Title: Gospel of John [18:24]. Christ's trials, part 2. Before Caiaphas and a limited court.
Before we get to the final two denials by Peter recorded by John we should look at the interrogation of the Lord before the court with Caiaphas presiding as high-priest. This was then the second trial if we count Annas' interview as a trial.
First trial - interview with Annas.
Second trial - the evening trial before the court with Caiaphas.
What a contrast it all seemed between the purification of the temple only a few days before, when the same Jesus had overturned the trafficking tables of the high-priest, and as He now stood, a bound prisoner before him, at the mercy of every menial who might wantonly insult Him.
The trial and sentence of Jesus in the palace of Caiaphas would have outraged every principle of Jewish criminal law and procedure.
A proper trial could only be carried out in the regular meeting place of the Sanhedrin. In the thoughts of the evil, the ends always justify the means.
No process could be begun in the night and not even in the afternoon and a defendant could only be pronounced guilty the next day. The ones attending this court knew all these rules.
It is likely that they had already planned to have this mock trial in Caiaphas' palace and not the meeting place of the Sanhedrin and pronounce Him "worthy of death" and not actually pass down a death sentence so that they could claim that it wasn't a trial at all.
They could claim that they didn't violate the law because it wasn't actually a trial. In the thoughts of evil, self-justification is a necessary skill that must be honed.
They did not actually and formally sentence Him. This was a farce from the beginning and Jesus took the indignity because it was His hour.
We'll use Matthew's account as our framework and bring in Mark and Luke when helpful.
MAT 26:57 And those who had seized Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were gathered together.
MAT 26:58 But Peter also was following Him at a distance as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and entered in, and sat down with the officers to see the outcome.
MAT 26:59 Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, in order that they might put Him to death;
MAT 26:60 and they did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward,
There is a resounding lack of cross-examination of the many false witnesses.
Whatever misinterpreted and exaggerated statements the witnesses made would not agree. This should have destroyed the prosecution's case but the court was fixed. From what we see Jesus had no council and no cross-examination of the non-agreeing witnesses was performed.
I think we can safely say that two of their own were called to corroborate witness of something Christ said that might be construed as sedition against Israel and against Rome, for technically, the temple and all who administered within it belonged to Rome.
MAT 26:61 and said, "This man stated, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.'"
This was misinterpreted since He wasn't referring to the material temple but the temple that was His body, JOH 2:21.
This same accusation would be hurled at Him as an insult:
And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, "Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!
How ironic. They had from the day He made it misunderstood the statement since He was referring to His body which the temple building only represented. While those who were passing by hurled these things at Him as an insult, He was then performing exactly that which He said. His temple is being destroyed and when the sins of the world are paid for, His body will be raised in glory. Coming down from the cross would destroy any possibility of salvation or resurrection glory.
We do not have to react to the scoffers. Their words condemn themselves.
MAT 26:61 and said, "This man stated, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.'"
We must remember that they are not attempting to formulate a charge upon which they could pronounce the death penalty. They are forbidden to give an capital sentence. Their goal is to formulate a charge which they could pass on to the Roman procurator.
Caiaphas certainly couldn't bring the charge that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, the Son of David since Pilate would have made a mockery out of their hopes for a coming Messiah.
MAT 26:62 And the high priest stood up and said to Him, "Do You make no answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?"
Jesus maintains the same majestic silence as before which incites Caiaphas to grow impatient and then to brow beat Him in order to extract any reply he could.
Only one thing now remained. Jesus knew it well, and so did Caiaphas - a question that must be answered and will lead either to His acknowledgment or condemnation.
It was to put the question, which Jesus could not refuse to answer, of whether He was the Christ. They both know that He will answer it and they both know what it will lead to. Caiaphas has the charge he needs to bring Him to Pilate and now he's going to get the charge he needs to convince the Sanhedrin that He is worthy of death.
Satan's leading minions are not stupid. They are quite gifted at scheming and covering their tracks.
MAT 26:63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God."
MAT 26:64 Jesus said to him, "You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven."
LUK 22:66 And when it was day [difficult to determine if this was a third trial conducted in the day of if Luke is referring to the same night trial of early morning], the Council of elders of the people assembled, both chief priests and scribes, and they led Him away to their council chamber, saying,
LUK 22:67 "If You are the Christ, tell us." But He said to them, "If I tell you, you will not believe;
LUK 22:68 and if I ask a question, you will not answer.
This was a follow up to what He had said to them just a couple of days prior.
MAT 22:41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question,
MAT 22:42 saying, "What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?" They said to Him, "The son of David."
