Tag Archives: Caiaphas

God’s Holiness

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.(Psalm 5:4 ESV)

God cannot abide ungodliness. He separates for eternity those who hate Him from those who love and obey Him. Yet, because of sin, none can work their way into eternity with God. Everyone is ungodly but some recognize their sin, realize the consequences and turn toward God in faith. God honors those who strive to come toward Him in obedience.

Wickedness is a word related to the word wicked first seen in Psalm 1. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked” (Psalm 1:1 ESV). David speaks, and Jesus affirms, that God has no delight, which means to take pleasure, in anything that contradicts His holiness. Evil means disagreeable, malignant, bad and describes the thinking of the heart of those who hate God. To dwell means to abide, stay, live and also means to stir up or quarrel and cause strife. God is not pleased with any who fight against Him, who disobey Him, yet seek to live with Him because of His generous and gracious nature. This statement, in Psalm 5:4, is reminiscent of the previous Psalm. “There are many who say, ‘Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!’” (Psalm 4:6 ESV).

Jesus delights in entering the House of His Father. Many who lived in the vicinity of the Temple would take advantage of the obedient sacrifices of the people for gain and profit. At the beginning of His earthly ministry, Jesus entered the Temple in Jerusalem during Passover week and drove out the vendors who had set up their wares in the courtyard of the Gentiles. The place was called Annas’ Bazaar. Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the High Priest.

In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”(John 2:14-16 ESV)

In this marketplace were vendors selling animals for the requisite sacrifices and money-changers who would exchange foreign currency for that used locally. Before a person could offer a sacrifice to God to fulfill their obligations under the law, the animal being sacrificed had to meet the requirements of the law. The animal had to be perfect, with no blemishes. Many people, traveling from great distances, could not bring an animal with them, so after they arrived they bought an animal to sacrifice. The prices for the animals were higher in the temple than anywhere else. Or, if they did bring an animal to sacrifice from their own possessions, a priest had to inspect the animal to ensure it was perfect and suitable for sacrifice. The inspecting priest would find something wrong with the animal and send the pilgrim to the vendor for an exchange and upgrade. Those pilgrims coming from other countries would have to exchange their currency for the local shekel, also at an exorbitant rate. Then they would have to buy an animal with the money left. In all of the exchanges many of the priest would receive a kickback. 

Jesus often visited the Temple often. It was customary for the Jewish people to come to Jerusalem once a year, during Passover, to celebrate God. Annas’ Bazaar was a daily event, for someone was always offering a sacrifice according to the law. Jesus was familiar with the marketplace within the Temple walls. His anger toward the desecration of the Temple had built over time.  At this Passover he took action against those buying and selling in the Temple courts.

He made a whip out of cords and began driving people from the Temple, attacking the vendors selling their wares. It was not that being a seller was wrong. It was that they were selling in the temple and overcharging people to the profit of the priests. He flipped over their tables. He dumped their money on the ground. Jesus violently disrupted the workings of the temple because of the evil dwelling in the house of God. God does not delight in wickedness and evil may not dwell with Him.

Notice what Jesus said when He drove them away. “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade” (John 2:16 ESV). Since His childhood Jesus identified the temple as the house of God and that God was His Father. “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49 ESV). He was His Father’s Son.“You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Psalm 2:7-9 ESV). Jesus was doing that which God had given Him to do.

During the first Passover week, at the beginning of His earthly ministry, Jesus shouted the message He was Messiah. He wrote the Laws of the sacrifices. The Temple was His house and that He was in control. He threw down the gauntlet and formally challenged the authority of the religious leaders of His people. His was not a true challenge but a statement of fact that He was their authority.

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A Secured Tomb

Jesus’ murder is complete. Caiaphas, the chief priest, and those who participated in the decision to have the Romans execute an innocent man have spent the night thinking about what had just occurred. It was Passover, the holiest Sabbath of the year. There verbal intent to Pilate was to celebrate Passover without the spectacle of dying people hanging on crosses outside of Jerusalem to offend God.

