to Jehovah alone. That the Jews so understood it, is plain from their language to Pilate.1
But if we admit that the Lord, regarded as a mere man who claimed equality with God, was justly condemned by the, Sanhedrim, as Salvador affirms, still it by no means follows that the trial was fair and impartial. He had long been prejudged, and His death predetermined. Almost from the beginning of His ministry, spies had been sent to watch His actions; and afterward it was agreed that if any man did confess that He was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue, (John ix. 22.) After the resurrection of Lazarus, it was determined in council, by the advice of Caiaphas, that He should be put to death, and that without regard to His guilt or innocence, (John xi. 47-53.) After His public entry into Jerusalem, several attempts were made to entangle Him in His talk ; then a consultation was held how they might take Him by subtlety and kill Him; then one of His apostles was bribed to betray Him; and at last He was arrested at dead of night. At the trial itself, the usual forms were not observed; no one appeared as advocate for Him, no witnesses were called to testify in His favor; and when the witnesses against Him could not agree in their testimony, He Himself was put under oath.2 The abuse which He suffered, both before and after the trial, and in the very presence of His judges, sufficiently shows how hitter and cruel was their enmity toward Him.
1 As to the argument for the Lord's divine nature, drawn from this trial, see Whately, Kingdom of Christ, Essay I.
2 See Friedlieb, Archaol. 87 j Dupin, 75.