129: Questioned by Annas
The palace of the high priest was quiet that night. It was the night of the Passover. The streets were deserted. The moon beamed brightly on the sleeping city.
Quietly, some servants came through the gate of the great house. They spread quickly through Jerusalem and knocked on the doors of the leading Jews who were members of the Sanhedrin. They woke them up and told them they should meet at once in the house of Caiaphas.
From all directions, elders and scribes in their long, beautiful robes hurried over to the high priest's house. They knocked on the door, and a servant girl let them in. They hurried to the spacious inner court. A fire was burning in the darkness for the armed servants to warm themselves. They walked on and entered one of the large rooms that had been added to the mansion.
There Caiaphas, the high priest and the chairman of the Sanhedrin, greeted them. His eyes were shining with wicked delight as he told them that Jesus had finally been arrested. Soon He would be led into the room, and they would condemn Him to death. They all knew that in advance. They were determined that He was to die whether or not He was guilty. They needed only an accusation to bring against Him.
The punishment was already decided— death. Now they need only find a crime to go with it.
First Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, would question Jesus. Annas would conduct a preliminary hearing until the Sanhedrin was ready to begin meeting.
Annas was old and gray, but he was just as powerful and cunning as Caiaphas. He had served as high priest in the past, but the,Romans had removed him from office. His sons took over from him, and then the office passed to Caiaphas, his son-in-law. But Annas was still referred to as the high priest.
He sat in a room on one side of the inner court. Jesus stood bound before him, between the servants who had brought Him in.
Annas looked at Jesus in pride and contempt. He asked Jesus all sorts of tricky questions about His disciples and His teaching. He hoped that Jesus would give a careless answer.
But his cunning did not get him anywhere against Jesus. Although Jesus had been betrayed by one of His disciples, He would never betray them. He also refused to say anything about His teaching. Why was Annas asking about that? Surely Annas knew what Jesus had taught. Jesus did not say things in secret.
He answered boldly, "I have spoken freely and openly to the world. I taught constantly in the synagogues and the temple, where all the Jews gather, and I taught nothing in secret. Why do you ask Me these questions? Ask those who heard Me when I taught. They can tell you what I said."
Annas didn't know what to answer, for he felt that Jesus could see right through him. A servant, eager to help, went up to Jesus and slapped Him in the face. "Is that any way to answer the high priest?" he shouted indignantly.
That was the first blow Jesus received. He turned to the servant calmly, with earnestness rather than wrath in His eyes. He said gently, "If I said something wrong, then tell Me what I said that was wrong. If it was good, why do you strike Me?"
The mean servant looked down at the floor in shame. Annas sensed that he would get nowhere against Jesus' wisdom. Angrily he sent Jesus across the inner court to the judgment hall of Caiaphas.