Passover originated when God brought His people out of Egypt. It is a day of remembrance. He wanted those who are His to concentrate on what He had done freeing His people from the slavery of the Egyptian nation. His last plague, the plague which broke the grip of Pharaoh on the people he enslaved, was the sudden death of all first born in the entire nation from the lowest slave to the highest official including his own first born son. Israel was exempted from the death of the first born in their homes when they spread the blood of a lamb on their doorposts before eating their meal while waiting expectantly to be freed. All of Israel was commanded by God to remember His deliverance every year.

Were these people remembering what God had done for them so long ago as God commanded? Had they prepared themselves to celebrate the historical event which solidified Israel as a nation with their own land? Were they even thinking about God?

Apparently, they were more concerned about what they had just done than in anything God had done. They were consumed in their thinking and feeling and actions in making sure Jesus stayed dead. Not that they thought Jesus would become not dead but that his disciples would make it look like he was resurrected. Remembering Jesus words, they paid attention only as far as it suited their emotional need to keep control of the people, they went back to Pilate with a request. They did not rest on the Sabbath as commanded by God but instead went and presented themselves to the executioner, a Greek, the Roman Governor on the day of the Passover. “The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate” [Matthew 27:62 ESV]. Whether they entered Pilate’s residence like they had done the day before or sent in a messenger to speak with him is unknown. What we do know is they gathered together and went to him as a group.

Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first. [Matthew 27:63-64 ESV]

They remember Jesus saying he would be resurrected which means they knew he would have to first die. Thinking Jesus’ disciples capable of engineering a lie of outrageous proportions they asked Pilate to secure the tomb for at least a few days. Did his disciples have a plan, could they even think of such a plan, where they would steal a corpse and then claim the corpse was still alive, or had never died, or was raised from death? Devious thinkers believe everyone as devious as they. There was no concept of what Jesus’ disciples were thinking or feeling. Jesus’ disciples followed a man the Chief priest and his followers considered an imposter making them as much like their teacher as they thought their teacher had been. Jesus was a fraud in their minds and hearts. His disciples were also frauds and capable of defrauding everyone in their lust for control. Jesus was deluded. So were his disciples. Perhaps if they had listened to all of the words of Jesus their thinking would have been different? But now that Jesus was dead they wanted his influence to die with him.

Pilate didn’t care about them or the man he executed, let alone anyone associated with them or Jesus. He gives them permission to do what they think necessary for whatever reason. Jesus was dead. He was not coming back to life. What anyone did with a dead body was no concern of his. His response shows his lack of caring. “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can” [Matthew 27:65 ESV]. Use your own guards. You’re not taking any of my men for such a silly request. Keep the corpse in the tomb. Don’t let anyone steal a dead body.

Caiaphas and those with him had obviously been thinking about what they could do. They had a plan to thwart the supposed preparation of the disciples to deceive everyone. They would lock the tomb with wax and a seal and post a group of armed men around it to keep anyone from opening the tomb. “So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard” [Matthew 27:66 ESV]. By sealing the tomb they would know if anyone broke the seal and could declare to the world the evidence of intent. By posting the guard they could keep anyone, even a mob, from approaching the tomb for any reason.

Jesus was dead. People saw him die. Jesus was buried, placed in a tomb by men from their own ranks. A huge stone was rolled in front of the tomb which would take many men to move. A seal was placed on the tomb. A guard was placed around the tomb to make sure the corpse in the tomb was not removed. How much more could be done?

Jesus was resurrected. What God does no one can stop.

Four Types of People

There were a number of identifiable types of people with similar characteristics witnessing Jesus’ crucifixion and death. They came by in groups or singly but could be easily classified into one of four groups. A few people who loved Jesus or many who hated him, and those who didn’t know him, didn’t care about him, and two who were crucified with him. Everyone present, who walked by that hill, who stood and watched or tried to ignore what was happening was affected by his death in some way.

