But Jesus held his peace, And the high priest answered and said to him, I adjure you by the living God…
Jesus now stands face to face with the head of the old Jewish religion. The official leader of the nation is for the first time confronted by the Man who claims to be its true King. Caiaphas could not but look upon Christ with the jealousy a selfish man in power feels for his rival. But Jesus was more than a rival of the high priest. He laid claim to a rank which Caiaphas never dreamed of assuming. We do not wonder that the ecclesiastical judge examined his Prisoner with bitter prejudice.
I. THE ADJURATION. Caiaphas charged Jesus, on oath, to declare whether he was the Christ, the Son of God.
1. It is most important to know what Jesus Christ claims to be. We have an interest in the high priest's question quite apart from the judicial process. Our religion is centred in Christ. It is mere than an outgrowth of his life and teaching. It rests upon his Person; it lives in him; it is what he is. We cannot wholly disregard him without abandoning Christianity itself. An imperfect knowledge of Christ may be found with a true and saving faith in him. Still, the faith must be in him, and therefore we must know enough of him to trust him.
2. The greatest question about Christ is as to his Divinity and Messiahship.
(1) Is he the Christ? If he is, he is able to save; if he is, he has a right to claim a loyal following.
(2) Is he the Son of God? If he is, he comes to us clad with Divine power. Then we may trust that he cannot fail, and we have the best of all reasons for submitting to his kingly rule. Such questions as these about his nature and authority cannot be set aside as of merely speculative interest.
II. THE REPLY. Jesus did not usually assert his Messiahship; much less did he directly confess his Divine nature, except on certain rare occasions. But he was now at the end of his life, and therefore his revelation of his nature and office could not hinder his work. Moreover, the high priest had a legal right to test his claims, and Jesus never opposed the execution of the law.
1. Jesus accepted the highest names ascribed to him. Could he do this if he did not know they were his by right? He was calm and reasonable, simple and humble, generous and unselfish. Yet he consented to be called "the Christ, the Son of God."
2. Jesus foresaw and predicted his own second advent. It is wonderful that a peasant from Galilee should speak thus before the greatest dignitary of his nation, amid all the pomp and splendour of the high priest's palace, and in view of his own rejection and death.
III. THE RESULT. Caiaphas took the words of Christ as if they were blasphemy and on this account pronounced him to be worthy of death.
1. His conduct was determined by an unjust prejudice. He assumed that the claims of Christ could not be true, and therefore he judged them to be blasphemous. Thus he approached Christ with a closed mind. If we have already made up our minds adversely to the claims of Christ, it is useless for us to examine them. but the only fair method is to approach him with an open mind, ready to weigh all he teaches, ready to accept all that he may give us good warrant for believing.
2. On his own assumption he was right. If the high claims of Christ were false, he was guilty of blasphemy. Caiaphas was more consistent than those people are who reject the Divine claims of Christ, and yet honour him as the best of men. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.