The Gospel of John
1. There were six phases in the trial of our Lord, three of them being Jewish or religious, and three of them being Gentile or civil.
2. First, John tells us our Lord was brought before Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest (John 18:12-14, 19-24). Then, our Lord was brought before Caiaphas (Matthew 26:57). John is the only Gospel writer who tells us of our Lord being taken before Annas, and he skips over the trial before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin (cf. John 18:24, 28).
3. In Matthew 27:1, we read, “When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people (the Sanhedrin) took counsel against Jesus to put Him to death.”
4. I mentioned that our Lord also faced three Gentile or civil trials. We do not have the time to look at all of them tonight, but I am referring to Pontius Pilate, and then Herod, and then Herod sent our Lord back to Pilate again.
5. Tonight, we will look at our Lord’s trial before Annas, and Caiaphas the high priest.
I. CAIAPHAS WAS THE SON-IN-LAW OF ANNAS.
1. It is only John who mentions that our Lord was first brought before Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas (John 18:12, 13, 24; cf. Luke 3:2).
2. In Acts 4:6, Annas is identified as “the high priest.” Yet in John 11:49, Caiaphas is said to be “the high priest that same year.”
3. There have been various theories as to why there were two high priests. Annas served as the high priest before Caiaphas. Several of his sons followed him in the high priest’s office besides his son-in-law Caiaphas.
4. Some Bible teachers feel that Caiaphas was the actual high priest during the time of our Lord‘s crucifixion (he is more prominent), but that because his father-in-law Annas was older and more experienced he served in that office along with his son-in-law Caiaphas.
5. Alfred Edersheim said: “The conjunction of the two names of Annas and Caiaphas probably indicates that, although Annas was deprived of the Pontificate, he still continued to preside over the Sanhedrin” (The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Vol. 1, p. 264).
6. Notice Edersheim’s use of the word “pontificate.” Other Bible teachers have used it in this context. The word goes back before Christ and is of pagan origin. There is absolutely no Biblical basis for it.
7. Both Annas and Caiaphas were wicked and cunning men who hated our Lord and were responsible for having Him put to death. They are vivid examples of worldly, false religionists.
8. Before moving on, let us consider Caiaphas’ prophecy in John 11:50. I use the word “prophecy” intentionally because the apostle John, guided by the Holy Spirit, says in John 11:51, “And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation.”
9. Even though our Lord was bound and interrogated by wicked men, there was no sign of defeat, because His betrayal, arrest, trial, and crucifixion were all part of the fulfillment of the eternal purposes of God (cf. Acts 2:23).
10.When Annas asked our Lord about His disciples and His doctrine (18:19), it was only because he felt threatened by them. Annas and Caiaphas were not interested in the truth.
11.According to the OT law, the high priest was to serve until death. But when the Roman government took over Israel, they made the high priest an appointed office. This way they would be certain of having the right kind of worldly, political hacks they could control. Such men were Annas and Caiaphas.
II. CAIAPHAS WAS A WICKED LIAR AND MURDERER (MATT. 26:3-5).
1. Note the word “subtilty” (Matt. 26:4; cf. Genesis 3:1). Matthew 26:4 says Caiaphas and his fellow religionists planned to kill our Lord (cf. John 8:44).
2. False religionists follow the devil, not God. There are many Scriptures which teach this (cf. II Cor. 11:13-15).
3. I read in What in the World! That a United Church of Christ congregation in Pennsylvania has placed this Scripture verse prominently on their web site: “If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine” (Luke 4:7). These are words Satan spoke to Jesus during His temptation in the wilderness.
4. So Caiaphas and his religious cohorts were just doing the devil’s work when they put our Lord on trial. Their whole trial was a mockery. The verdict was already prearranged (cf. John 11:49-51). Besides, the whole procedure was illegal, as they were not to hold trials like this in the dead of night.
5. W. Graham Scroggie wrote, “Never was justice more grossly perverted than in these so-called trials of Jesus” (The Gospel of John).
6. Caiaphas and his religious cohorts tried to produce false testimony against our Lord (Matt. 26:59; cf. 26:3-5; 15:19).
7. In this they failed, for the false witnesses were not in agreement (Matt. 26:60). Mark’s account is a little clearer (14:55-59).
8. “At the last came two false witnesses” (who agreed) -- (Matt. 26:60b). They twisted our Lord’s words (Matt. 26:61; cf. John 2:19-22).
9. Next, Caiaphas arose and said to our Lord, “Answereth thou nothing?” (Matt. 26:62). “But Jesus held His peace” (26:63). The prophet Isaiah wrote, “He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth” (Isa. 53:7).
10. Next, Caiaphas put our Lord under oath and asked Him if He was indeed the Christ (Messiah), the Son of God (Matt. 26:63b).
11. Our Lord answered in the affirmative, and added that He would return to earth in power and majesty (Matt. 26:64; cf. Dan. 7:13, 14; Matt. 24:30; Rev. 1:7).
12. Instead of considering the evidence (which would have meant the difference between heaven and hell), Caiaphas put on a little show, rending his robes, and accusing our Lord of blasphemy (Matt. 26:65, 66; cf. Lev. 21:10).
13. According to the law, those who committed blasphemy deserved the death penalty (Lev. 24:16). But our Lord did not blaspheme.
III. CAIAPHAS BROUGHT OUR LORD TO PONTIUS PILATE (JOHN 18:28; cf. MATT. 27:1, 2).
1. Since Caiaphas had no authority under the Roman government to inflict the death penalty, all he could do was allow his religious cohorts to spit in our Lord’s face and rough Him up (Matt. 26:67, 68). This abuse was contrary to both Jewish and Roman law.
2. Luke 22:64, 65 says “when they had blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face, and asked Him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote Thee? And many other things blasphemously spake they against Him” (cf. Matt. 15:19).
3. It is amazing to think of how they hated our Lord. This too was a fulfillment of OT Messianic prophecy (Isa. 50:6).
4. When the morning came, they bound our Lord and brought Him to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor (John 18:28; cf. Matt. 27:1, 2). The Jews did not like Pilate because he was a wicked and brutal man (Luke 13:1-3), but because they hated Jesus so much they were willing to work with him.
5. I have emphasized that Caiaphas is a picture of a wicked, unregenerate false religionist. These sort of men are worse than your average run-of-the-mill sinners. They are the worst sort of hypocrites as our Lord taught in Matthew 23. John brings out another example of their wicked hypocrisy (John 18:28). These men would not go into the Gentile judgment hall lest they be defiled and unable to eat the passover, yet they had no qualms about bringing in false witnesses to lie about our Lord, and no qualms about killing Him even though they knew He was innocent. This is a picture of worldly religion.
6. I got into a little debate over these issues with a Jewish rabbi a few years ago. He was furious with me.
1. Some have wondered how wicked unsaved men like Caiaphas will see our Lord “sitting on the right hand of power”? (Matt. 26:64). I have wondered about it myself.
2. Our Lord was referring to the day when Caiaphas and all his fellow lost religionists will be judged (cf. Matt. 25:31-33, 41, 46).