You will recall that Annas was the lawful but deposed high priest, and that the Jews made a great point of the fact by bringing Christ before him rather than before the unlawful hand-picked Roman choice, Caiphas.
Our Lord, by His direct and clear answers, disarmed Annas completely, and so, to save face, Annas directed that Christ be arraigned before Caiphas. Hence the Savior was bound and sent off to the home of the quisling Caiphas, where the scribes and elders had gathered. Here the ordeal was much worse for Christ. One only has to picture the rage and deceitfulness etched on the faces of Caiphas and his council to know how biased such a court session would be. He would certainly never be able to find justice or mercy here.
Under the guise of making it legal, the Elders and Scribes had hastily called the whole Sanhedrin, whose full complement was seventy-two members, representing equally the three groups of priests, Scribes, and Elders. The function of this council was to take cognizance of grave matters of a doctrinal, judicial, or administrative character affecting the Jewish religion and nation. They had neglected nothing, for they had even secured the services of witnesses. When any good lawyer examines the records of the trial of Christ before the Sanhedrin it is obvious that the witnesses contradicted each other, and time and again, contradicted themselves (cf. Mk. 14:56). For instance, two witnesses stepped up before the court and said: “He said, and we heard Him say: ‘I can destroy the temple and in three days I can rebuild it.”
One witness said that Christ’s words were: “I can destroy,” the other said His words were: “I will destroy.” The important thing is that St. John gave us the exact words of Christ, which were “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (3:19). We know, and they did too, that Christ did not mean the material temple in Jerusalem, but His own body.
Oh, how wicked men can be to falsify Christ’s own words and use them against Him! For any one to presume to think that he could destroy the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem was the very handle of blasphemy Christ’s enemies wanted to hang on Him. Consider this base deceit in our Lord’s enemies who concealed their hatred and envy under the cloak of zeal for God’s glory. Ask yourself this question, if you have not sometimes under the mask of anxiety for God’s glory, vented on your neighbor sentiments of anger and aversion. Ask yourself if you have not put words in the mouth of a person you disliked to make him out to be evil in the eyes of others.
Remember, too, that all this took place in the house of the high priest. Ask yourself, whether you have always reserved for God’s house the respect and reverence it deserves. Christ’s enemies found no hardship in gathering there at midnight to abuse and mock the Son of God. How often have you resented the few moments you are required to give to the worship and love of your Prisoner God in the tabernacle?
See how you can spread devotion to the Passion by assisting in the campaign to provide my publication of meditations on the Passion written by a Passionist priest for novices. May this little effort of ours bear much fruit in the reform of the Church, starting with our own souls and the souls of as many future priests we can reach! Find more information out at the BOOKS4SEMS campaign.
*From Reflections on the Passion by Father Doyle