The Sanhedrin’s Judgement of Jesus Christ
First the soldiers led the bound Jesus Christ to the old high priest Annas, who at that time was not serving in the Temple and lived in retirement. This chief priest interrogated Jesus Christ about His teaching and His disciples in order to find some fault in Him.
The Saviour answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the Temple where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing secretly. Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. They know what I said.”
One of the officers of the high priest, standing by, struck Jesus on the cheek and said, “Is that how You answer the high priest?” The Lord turning to him said to this, “If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike Me?”
After questioning by the high priest Annas, the bound Jesus Christ was sent through the courtyard to Annas’ son-in-law, the high priest Caiaphas.
Caiaphas was the high priest that year. He had advised the Sanhedrin to kill Jesus Christ saying, “You know nothing at all; you do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish.”
The holy Apostle John, pointing out the importance of this sacred rank of high priest, explains that in spite of his criminal design the high priest Caiaphas involuntarily prophesied about the Saviour that He would have to suffer for the redemption of the people. Therefore, the Apostle John said, He did not say this of his own accord but “being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation.” And here he adds, “And not for the nation only (for the Jews, because Caiaphas spoke only about the Hebrew nation), but to gather into one the children of God (the Gentiles), who are scattered abroad” (John 11:49-52).
At the house of the high priest Caiaphas that night, there gathered many members of the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin as the highest court of law usually had to convene in the Temple by day. Elders and Jewish scribes also came. All of them had agreed in advance to condemn Jesus Christ to death. But to do this, it was necessary to find some sort of guilt punishable by death. And since no one could find any sort of guilt in Him, they hired false witnesses to make untrue accusations against Jesus Christ. Many such false witnesses came forward. But they were not able to say anything that could condemn Jesus Christ. At last, two such false witnesses came forward and said, “We heard Him saying, ‘I will destroy this Temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands’.” But such testimony was not enough to condemn Him to death. To all these false witnesses, Jesus Christ made no answer.
The high priest Caiaphas stood up and said, “Have You no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against You?” Jesus Christ was silent.
Caiaphas said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, tell us if You are Christ, the Son of God.”
To this question, Jesus Christ said, “I am, but I tell you hereafter you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Then, the high priest tore his robes as a sign of indignation and horror and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard His blasphemy (that is, He being a man calls Himself the Son of God). What is your decision?” They all answered in one voice, “He deserves death.”
After this, they gave Jesus Christ into custody. Some began to spit on Him. The men who were holding Him mocked Him and beat Him. Others, covering His face, struck Him and with laughter asked, “Prophesy to us, You Christ, who is it that struck You?” All these insults, Jesus Christ endured without murmuring.
Note: See the Gospels of Matthew 26:57-68; 27:1; Mark 14:53-65, 15:1; Luke 22:54, 63-71; John 18:12-14, 19-24.