It is Thursday evening, and the crucifixion will happen on Friday. Jesus is meeting with his disciples in the last meal, and in it, giving them instructions and assurances, and again predicting his death. Much of this did not register with the disciples, as indicated by their responses upon his arrest and desertion after the sham trial. But Jesus has some final lessons for his disciples, which will shape them and the early church after his resurrection and departure to heaven. Jesus now moves from his last meeting with his disciples, to his private prayer with God the Father in the garden, to the betrayal by Judas and the first of his two sham trials with the rulers of the Jews.
Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.” 22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded. 23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. John 18:19-24.
- Jesus’ Betrayed by Judas, But Protecting the Disciples. As had been predicted both in the Old Testament and by Jesus at the Last Supper, Judas brings a contingent to find Jesus and have him arrested. Judas traded his sham allegiance to Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, but overcome with guilt, killed himself shortly after the betrayal. Yet Jesus successfully requested that he alone be arrested, protecting his disciples and fulfilling the promise with the Father that ‘he had lost none that were given to him.’
- The Evil Twin Rulers of the Jews – the High Priest and His FIL. Jesus is first brought to Annas and the high priest Caiaphas. Without equivocation, Jesus admitted to his teachings, and invokes his legal rights by requesting witnesses to confirm his testimony. Rather than following legal protocol, Jesus is struck by his captors for his speaking the truth. Jesus rightly relies on the Truth of what he has said: If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?
- The Separate Agenda in this First Trial. But the evil twins had a separate agenda. Their plan was to sacrifice one person to satisfy the mob. Caiaphas had advised the Jews that it would be good for one man to die for the people. So in this first trial – the dye was cast – and the Jews, ignoring Jesus’s truthful statements, invocation of the process of bringing witnesses, and subjecting him to physical abuse – led him both to the Jews confirmation with the high priest, and ultimately to the Romans for the second trial, who had the power of sentencing to life or death.
Jesus, both in fulfilling his purpose in Life, leading to the cross, and in obedience to the will of God the Father, which required a payment for the sins of the world, has three overwhelming events in quick succession – the betrayal by Judas and his arrest, the first sham trial before the Jews, and next the almost incomprehensible denial of Jesus by Peter. We will look at issues of failures in our lives and second chances next week. Stay well.
(Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain Image/Antonio Ciseri)