JESUS BEFORE THE HIGH PRIEST
The soldiers and the Pharisees that had come to the garden
of Gethsemane with Judas, took Jesus first to Annas. Now Annas
was father-in-law to Caiaphas who was the High Priest that
particular year. His house (Annas) was probably the closest to
Gethsemane, and Annas had been High Priest himself for a long
period. History tells us that he had five sons who also had
functioned as High Priest in Judea, and now his son-in-law was
High Priest. They probably thought it was important to gain his
counsel in the work of evil they were now planning against Jesus.
And they wanted a little more time to gather more people from the
Jewish Sanhedrin before taking Jesus to the High Priest
himself, so they first went to the home of Annas.
They were not there that long, and Annas had Jesus bound and
they were all off to the palace of Caiaphas the High Priest. It
was Caiaphas who had given counsel to the Jews that it was
expedient that one man should die for the people.
By now it was probably between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. when Jesus
was inside the palace of Caiaphas. You will remember that the
eleven disciples had scattered when they arrested Jesus in
Gethsemane. Now Peter, after gaining back some courage, decided
he would follow the band of people who had arrested Jesus, but he
was keeping his distance, not wanting to get himself arrested.
There was also another disciple who decided to follow also. The
name of that disciple we are not specifically told by the
Gospel writers, but we are told he had some "pull" or was as we
say, "on the in" with the High Priest. Some Bible Commentators
think this other disciple may have been the apostle John, but we
simply cannot say for sure, because his name is not given to us
in the Gospels.
The soldiers, the scribes (some of), the Pharisees (some
of), the elders (some of), arrived at the palace of the High
Priest, with Jesus who was now bound with a rope or chain. The
palace had a kind of "porch" entrance, then a gate from the porch
into a court-yard area, then there was a second story area that
was not enclosed but open, so you could look down from it into
the courtyard. Jesus was taken up onto the second story to
face questioning by the High Priest, and others.
Peter had followed to the porch of the palace, but was not
permitted to enter the "court" area. The other disciple who
followed and was "on the good side" with the High Priest, was
permitted to enter the courtyard and witness all that was going
to take place. As this other disciple had some pull with the High
Priest (how that was we are not told), he was able to go to the
servant maid who looked after the door from the porch to the
courtyard, and persuade her to let Peter into the court area.
Peter was now inside the court area and Jesus could see from
above, where He was, both of the disciples below.
Some of the following, was taking place at the same time,
but I shall have to give them separately, but I will use at times
the phrase "mean while this was happening" so you can get a
better picture of the whole scene and what probably lasted for a
couple of hours.
Peter was now in the courtyard. The soldiers had built a
fire to keep themselves warm, and Peter was also taking advantage
of the fire, sitting with the guards to keep himself warm also.
The chief priests and Jewish council (the ones who were
there) had been as busy as bees trying to find people who would
testify against Jesus, even willing to lie about Jesus, so they
could condemn Him to death. Well, it was all back-firing on them,
as the witnesses were contradicting each other, even as they lied
about what Jesus had done and said. Finally they managed to get
two people to say, "This fellow said, 'I am able to destroy the
temple of God, and to build it back again in three days.' " Now
the religious leaders took those words of Jesus to mean He was
talking about the great physical Temple in Jerusalem, but we know
Jesus was not talking about any physical Temple, but was talking
about Himself, His death and resurrection in three days.
The High Priest looked at Jesus and said, "Do you hear what
these witnesses say about you? How do you answer what they have
said you once said?" Jesus did not say a word in His defence. He
gave no reply.
The blood pressure of the High Priest was rising. With a
loud voice and nearly to the point of shouting, he barked out at
Jesus, "I command you by the living God of our people, tell us if
you are the Christ, the Son of God!!"
Jesus replied, "You have said it! Yes, I am! From now on Son
of man will be sitting at the right hand of Power, the right hand
of God. And will come again with the clouds of heaven."
"So you are the Son of God then?" many shouted back at
Jesus. "You have said the words," Jesus replied, "and yes, so I
At this the High Priest and others were ready to blow their
gasket as we say. They were hot under the collar, and just about
ready to lynch Jesus on the spot. To them anyone saying he was
the Son of God, was blasphemy. Many were crying out, "We have
heard it from his own lips! We do not need to hear any more. This
is blasphemy, and so he deserves to die. Put him to death!"
Meanwhile, as all this was going on up on the second floor
of the palace, down in the courtyard a servant maid was looking
intently and closely at Peter sitting by the fire.
