Summary: Sermon #10 in John series dealing with Jesus’ trial before Annas (mentioned only in John)
John’s Gospel #14 An Innocent Man
CHCC: April 6, 2008
Have you ever been accused of something when you were completely innocent? The time that stands out in my mind was a traffic ticket. Now don’t get me wrong … I’ve had plenty of traffic tickets when I was pretty much guilty. But this time, I was completely innocent.
When pulled over for speeding (I was guilty as charged of that violation) they also charged me with a seat belt violation because I had removed my seat belt after being pulled over to get my wallet out of my hip pocket. I was willing to pay the fine for the speeding violation, but unwilling to take the rap for the seat belt violation. I had three witnesses in the car who could testify to my innocence and I went to court along with them and a lawyer who convinced the judge to drop the charge.
I was completely innocent of that seat-belt violation… but that doesn’t make me an “innocent man.” Of all the men who ever lived, only ONE deserved the title “innocent man.” Jesus was the only person to live His entire life without doing anything wrong. Yet, He was arrested, tried, convicted, tortured, and condemned to a death reserved for the worst of all criminals.
When you put the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John together, you see that Jesus endured a total of SIX trials before he was crucified. Three of those trials were before Jewish Religious Leaders … and three were before Roman Civil Authorities. Only John tells about this first trial … and since we’re in a series from the book of John, that’s the trial we’re going to focus on today.
But first, let’s review the events that led up to this night:
• On Sunday, Jesus entered into Jerusalem in triumph– hailed as KING by huge crowds. The religious leaders got nervous.
• On Monday, Jesus drove the merchants and money-changers out of the Temple. The religious leaders were furious.
• On Tuesday, the religious Leaders publicly challenged Jesus in the Temple. He came out looking good, and they came out looking foolish. So they tried to stone him, but Jesus escaped unharmed.
• On Wednesday, Jesus continued to teach in the temple. Meanwhile, the Religious leaders schemed in secret, searching for a way to secretly arrest Jesus. At some point … that day, probably … Judas Iscariot agreed to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of Silver.
• On Thursday, Jesus met with his disciples for their Passover Celebration in the upstairs room of a Jerusalem home. We’ve come to call this “The Last Supper.”
After celebrating the Passover meal with His disciples, Jesus suggested they walk to their familiar retreat at the base of the Mount of Olives, a garden called Gethsemane. Jesus knew what Judas was up to. He also knew that He was beginning a long, torturous ordeal which would lead to an agonizing death on a cross. He spent His last night of freedom praying for courage to carry out His Father’s will.
Sometime during the night, a cohort of Roman soldiers and several Jewish officers quietly surrounded the garden. As soon as Judas greeted Jesus with a kiss the assailants walked out of the shadows to arrest Jesus. Jesus offered no resistance. When Peter pulled out his sword, to fight for his friend, Jesus ordered him, "Put back your sword. Do you think for a minute I’m not going to drink this cup the Father gave me?" John 18:11 (The Message)
Here’s what happened next: Then the Roman soldiers under their commander, joined by the Jewish police, seized Jesus and tied him up. They took him first to Annas, father-in-law of Caiaphas. Caiaphas was the Chief Priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it was to their advantage that one man die for the people. John 18:12-13 (The Message)
They took him first to Annas … Annas was the head of a large, bold, unscrupulous, and degenerate family who served as Priests in Israel. The name Annas doesn’t mean much to us, but the people of that day knew this man was like “the godfather” of a religious kind of mafia.
1. The “godfather”
Annas had been appointed High Priest back around the time of Jesus’ birth. In that position, he had the same kind of power as a King might have. He held the position for about 10 years. During that time he built up a corrupt sort of empire. Annas and his family grew incredibly rich off of the proceeds of the Temple. After Annas was removed from the position of High Priest, he continued to wield power through his son Eleazar, and later through his son-in-law, Caiaphas.