MAT 22:43 He said to them, "Then how does David in the Spirit call Him 'Lord,' saying,
MAT 22:44 'The Lord said to my Lord,
"Sit at My right hand,
Until I put Thine enemies beneath Thy feet"'?
MAT 22:45 "If David then calls Him 'Lord,' how is He his son?"
MAT 22:46 And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question.
LUK 22:69 "But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God."
LUK 22:70 And they all said, "Are You the Son of God, then?" And He said to them, "Yes, I am."
With the same solemn, emphatic, calm, and majestic way He was in silence so He is now in speech. Confidence comes from trust in the Father.
Such confidence comes from trust in the Father. It comes from knowledge that things are going the way they are supposed to be and the believer is in the Father's will. Loss of confidence occurs when we are uncertain that we are in the plan of God or that we are in things that are not His will for our lives.
His admission that He was the Son of God is conjoined with the fact that the Father would show Him to be in resurrection, session, and return.
The Lord knows that He will be shown to the world as the Son of God in His resurrection, by being seated at the right hand of power, and His return to earth in glory at the second coming. He will not then or ever be on trial, but all the human race would be before Him as to whether they believed in Him or rejected Him. He will return as Judge.
The application of this to us is easy to see but incredibly profound in the doing. No matter what comes upon us, no matter who mocks us, we know that we will be revealed with Christ in glory. Where will their mocking be then? This is trust in the Father. It is our lives in His hands. It will give us confidence in all situations.
Prophesied in Psa 50:
Behold, the Lord God helps Me;
Who is he who condemns Me?
Behold, they will all wear out like a garment;
The moth will eat them.
Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
LUK 22:71 And they said, "What further need do we have of testimony? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth."
MAT 26:65 Then the high priest tore his robes, saying, "He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy;
I'm sure Caiaphas was shocked. He thought of Jesus as an impostor and likely figured that He would crack at this point and admit His lie to get out of being punished. Yet for Christ to say, "Yes, I am," with the same calm, majestic, confidence must have been quite the shock and quite the blow to what Caiaphas thought he knew about Jesus. But, as with many, evil desire trumped the pause of consideration, and he tore robes as he was supposed to when blasphemy was uttered and left the room, allowing the others to mock and beat Jesus the Christ.
They all heard it - and, as the custom or oral law directed when blasphemy was spoken, the high priest rent both his outer and inner garment, with a rent that might never be repaired - except this wasn't blasphemy, it was the truth.
And yet, who were the real blasphemers? It is forbidden to beat or scourge a prisoner that received the death sentence.
And the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking Him, and beating Him, and they blindfolded Him and were asking Him, saying, "Prophesy, who is the one who hit You?" And they were saying many other things against Him, blaspheming.
And some began to spit at Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him with their fists, and to say to Him, "Prophesy!" And the officers received Him with slaps in the face.
This is fulfillment of prophecy:
I gave My back to those who strike Me,
And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard;
I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.
For the Lord God helps Me,
Therefore, I am not disgraced;
Therefore, I have set My face like flint,
And I know that I shall not be ashamed.
MAT 26:66 what do you think? "They answered and said," He is deserving of death!"
MAT 26:67 Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him,
MAT 26:68 and said, "Prophesy to us, You Christ; who is the one who hit You?"
Strikes and blows to the head by the inhuman treatment from a frenzied mob. These temple guards, not even thinking of Him healing the ear of the highest of them are given the nod by the chief priests and scribes and feeding on each other's frenzy they begin to beat Him with open and closed fists and probably rods. This was also prophesied.
Just as many were astonished at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man,
And His form more than the sons of men.
"The literal rendering is terrible: 'So marred from the form of man was His aspect that His appearance was not that of a son of man' — i.e. not human." [Scofield Bible footnote]
Evil people love to trample on fallen greatness.
And the Lord had such harsh words for the religious Jews and especially in the temple this past week. If they weren't there to hear it they heard of it.
"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites
He said this seven times and each time pointing out a hypocritical behavior of the Pharisees and their scribes.
Evil people love to claim triumph where no victory has been won.
Peter writes in his epistle that they are unreasoning animals. When an angry animal is unchained it becomes more coarse and ferocious.
Evil people will resort to brutality when they deem it necessary and become unreasoning animals.
There are terrible things in man. There are some depths in human nature into which it is scarcely safe to look. It was by the very perfection of Christ that the uttermost evil of His enemies was brought out.
The touch of perfect goodness can save a man and it can bring out the terrible things in man.
We don't know if the trial had yet started when Peter gave his first denial. The second denial was during the proceedings and then the third followed an hour after the second, when the proceedings were over. We place the second denial somewhere in the middle of the proceedings.