Many people traveled into and out of Jerusalem and had to pass by the public place of execution. I visualize many simply lowering their heads and trying to ignore the suffering displayed for the world to see by those brutalized by the Romans. Many, I think having become desensitized to the suffering of the condemned ceased to care for any affixed to a cross. They faced too many almost daily acts of terror and in order to continue living a meaningful existence, especially to care for themselves, they could no longer empathize or sympathize with those who suffered. Taught, through gruesome exposure and the examples of their parents, relatives, friends and others, they lost, if they ever had, the idea another human, especially one they did not know, was valuable. Included in this large group are the Roman guards who had been taught to care for no one but Caesar and themselves.

Others, recognizing him, disfigured as he was, or being informed of who he was, reviled him. They had been taught in the same way but their hatred or apathy toward Jesus was shown in their decided lack of understanding of who he was. “And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross” [Matthew 27:39-40 ESV]. They vilified him. Some, remembering statements from the beginning of his public appearances threw his words back in his bruised and bleeding face. He had made, in their memory, extravagant claims which seemed impossible and fantastic. Some of these may have been the same false witnesses who accused him hours earlier, in the middle of night during the illegal and illegitimate trial. “Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days'” [Matthew 26:59-61 ESV]. Others may have just been walking by and picked up the derisive comments from those present.

Standing at a distance reveling in their handiwork were the ones who manipulated Pilate to murder an innocent man. These were the religious leaders charged with knowing, teaching and upholding the law of God. Even Caiaphas, the High Priest, was present. Having abandoned themselves to emotional false conclusions they exhibited the qualities and evidences of thugs. Considered thinkers, wise and knowledgeable in their abilities to remember the law and teach others to follow it they switched off their ability to reason and took up the characteristics of a barbaric and vulgar people. “So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him” [Matthew 27:41 ESV]. In the most real sense their mocking statements were not against Jesus but against God. Taking the core of Jesus’ teaching they twisted it and placed upon the words requirements they had to see in order to believe. Their words threw a test into God’s face demanding from Him fulfillment of their requirements before they would acknowledge truth. In their deepest selves they would never believe the truth even if the almost dead man hanging on the cross before them actually died and was then raised as he said he would.

Listen to their statements:

“He saved others; he cannot save himself.” This statement begs a question. Did Jesus want to save himself? In their minds the only legitimate and reasonable response to being crucified was the desire to get off the cross and escape the executioners. For them being saved is limited to the physical, temporary, touchable world and has nothing to do with the internal and eternal being of the person.

“He is the King of Israel.” This is not what Jesus said but it is what they heard. Jesus said his kingdom was from another place implying not geographic boundaries but “other” or spiritual boundaries reaching places unimaginable by the limited abilities of anyone. For them Jesus declaration of royalty was a lie. For Pilate Jesus’ agreeing to the question of royalty was lunacy. His coming resurrection is the evidence of reality.

“Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.” He will. They won’t.

“He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” [Matthew 27:42-43 ESV] Now they demand God work. Again, their statement begs another question. Does God desire to deliver Jesus in a way acceptable to them? They have set aside God’s known law by murdering an innocent man. His only “crime” was his words, which contradicted their teaching, and the undisputable (we will look at these in time) “miracles” he did in front of too many witnesses for them to refute. Their thinking, driven by their emotions and not their reasoning, says if Jesus is actually the son of God then God will not allow him to die in such a way.

Next to him, hanging from their own devices, soon to die were two criminals. “And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way” [Matthew 27:44 ESV]. Luke gives a different perspective. These perspectives are not contradictory just different. One of the men crucified with him, seeking his own deliverance from death, showing no remorse at the actions which condemned him, “railed” or vilified him, picking up the mocking words of those who hated Jesus. “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us” [Luke 23:39 ESV]! He did not care who Jesus was as long as the man could get them down and away. No one got down or away.