She kept gazing at him, finally it hit her like a bold of
lightning, and she said to all around, "This man here was also
with him, part of his disciples!" Peter immediately responded by
saying, "I do not know what you are talking about. Woman, I do
not know this man called Jesus!"
Peter was disturbed, he arose quickly, and went to the porch
area, near the gateway from the porch to the courtyard, trying
to keep his head low, so no one could see him very well.
Back up on the second floor, they were so angry at the words
Jesus had said to them, admitting He was the Christ, that some
began to SPIT in His face. Some PUNCHED Him. Then others covered
His eyes with a blind-fold, and began to SLAP Him and PUNCH Him,
saying to Him, "All right you Son of God, you the Christ, work
your powers and tell us who it was that just hit you!" The big
strong guards wanted in on the action, and they also began to hit
Jesus with their hands and fists. All were mocking Him and
laughing at Him. Now that Jesus was blind-folded He could not
prepare Himself for their punches. They all landed on Him with
full force. He did not know when or where the slapping and
punches would come from.
Meanwhile down where Peter was, at the gateway by the porch
and courtyard, the servant maid whose duty it was to look after
that area, the same servant maid who had allowed Peter to enter
into the courtyard, after the other disciple had talked to her,
was able to see Peter close at hand and for a longer time. She
also said to others standing there, "This man was with Jesus of
Nazareth. He is one of his disciples."
"I tell you with an oath, I do not know this man called
Jesus," Peter shouted out. The cock crowed.
Peter once more nervous, made his way back into the
courtyard area, still keeping his head low, as not to be seen. An
hour or so had gone by since Jesus had been brought to the palace
of the High Priest. Then a servant of the High Priest, a blood
relative to the man whose ear Peter had cut off in the garden of
Gethsemane, and who had heard Peter speaking as he denied ever
knowing Jesus, said to Peter, "I know you are one of this man's
disciples. I saw you in the garden of Gethsemane with him, and
your accent also bears this out, for you are from the Galilee
area, where this Jesus is from."
"May my head of hair turn white," Peter began to loudly
protest, "if I know this man. May the house of my parents crash
down around them if I am lying. May I drop dead on the spot, if I
do not tell the truth. I do NOT know this man from Galilee, who
you speak about!" Peter was now invoking various curses upon
himself and swearing vehemently that he in no way knew this man
Then as Peter finished his last words, the cock crowed a
second time. Like a sharp two edges knife cutting into his heart,
Peter remembered at the sound of the cock once again crowing,
that Jesus had said to him, "Before the cock crows twice, you
will deny knowing me three times."
It was now way too much for Peter to bear, as Jesus looked
down from above (the blind-fold having been removed from His
eyes) at him standing in the courtyard, knowing that Jesus knew
he had denied knowing Him three times, indeed before the cock had
Peter was shattered, he felt like he would break apart into
a thousand pieces. He found himself a lonely spot in the court
area, leaned forward, put his head in his hands and cried like a
baby. He had denied his Lord, his Master, his Savior. He wept and
he cried some more.
As Peter was crying his heart out, the assembly of scribes,
Pharisees, elders, and priests, up on the second floor were
making the decision to put Jesus before the whole Jewish council,
the great Sanhedrin. It was close to daybreak, the sun was coming
up, and soon it would appear over the horizon. Now it would be
easy to call all the members of the Sanhedrin together and bring
Jesus before them all, at Caiaphas' palace.
Word was soon sent that an emergency council meeting was
needed, and before long Jesus stood before the great council of
the Jews. They once more asked Him, "If you are the Christ, then
"If I tell you again," Jesus answered, "you will still not
believe me. You haven't believed me at any time. But the Son of
man will be seated at the right hand of God."
They all said, "So you are the Son of God then?" And Jesus
said to them, "You've said it."
The council members then replied, "Oh, what further
testimony do we need? We have heard this man blaspheme with his
own voice, from his own lips. We need to bring him before Pilate,
and get Rome's permission to put him to death." The Jews could
not put anyone to death without permission from the Roman
authorities, that was the one thing the Romans would not allow
the Jews to do. The Romans allowed the Jews freedom to practice
their religion in pretty well all aspects save putting people to
It was now morning, the sun was just up over the horizon,
when they led Jesus away to the Roman governor called Pilate
(Mat.26: 57 to 27: 1; Mark 14: 53-72; Luke 22: 53-71; John 18:
Written January 2003