was followed from the garden of Gethsemane by the hooting mob. He moved
painfully, for His hands were tightly bound, and He was closely guarded.
He was taken first to the house of Annas, who had formerly been the high
priest, but whose place was then filled by his son-in-law, Caiaphas. The
wicked Annas had requested that he might be the first to see Jesus of
Nazareth a bound captive. He hoped to draw from Him some evidence by
which to secure His condemnation.
With this in view he questioned the
Saviour with regard to His disciples and His teachings. Christ answered:
"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."
Then, turning upon the questioner, He
said, "Why askest thou Me? Ask them which heard Me, what I have said."
John 18:20, 21.
The priests themselves had set spies to
and report His every word. Through these spies they knew of
His sayings and of His works at every gathering of the people He had
attended. The spies had sought to entrap Him in His words, that they
might find something by which to condemn Him. So the Saviour said, "Ask
them which heard Me." Go to your spies. They have heard what I have
said. They can tell you what My teaching has been.
The words of Christ were so searching and
pointed that the priest felt that his prisoner was reading his very
But one of the servants of Annas,
thinking that his master was not treated with proper respect, struck
Jesus in the face saying: "Answerest Thou the high priest so?"
To this Jesus mildly said: "If I have
spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou
Me?" John 18:22, 23.
Christ could have summoned legions of
angels from Heaven to His aid. But it was a part of His mission to
endure in His humanity all the taunts and insults that men might heap
From the house of Annas, the Saviour was
taken to the palace of Caiaphas. He was to be tried before the
Sanhedrin, and while its members were being called together, Annas and
Caiaphas again questioned Him, but they gained no advantage.
When the members of the Sanhedrin had
assembled, Caiaphas took his seat as the president. On each side were
the judges; before them stood the Roman soldiers guarding the Saviour;
back of these was the accusing mob.
Caiaphas then bade Jesus work one of His
mighty miracles before them. But the Saviour gave no sign that He
a word. Had He responded by even one soul-searching look, such as He
gave the buyers and sellers in the temple, the whole murderous throng
would have been compelled to flee from His presence.
The Jews were at this time subject to the
Romans, and were not allowed to punish any one with death. The Sanhedrin
could only examine the prisoner, and pass judgment to be ratified by the
To accomplish their wicked purpose, they
must find something against the Saviour that would be regarded as
criminal by the Roman governor. They could secure abundant evidence that
Christ had spoken against the Jewish traditions and many of their
ordinances. It was easy to prove that He had denounced the priests and
scribes, and that He had called them hypocrites and murderers. But this
would not be listened to by the Romans, for they themselves were
disgusted with the pretensions of the Pharisees.
Many charges were brought against Christ,
but either the witnesses disagreed, or the evidence was of such a nature
that it would not be accepted by the Romans. They tried to make Him
speak in answer to their accusations, but He appeared as if He had not
heard them. The silence of Christ at this time had been thus described
by the prophet Isaiah:
"He was oppressed, and He was afflicted,
yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His
mouth." Isaiah 53:7.
The priests began to fear that they would
fail of obtaining any evidence which they could bring against their
prisoner before Pilate. They felt that one last effort must
be made. The
high priest raised his right hand toward Heaven, and addressed Jesus in
the form of a solemn oath:
"I adjure Thee by the living God, that
Thou tell us whether Thou be the Christ, the son of God." Matthew 26:63.
The Saviour never denied His mission or
His relation to the Father. He could remain silent to personal insult,
but He ever spoke plainly and decidedly when His work or Sonship to God
was called in question.
Every ear was bent to listen, and every
eye was fixed upon Him as He answered: "Thou hast said."
In the custom of those days this was the
same as answering, "Yes," or, "It is as thou hast said." This was the
strongest form of an affirmative answer. A heavenly light seemed to
illuminate the pale countenance of the Saviour as He added:
"Nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter
shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and
coming in the clouds of Heaven." Matthew 26:64.
In this statement the Saviour presented
the reverse of the scene then taking place. He pointed forward to the
time when He will occupy the position of supreme Judge of Heaven and
earth. He will then be seated upon the Father's throne, and from His
decisions there will be no appeal.
He brought before His hearers a view of
that day, when, instead of being surrounded and abused by a riotous mob,
He will come in the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory. Then He
will be escorted by legions of angels. Then He will pronounce sentence
upon His enemies, among whom will be that same accusing throng.
As Jesus spoke the words declaring
Himself to be the Son of God, and Judge of the world, the high priest
rent his robe, as if to show his horror. He lifted his hands toward
Heaven, and said:
"He hath spoken blasphemy; what further
need have we of witnesses? Behold, now ye have heard His blasphemy. What
The judges answered, "He is guilty of
death." Matthew 26:65,66.
It was contrary to the Jewish law to try
a prisoner by night. Though the condemnation of Christ had been
determined, there must be a formal trial by day.
Jesus was taken to the guard room, and
there suffered mockery and abuse from the soldiers and the rabble.
At daybreak He was again brought before
His judges, and the final sentence of condemnation was pronounced.
A satanic fury then took possession of
the leaders and the people. The roar of voices was like that of wild
beasts. They made a rush for Jesus, crying, "He is guilty, put Him to
death!" and had it not been for the soldiers, He would have been torn in
pieces. But Roman authority interposed, and by force of arms restrained
the violence of the mob.
Priests, rulers, and the rabble joined in
abusing the Saviour. An old garment was thrown over His head; and His
persecutors struck Him in the face, saying:
"Prophesy unto us, Thou Christ, Who is he
that smote Thee?" Matthew 26:68.
When the garment was removed, one of the
mocking throng spat in the Saviour's face.
The angels of God faithfully recorded
look, word, and act against their beloved Commander. One
day those base men who scorned and spat upon the calm, pale face of
Christ will look upon it in its glory, shining brighter than the sun.