The other criminal, facing his own mortality, reasoned instead of reacted. He knew he had done wrong, violated known law, done criminal actions deserving death. He knew the sentence for his crimes was death. He also seemed to know something about God. “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation” [Luke 23:40 ESV]? He knew this other man. He didn’t know Jesus. Or, maybe he knew of Jesus. To fear God means to hold Him in high honor, with respect and reverence, as the One who is Judge. He knew he had done wrong in the eyes of Rome and of God. Until this moment he may have not cared. Seeing Jesus, an innocent man, subjected to the same punishment brought a conviction of the justice for his crimes but the unjust actions of the authorities toward Jesus. “And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong” [Luke 23:41 ESV].

Now he makes a surprising statement. This is probably the first truly extraordinary statement made by anyone from the time he was arrested in the middle of the night until now. Every other statement made and action done was the result of a logical progression of events or thought process. Of this man’s background and thinking we know almost nothing and have to assume much. We know he was a criminal deserving of death. He admits this. We know he has a concept of God, probably closely related to the Jewish idea and theology of the time because of his question to his dying colleague. But how and why he jumps to the next statement seems only an act of desperation, of grasping at straws, anything to give hope to a helpless man in a hopeless situation. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” [Luke 23:42 ESV]. Does he really believe Jesus is a king? Does he really believe Jesus is something other than a man, falsely accused, dying a slow torturous death on a cross a few feet away?

Jesus’ answer is just a startling as any he has given throughout the night and trial. Our question is not whether it is startling but if it is true. There is only one way to show the truth of any of Jesus’ statement. If what he said would happen actually happens then we can trust him to tell truth in all he says. “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” [Luke 23:43 ESV]. Jesus believes his own words. He knows something only he can know with ultimate certainty. Both men will soon be dead. For Jesus death is not final.

Among the people witnessing the horror of Jesus’ execution were some of those who followed him. These people loved him. Here is the final type of person who witnessed his death.

Simon of Cyrene

Pilate made a decision, one he did not want to make and argued against in a simple and foolish manner, but made anyway. He was the legal decision maker and the Jews could do nothing about his legal decision once made. Yet, he listened to the arguments, the accusations against Jesus, heard the charges against him change and change again, determined Jesus was not guilty, then agreed to have him executed. “So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted” [Luke 234 ESV]. But his giving in was not limited to murdering and innocent man. He exchanged Jesus’ life for that of a known murderer, one who justly deserved execution. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will” [Luke 23:25 ESV]. Those men who represented God’s law, a law which they concluded made them righteous before their Creator, asked someone they hated to release a man who would have been condemned under God’s law, who stood condemned under Roman law, so Jesus would be murdered. Caiaphas, the High Priest, and his fellow Jews, the religious leaders of God’s people, wanted Jesus murdered and argued for his execution.

Without belaboring the spectacle, Jesus was already half dead. He had been arrested in the middle of the night by a group of Temple guards who took him first to Annas, the father-in-law of the High Priest, Caiaphas his son-in-law. While in their custody Jesus was abused physically, emotionally and verbally. He was then delivered to Pilate who sent him to Herod, whose guards continued the physical and verbal abuse. Jesus was beaten and slapped and hit and spit upon. Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate who had him scourged by trained sadists, men who knew how to inflict the maximum amount of pain without causing immediate death. By the time Jesus is led away from this mob he is bleeding from wounds covering most of his body, is quivering from exhaustion, sliding into shock and had he been abandoned, left alone from then on, would probably have died anyway. But he is not dead. It is Roman custom the condemned, those facing crucifixion, carry their cross, or the cross-beam upon which they will be nailed with spikes, to the place of their execution. Jesus is forced to pick up a heavy beam and lug it through the streets of Jerusalem from Pilate’s judgment hall to the hill upon which he will ultimately die.

Jesus hasn’t the strength for this final act.

Roman soldiers have an authority throughout their territory, given them by the Emperor, which allows them to grab anyone they see, any of the local residents, and compel them to carry their load for a mile. This is something which was done daily in Rome’s Middle Eastern territories. Jesus is physically unable to carry his own cross-beam so the Roman guards snatch a by-stander, someone completely unawares, and force him to carry the burden. “As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross” [Matthew 27:32 ESV].

