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After being arrested and bound (Joh 18:12, 24), Jesus was first taken to Annas. This had to be around 4 a.m. Disturbing Annas at this hour shows the urgency and secrecy the religious leaders planned to execute Jesus. They wanted Jesus before Pilate before the city awakened and Jesus' followers could come to his defense. What the religious leaders didn't know was the urgency they felt was actually from God. What they didn't know was this was the day God had planned from the creation of the world (Rev 13:8) to slay the Lamb of God. The leaders thought they were ridding themselves of a problem. Instead, God was saving the world and would rid the world of the problem - them.
Who was Annas? Annas was once the high priest and according to the Law of Moses should remain high priest until death. However, Caesar would not allow one man to remain as high priest. One man would obtain too much power. A new high priest was to be appointed every year, so Annas appointed his sons and son-in-law as high priest. He became the mafia godfather overseeing the corrupt temple operation Jesus despised and called a "den of robbers" (Luke 19:46). John fills in some information for us.
John 18:19-22 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his DISCIPLES and his teaching. "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. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said." When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby STRUCK HIM IN THE FACE. "Is this the way you answer the high priest?" he demanded.
Meanwhile, as Peter disowned the Lord he'd sworn to die for, Jesus was being drilled about his disciples and teaching. The Jewish leaders wanted the disciples also. Jesus took the questioning away from the disciples and back to himself. Ask some witnesses Jesus said. By Jewish law, everyone accused was to have a defense attorney and witnesses. Not once did Jesus have any. This was a kangaroo court. When Jesus said this, one of the officials struck him in the face. This was the first of many punches in the face Jesus received.
Put yourself in Jesus' position. You are arrested. Your hands are bound. You are innocent, but hated and despised by powerful people who get what they want and they want you tortured and dead. A national official punches you in the face with no reprimand from his superior standing there. What are some emotions you'd be experiencing? Certainly there would be anger. What about a more powerful emotion - fear? If anyone ever had the right to fear, it would have been Jesus at this moment. With his hands bound he was punched by a "brave" bully. I despise bullies. I despised them when I was young and I despise them now. Life is full of bullies. Children bully children. Husbands bully wives. Wives bully husbands. Houses are ruled by fear. What are we doing to our children? We bully our handicapped. Supervisors bully employees. I've been bullied as a pastor. Bullying is an attempt to dominate a person using fear. Something is always attempting to bully us and dominate us with fear. What is your bully? What is your fear? Fear is a bully. Fear is the most powerful issue you will ever face.
One of the most crippling aspects of life is fear. Fear stops us from moving on. Fear is the only thing capable of stopping you from doing what you desire to do in life and what God desires you to do. There is always something to fear. Experiencing fear is not the question. The question is what do you do with the fear you experience? Do you allow it to control you? Or do you control it? Do we allow fear to stop us? Or do we wade through the fear dealing with it? Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the presence of fear, but fear not stopping us. We do what we are to do while in fear. We do it through the fear. This is what Jesus did. In the direst of fear situations Jesus did what he must do through the fear.
John 18:23-24 "If I said something wrong," Jesus replied, "testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?" Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest.
Jesus did not say, "Oh I'm sorry. I didn't know what I was doing." No! He said you're not going to control me with your bullying fear tactics. Jesus stood tall and courageous in the middle of fear. Jesus was passed from bully to bully and fear to fear, but bowed to none. Still bound, Jesus was taken to Caiaphas, the official high priest that year and son-in-law of Annas for the second trial or indictment. Jesus was drilled and intimated again, but again, in the middle of fear, he didn't balk.
The members of the Sanhedrin council were summoned to meet at daylight. They did not allow any witnesses to testify for Jesus, but searched for witnesses to testify against Jesus (Mat 26:59-60) finally finding two who testified Jesus said he would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days. Though this was not what he said or meant (Joh 2:19-21), it didn't matter. This was no trial. It was a conspiracy, but not a conspiracy by the Jews. It was God's conspiracy. This day the innocent Lamb of God would be sacrificed. While waiting for daylight when council would meet, Jesus was placed under guard.
Luke 22:63-65 The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, "Prophesy! Who hit you?" And they said many other insulting things to him.
