And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.…
The key to the examination of our Lord by Caiaphas is found in the fact that Caiaphas was the person who had declared it to be expedient that one man should die for the people. This, reduced from the high-sounding phraseology of an abstract maxim to its practical significance as a policy, meant that justice to individuals must not be too scrupulously cared for if the good of the state seems to require injustice; that at any cost of injustice to an individual the Jewish people must ingratiate themselves with Rome. If any bewildered counsellors disliked the idea of putting an innocent man to death, Caiaphas had his answer ready, "Ye know not anything; could we have a better opportunity of showing our zeal for Rome than by sacrificing a Person who claims to be King of the Jews? What though he be innocent? He is a poor Galilaean, whose death is of no consequence. He is connected with no good family which can expose us. By his execution we shall merit the confidence of Rome." Thus Jesus was made a scapegoat, on whom might be laid much treachery and infidelity of which the Romans justly suspected the Jews. An examination begun from this point of view was of no significance as a means of evincing truth. Jesus was prejudged. His death was a much desired boon to the community. But some show of legal form must be gone through. Cite the legal process in capital cases, and show how it was transgressed, and in what points adhered to. Significance of the silence of Jesus. It is beneath him to reply to questions put under pretext of examining, but really for the purpose of betraying the accused into some expression which might condemn him. The false man is best replied to by silence. His conscience is more likely to be stirred. Such seems to have been the result in Caiaphas's case. At least there is an appearance of sincerity in the words, "I adjure thee," etc. (ver. 63). He seems to have been impressed by the manner of Christ. He had probably never before had an opportunity of studying him, and he has discernment enough to see that this is no ordinary fanatic nor demagogue. To this appeal Jesus at once replies. And on this reply, on his own confession, and not on anything witnessed against him, he is condemned. Jesus' confession, that he is the Christ, the Son of God. Nothing could exceed the solemnity of the circumstances in which the confession was made. There is no doubt that Jesus laid claim to superhuman dignity; to a dignity which it was blasphemy for any mere man to claim. It was for this he was condemned (see Liddon's 'Bampton Lectures,' 288). Comparing the conduct of the high priest with that of the servants who mocked and abused Christ, we gather two suggestions for practical teaching.
1. How much wrong we may inflict upon Christ by resisting conviction.
2. How much wrong we may do him in ignorance - by adopting the judgments passed upon him by others, and declining the duty of considering his claims ourselves. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.