Jesus 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 watch Christ
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 soul.
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 upon Him.
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
heard 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 judgement to be ratified by the Roman authorities.
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 opened 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 think ye?"
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 every insulting
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.