As was pre-planned, Judas, seeing Jesus, ran up and greeted Him with “Master, Master,” and kissed Him on the cheek. Jesus looked at Judas and said, “Judas, betrayeth thou the Son of Man with a kiss?”
The soldiers who had fallen to the ground were still stunned and as they regained their composure, Peter pulled his sword from its sheath and cut off the ear of one of the soldiers. He was immediately rebuked by Jesus and told to put his sword up. The Lord then restored the ear of Malchus, a servant of the high priest, and, turning to the band who had come to take Him to the high priest, He said, “Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and with staves to take Me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple and ye laid no hold on Me.” With those words, the soldiers took Jesus and bound Him and led Him away to Annas, father-in-law of Caiaphas the then high priest.
All the Disciples, Mark notes in Mark 14:50, forsook Jesus at this point and fled. Peter also fled but soon turned back, with John, to follow afar off to see what would become of their Lord.
It was before dawn on Friday, the day of Jesus’ death (by Jewish reckoning, any part of a day would be considered a day and a night, thus the crucifixion was on Friday, rather than Wednesday, cf. Mark 15:42.) The soldiers led the peaceful prisoner first to Annas. Jesus was led into the presence of the former high priest while most of the soldiers who had taken Him captive waited in the hall outside where a fire had been kindled so that the pre-dawn chill could be broken. It was at that fire that Peter stood warming his hands when a young maiden saw him and recognized him as a follower of Jesus, and when she asked him if he were not with them in the Garden, Peter flatly denied it. Going out to the adjoining porch, Peter heard, almost unconsciously, the cock crew. A short while later, another maiden said, “This is one of them,” as she pointed out Peter, and again he denied it vehemently. About an hour later, others of the soldiers said to Peter, “Surely you are a Galilean and a follower of this Jesus—your speech gives you away.” At that Peter said, “I swear unto you, I do not know this man!” The words had barely fallen from his lips before the cock crew the second time, and instantly the fisherman follower remembered the earlier prediction of His Master: “Peter, before the cock crew twice, thou shalt deny Me thrice.” Peter, when he had thought upon that, went out and wept bitterly.
While Peter was denying Jesus outside Annas’ house, the former high priest and father-in-law of the then ruling high priest, Caiaphas, was inside questioning Jesus concerning His disciples and His doctrines. Jesus’ reply was straightforward: “I spake openly in the world; I taught in the synagogue and in the temple-in secret have I said nothing. Why do you ask me? Ask them which heard me what I have said to them, they know what I said.”
An officer of the high priest, thinking Jesus’ reply to be disrespectful, struck the Savior with the palm of his hand and said, “Dare you talk so to the high priest?” Jesus said, “If I have spoken evil, then bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you smite me?”
Jesus was then taken from before Annas to Caiaphas the high priest where He was further interrogated. False witnesses were sought and two were finally found who came and accused Jesus by saying that He had said, “I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.” Jesus made no reply, and Caiaphas, pressing Him to answer said, “I adjure Thee by the living God that Thou tell us whether Thou be the Christ, the Son of God.” “Thou hast said,” was Jesus’ reply. Caiaphas, upon hearing those words, rent his clothes and exclaimed, “He hath spoken blasphemy! What further need have we of witnesses? What do you think?” he asked his hastily convened council. They said, “He is guilty of death.” Those standing by began to spit on His blindfolded face and slap Him, saying, “Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, who is he that smote Thee?”
It was early Friday morning, just after dawn, when Caiaphas ordered Jesus to be taken bound to Pontius Pilate.
Officers of the High Priest led Jesus to Pilate’s Judgment Hall. Judas Iscariot, having had second thoughts about what he had done in betraying Jesus, hastened in the meantime to the council with the thirty pieces of silver that they had given him: “I have sinned,” he said, “in that I have betrayed innocent blood.” The priests were not interested in either Judas’ confession or his money, and they bade him leave. Matthew tells us that Judas went out and hanged himself.
It was in Pilate’s judgment hall that Jesus was first asked by the Roman governor, “Art Thou the King of the Jews?” The Savior did not deny it, but said simply, “Thou sayest.” Pilate’s initial response was that he could find no fault with Jesus, so he ordered Him to be taken to Herod, for Jesus was from Galilee and Herod had jurisdiction of Galilee.
Herod was glad for the opportunity to interrogate Jesus Christ, for he had heard much about Him and had hoped to see one of His famous miracles. This was not to be though, and silence was the only response that Herod received from each of his questions to Jesus. Distraught, he and his soldiers began to mock Jesus, putting a gorgeous robe upon Him, and calling Him, in jest, a King. Their sport ended, they sent Him back to Pontius Pilate.
Bringing Jesus back to the Roman governor, Pilate was ready with his first question of those who led the prisoner: “What accusation bring ye against this man?” They who would settle for nothing less than Jesus’ death assured Pilate that this man was indeed a malefactor, and that since the Jews could not lawfully put any man to death, he would have to give the order. Pilate went back to his judgment hall and calling for Jesus, asked Him, “Art Thou the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “Thou sayest I am a King. To this end was I born and for this cause came I into the world: that I should bear witness of the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”
Pilate said, “What is truth?” Pontius Pilate again went out and addressed the crowd: “I find in Him no fault. You have a custom that I shall release unto you one at the Passover. Will ye therefore that I should release unto you the King of the Jews?”
“No, not this man, but Barabbas. Release Barabbas the robber” the crowd clamored!
A hand written note, hurriedly scrawled by Pilate’s wife, was delivered to the governor at about this time on which she had written these words: “Have nothing to do with this just man. I have this day suffered many things in a dream because of Him.”
The crowd, spurred on by the chief priests, continued to cry for the release of Barabbas. Seeing that they would settle for no less, Pilate had Jesus scourged with a cat of nine tails. Soldiers made a crown of thorns and pressed it upon His brow, and a purple robe was wrapped around His body as they jeered Him with “Hail, King of the Jews!” Some slapped Him with their hands. Thinking the crowd’s thirst for blood would by then be appeased, Pilate brought Jesus, in His purple robe and crown of thorns, His face bloody and His back both bloody and bruised from the brutal beating, before the mob and said, “Behold the man!” “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” was their response.
Disgusted and desperate, Pontius Pilate sent for a basin of water to be brought, and he dipped his hands into the water before the chief priests, declaring that he would not be responsible further for what would happen to this innocent man. “I find no fault in Him.” “His blood be upon us and upon our people,” the Jews shouted.
Once more, Pilate questioned Jesus: “Whence art Thou?” No answer came forth.
Pilate: “Why aren’t you answering me—don’t you know that I have power to crucify you or to release you?”
Jesus: “You could have no power except it were given thee from above.”
(To be continued)