Jerusalem is filled with pilgrims this time of year, all coming to celebrate Passover in their “city of God.” Simon, probably one of these pilgrims, a Jew from Cyrene, is in the city, probably with his family because he is devote and wants to be there to worship his God. Cyrene is in Northern Africa, in Libya and is modern day Tripoli. He has come a long way, either on foot or by boat. I can only assume his mental and emotional state of mind and heart. It is the day before Passover, the reason he has come to Jerusalem. Called Preparation day, it is a day when devote Jews prepare their homes according to the teaching of Scripture to celebrate a historical fact in a way which helps them remember who they are before God. Not only are they to prepare their homes they are to prepare their hearts to worship God. Simon is doing this. He is in the streets of Jerusalem, not as a tourist but as one who will experience the moment of a lifetime before returning to his home. He may never come back. But then, he may have moved to Judea with his family so he and his would become more closely identified with their heritage. We do not know the circumstance if his being in Jerusalem. We can assume he was not there to witness, let alone participate in, a crucifixion.

As he moves through the streets of Jerusalem a crowd forms and he hears the shouts of a mob coming toward him. Curious and cautious he moves to one side. It is never a good idea to get in the way of a Roman procession, especially if the Roman troops have their swords drawn. Coming by him, he hears the weeping of women, the groaning of men condemned and the exhausted steps of one carrying a heavy load. If he is normal he will see Jesus, beaten and bleeding, bowed under the weight of a cross-beam and know the man is going to die horribly soon. Looking at him, shocked by what he sees, for no one deserves the treatment Jesus has endured, he watches as the man stumbles and falls. New to the city he may not know who Jesus is and certainly would not immediately recognize him if he did know. Turning toward the crowd a Roman soldier grabs Simon, points to the cross, and tells him to pick it up. If Simon resisted he would have been beaten or killed immediately. He picks up the piece of wood and shoulders it while the Romans drag Jesus to his feet and force him to move toward certain death. Simon will carry Jesus cross the rest of the way, its weight pressing into his shoulder, its rough splinters poking his hands and arms and cheek, its stink assaulting his nose, bringing tears to his eyes. Carrying this cross-beam, probably having been used before to execute others condemned by the Romans, made Simon unclean. He came to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Now, he could not.

If Simon did not know who Jesus was before he soon discovered who he was now. I cannot imagine anyone being thrown into his circumstance not wanting to discover all he can about the man driven behind him up a hill to his death. We know little about this man, but the document written by Mark, an eye-witness to the events, alludes to knowing him and at least two of his sons. “And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross” [Mark 15:21 ESV]. Is there any reason to disbelieve what is described in these documents? Is there a reason to suggest someone named Simon, who was from Cyrene, was not compelled to carry the cross-beam by the Romans as they drove Jesus to his death? Only those who do not want to believe the historical facts disregard the records and eye-witness testimony. Simon was a real man, carrying a real cross-beam so a real man named Jesus would be nailed to it with real spikes and dies a real death. This is all we know of Simon’s story but it is enough.

Honesty Ignored

Finally Caiaphas asks a straight forward question. “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God” [Matthew 26:63 ESV]. Up until this point Jesus has not answered any of their accusations. None of them were true. I do not know if he refused to dignify the accusations with a response, because they were not true, or he knew no defense would change their minds. Perhaps both. Caiaphas resorted to his last, best and final question. He demanded Jesus answer his question under oath to God. He saw only two possible answers from Jesus. Either he says “yes” in which case he accuses him of blasphemy, or he says “no” and he demeans Jesus as an imposter. In Caiaphas’ mind Jesus is either one or the other but he cannot be who he says he is.

In a way, Jesus affirms Caiaphas’ question. He does not come right out and say “Yes, I am Messiah.” Instead, he says “You have said so” [Matthew 26:64 ESV]. Luke gives a more elaborate response. “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer” [Luke 22:67-68 ESV]. Again, it does not matter what Jesus says or doesn’t say. They will not let him go. He will not allow them, or anyone, to put words in his mouth, to make him say something he did not say, or never would say. This is still true.