Bullying fear does intimidate, beat, and mock us. Fear blindfolds us and insults us as it did Jesus, but we continue doing what we must do as fear assaults us. We do it afraid. Fear will arrest us. Fear will punch you, intimidate, mock, and insult you. It's not will you experience fear. It's will you allow fear to stop you? Or, will you do it afraid?
I've told you of a situation years ago (nearly twenty now) when I went through a fearful time. Judy said when I would sleep my hand would quiver. It had my life arrested, mentally beating me, blindfolding me, mocking me, insulting me, but I didn't allow it to stop me. I did it afraid. It was then I learned to handle fear. You cannot allow fear to stop you. This is what Jesus did.
Luke 22:66 AT DAYBREAK the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was LED BEFORE THEM.
It was daybreak when the rooster crowed. This would be the moment Jesus was transferred into the council of the Sanhedrin court and "turned and looked straight at Peter" (Luk 22:61). God's timing is impeccable. We become anxious and fearful when things don't work out according to our timing. We've got to learn to trust God's timing and God's planning and not allow fear to control us. God knows exactly when the rooster will crow. Our part is not allowing fear to stop us.
To make the trial at least sound "legal," Jesus must be tried during the day according to Jewish law. At daybreak the council hurriedly met.
Luke 22:67-70 "If you are the Christ," they said, "tell us." ...They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?"
Jesus had an opportunity to get out of the dilemma. Had Jesus said, "No, I am not the Christ, and no, I'm not the Son of God," they may have ended the whole thing and Jesus would have been seen as a silly insane homeless fool. All he had to do was succumb to fear, but he didn't, he couldn't. He did it in spite of the fear. Let's read the passage.
Luke 22:67-70 "If you are the Christ," they said, "tell us." Jesus answered, "If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God." They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?" He replied, "You are right in saying I AM."
He didn't allow fear to stop him. Instead, he said a discussion was futile. They wouldn't believe him nor answer with reason. Jesus refused to engage in useless debate and argument only leading to more threats and fear. Don't you think if anyone could persuade them in an argument it would have been Jesus? It was simply useless to argue. They didn't want truth. They were bullying.
We've all experienced bullying arguments. We felt we were on trial, but knew it didn't matter what we said. They were not going to reason. I'm not as bad about this as I once was. I'm learning arguments settle nothing. As I remember, it was a Saturday morning and my study was at home then. Jehovah's Witnesses came to the door. Usually, I would simply not go to the door, but this morning... What I should have said was go away. Instead, I invited them in as Judy said, "What are you doing?" and took her coffee upstairs. They discovered they'd bitten off a little more than they could handle. Arguing is fun and I'm good at it, but what good did it do? They would not believe me. They would not answer me. Jesus taught about casting pearls before swine (Mat 7:6). He said don't do it. I'm slowly learning arguments are useless. If people want truth they will honestly ask. Jesus showed us this.
Jesus knows who he is. I think this is a large part of our problem. I recall when I was a young pastor I was insecure and extremely argumentative. I didn't know who I was. Today I don't have anything to prove. I know far better who I am. Though Jesus refused to argue, he did say, but I will tell you this "from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God." He said I'm not going to argue with you, but I know who I am. They asked, "Are you then the Son of God?" Jesus still refused to argue. He simply said, "You are right in saying I am." The "I am" was a reference to the eternal name of God given Moses at the burning bush (Exo 3:14). This was when his they went insane.
Luke 22:71 Then they said, "Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips."
Matthew 26:64-66 "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. "But I say to all of you: In the future YOU WILL SEE the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN." Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, "He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?" "He is worthy of death," they answered.
They did see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven. Their generation did not pass. What they did this moment sealed their doom. They, their children, and their grandchildren were annihilated in A.D. 70. What we judge and how we judge people and the things of God today will make a difference tomorrow for our children and our grandchildren. Be cautious in your judging and arguing. Be cautious in your bullying.
What about you and me? What bullies us? It's amazing how much life we allow fear to rob from us. You will always be faced with the bully called fear, but you can control it and keep going forward. What fear has arrested you, bound you, slapped you, mocked you, demanded from you, insulted you, and maybe stopped, or attempted to stop you from acquiring all life and God has for you? What will you do with the fear you've experienced? Will you control fear, or allow fear to control you? Will you, can you, do it afraid?