Caiaphas, The High PriestPrincipal Characters Involved Against Jesus
Day Five (Continues)
The Illegal Trial Of Jesus Christ
Ms Suzy, Jurist in this courtroom:
Ms Susy adjust her glasses and walks to the center of the room. She calmly begins her dissertation of the moment...
Of all the men mentioned in the story of the trials and subsequent crucifixion of the Christ, it must be admitted that Caiaphas, the high priest, was the most despicable.
And, in making this appraisal of him, we are not unmindful of the treachery of the great betrayer, Judas Iscariot. To be sure, the high priest was even more corrupt.
For eleven years, from 25 A. D. he remained in that lofty position in Judea; and was at all times completely devoid of ethics, honor, fairness, and common decency!
And his close friendship with Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor, was grounded upon the proposition that they had this much in common- a deep hatred for the Christ, whose teachings they scoffed with an abiding venom.
Both were political cowards- men who dreaded the thought of having their heads removed from the public trough!
As the presiding judge of the Jewish court, called the Great Sanhedrin, he was required to take a solemn oath, under the existing Jewish laws, to at all times assume an attitude of impartiality toward every accused person brought before the court; and to manifest complete indifference as to the results of any trial therein; that he would not serve as the presiding officer should there arise a case in which there existed enmity toward the accused.
But not that fellow!
Being unable to restrain himself, and hide, to some appreciable degree, his deep prejudice toward and hatred of Jesus Christ, we find him even before the arrest was made, conspiring to murder Christ- and seeking false witnesses to appear before the court, against the Master!
And that is not the end to his corruption.
Next we note that he, the presiding judge of the court, personally makes the charges against Jesus of "blasphemy," and then has the gall to announce, in open court, that there was no need for witnesses! Then, as further evidence of his utter unfitness and complete lack of judicial temperament, he begins to tear his own garments from his shoulders to his waistband.
Matthew records how Caiaphas conducted himself as the presiding Judge of that court:
"Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying: He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now ye have heard His blasphemy! What think ye? They answered and said: He is guilty of death!"
When Jesus replied to the direct inquiry as to whether He was the Christ, the Son of God, and gave an affirmative answer, He was denounced as a blasphemer. Utterly ridiculous!
And, with the open approval of this same high priest, the members of the court, in complete disregard of existing laws, deliberately and cowardly spit into the face of Jesus,
(Jurist pauses with tears in her eyes and obviously choked up with emotion)
and buffeted Him; and others smote Him with the palms of their hands, saying:
"Prophesy unto us, Thou Christ, who is he that smote Thee?"
And with all of that display of rage and temper and ill-will, the high priest was not yet contented. He can now be seen leading the bound and bleeding Christ over to the palace of Pilate, in the dire hope of obtaining a speedy approval of their unholy and unlawful verdict that the Christ should die, because of the accusation of blasphemy!
And, before the procession starts upon its journey for the second trial, they place a sharp crown of thorns upon the head of the Master and strike Him several blows upon the head, so as to insure the deep embedding of the thorns into His precious brow.
Hence, He is led to Pilate, because His eyes are by now filled with blood!
What a judge!
What a trial!
Somewhere, in the old Jewish law, there is this wise and true maxim:
(Said in more respectable terms than the way it was actually originally said)
"A disreputable and corrupt judge is to be no more respected than the sweat from the blanket of a jackass!"
Indeed, Judas Iscariot betrayed his best friend for filthy silver- and in full remorse, hanged himself- but this Caiaphas committed the greater sin. He utterly and forever disgraced the high office of high priesthood through his cowardly and vile conduct as the presiding official in the supreme court of Jewry!
Moreover, he became a deliberate law-violator in the following respects:
1. He knew that his heart was filled with poisonous enmity for the Master, but continued to serve and to preside at that trial, after having taken an oath that he had no such enmity toward the accused.
2, His oath to be fair and impartial was made a mockery when he admitted being a party to the corrupt conspiracy with Annas and Judas to have Jesus betrayed into the hands of His enemies, in the nighttime.
3. He raped the law when he personally preferred the charge of "blasphemy," after Jesus had merely admitted being the Son of God!
4.He winked at justice and blinded his eyes to fairness and decency when he went out in search of those "false witnesses" to testify against the accused, in his own court.
5. Being learned in the law- which was a prerequisite to his assuming the duties of that high office- he pretended ignorance of the law which required the production of two witnesses, whose testimony must be in agreement, as to all material details embracing the charge against the accused.
6. He ignored the Jewish legal mandates that no trial be had at night, nor during the feast of Passover; or on a Friday!
7. It was he who called for the vote of the death penalty, and unlawfully recorded it, when the Jewish law, with which he was entirely familiar, prohibited the imposition of the sentence of death. The Roman conquerors had, long before, denied them such authority.
8. He painted a picture of bestiality and contempt by deliberately tearing his own robe in the court room, and then permitting his cowardly cohorts to spit into the face of the prisoner; to strike Him, and ridicule Him with other modes of cruelty, such as forcing into His brow that thorn-covered crown-as a symbol of Kingship.
And it was he who, before Pilate, raised the loudest voice for the release of Barrabas, and for the demand that Jesus be crucified. Still not appeased, he gave minute directions to the Roman soldiers for that commission of further acts of brutality while Jesus was prostrate and suspended on the cross!
One can easily get a mental picture of the smirking countenance of Caiaphas as the Christ begged for a few drops of water to cool the raging fever of His parched throat, and received, instead, a sponge soaked in vinegar, while awaiting for his helpless victim to give up the Spirit!
How do you suppose that the high priest really felt on that Friday afternoon, on Calvary's hill, when, standing at the foot of the cross, he heard fall from the lips of the dying Christ that sincere and fervent prayer for forgiveness- upon the premise that His murderers knew not what they were doing?
And what reaction, if any, did Caiaphas have when the earth began to quake, and the lightning began to strike, and he knew that Jesus had died- and he heard one of the murderers, a Roman soldier, say:
"Truly this Man was the Son of God!"
The world will ever remember, with justified disgust and contempt, the sad spectacle of that vicious, immoral, cruel, inhuman, cowardly, prejudiced, unfit, disreputable "judge" of the highest Jewish court who delighted in leading the frenzied mob in its base acts of brutality and cold-blooded murder!