Jesus makes another prediction. We are deep in a study of his prediction of his death, burial and resurrection. All of the evidence says he was raised from the dead, just as he said he would. That prediction is true. He has predicted Peter will deny him three times before the first rooster crows in the wee hours of the morning. Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s denial was true. So is this prediction. Caiaphas has tried to put blasphemous words into Jesus mouth, forcing a confession which would give him an excuse to have Jesus condemned and executed. Jesus puts the words back into Caiaphas’ mouth. But he doesn’t stop there. He continues with an astounding prediction. “But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven” [Matthew 26:64 ESV].

This prediction has yet to happen. Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God but those in the world have not seen Him coming. Saying it is not true because it has yet to occur is illogical thinking. Too much time has passed for it to be immediately fulfilled. Like God saying to Adam the consequences of eating the forbidden fruit, dying you will die (“mûthdie “mûth” die, see Genesis 2:17), so Jesus states the ultimate occurrence, not the immediate. When Adam ate he began to die until he finally died. So, Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection means he has retaken his eternal place, set aside for a moment to accomplish something which shakes all creation. Caiaphas will see Jesus again, at death, and then death. Jesus predicts, because he knows, he will regain his place next to God, “at the right hand of Power” which is to say he is God. He predicts, or affirms, his control over all creation. He will come “on the clouds of heaven.”

Jesus tells Caiaphas he is God, he owns every created thing, and killing him will not stop him from being God or claiming all which is his. I am not going to try to justify the statements Jesus makes. His life, the evidence of his words, his teachings and predictions and works, the truth of his resurrection, are enough. Those who do not believe will not believe. All are told by God to examine the evidence honestly. But we can know there are many like Annas and Caiaphas who have made up their minds regardless of the evidence.

Caiaphas’ reaction is in keeping with his already made up mind. I have wondered if he practiced his indignation (kind of like athletes who practice their celebrations to get them right whenever they score). After tearing his robe (I wonder if he wore old clothing knowing he was going to rend his garment that night, or maybe he wore his best so the impact would be greater) he said “he has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy” [Matthew 26:65 ESV]. His words were spoken loudly, boastfully, forcefully, meant to show his utter contempt and hatred for Jesus. Blasphemy is the most serious charge which any may accuse another. It means the accused is attributing to himself or an idol that which belongs only to God. Jesus has been called a blasphemer before. From the beginning of his public appearances people had wanted to kill him because of his “blasphemy.” For them his “blasphemy” was His words and works which showed He is God in the flesh. In other words, they blasphemed when they refused to acknowledge him as who he is, attributing to something other than God the words and works of God.

If what he says is a lie then he is a blasphemer. If what he says is true then he is not. If what he says is a lie then the best anyone can do is to ignore him completely and seek truth. If what he says is true then we best not call his words a lie. Ignoring him because he is inconvenient only states he is a liar. Believing him demands the whole person, whom he has created for relationship with him, seek to know him both intellectually and intimately.

Once Caiaphas has given his judgment he affirms it with those standing near, all thinking and feeling like he that Jesus deserves death. “‘What is your judgment?’ They answered, ‘He deserves death'” [Matthew 26:66 ESV]. Jesus is now a convicted criminal, judged so by an illegal court held in the middle of the night by a judge and jury who had tried, judged, convicted and sentenced him long before he was brought before them.

What follows is exactly what is expected from an illegal court. Man’s desperate wickedness comes out in the abuse of Jesus. “Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, saying, ‘Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?'” [Matthew 26:67-68 ESV]. Once the prisoner is condemned to death he ceases to be human and worth only ridicule and torture. It is impossible to ignore the way someone made in the image of God, and even the Image of God, is treated once people are given permission to abuse. There are no fancy insults, no elaborate speeches. There is only abuse.