Having been bound, Jesus was taken to the house of one of the Jewish leaders, Annas. Annas is a special character in Jewish history. During the childhood of Jesus, Annas had been chosen for High Priest in Israel. This meant that he was a Levite, probably a descendant of Aaron. As High Priest, Annas had gained so much power that the Romans worried about his control of his countrymen, so they intervened ordering him to step down.
According to the Law, the High Priest was supposed to be a life position, so for the Romans to do this was a move that was in direct opposition to the customs and practice of the Jews. However, while Annas was still alive, he continued to maintain extensive power and influence, even though “officially” he was no longer the High Priest according to the Romans. For example, after Annas was forced to step down, the next seven high priests were all related to Annas; five of them were his sons, one was his grandson, and at the time of Christ’s crucifixion, Caiaphas, was his son-in-law.
Now, Jesus stood in front of Annas, who still was regarded by many to be the high priest since his untimely resignation by Roman coercion. This was to be a trial. Jesus was the defendant, and Annas the sole judge. Nowhere in Jewish law did this little midnight court find any precedent. Rather, everything about this proceeding was filthy, contaminated, and debauched. According to the law, the accused could not be convicted on his own testimony. Rather, the entire Jewish legal system was built on the witness principle, where two or three credible, agreeing witnesses must provide a statement of guilt in regards to the defendant. In the darkness of this night, there were no witnesses, only a conniving and evil, religo-political has-been, Annas.
Furthermore, the trial must not be held simply in the audience of one man, but legally, it must be before the multitude of the members of the Sanhedrin. According to Jewish Law, ample time must be given to call together all of the ruling members. This was not something that could be done legally in the night hours. Rather, time must be taken to ensure that the accused received a fair and unbiased trial. But this would not be the case. The accuser, Annas, was not concerned with fair and unbiased. He had already made up his mind, and would convince his son-in-law, Caiaphas, of the same.
Ever mindful and obedient to the law, Jesus commanded Annas to call witnesses forward to testify of the evil things that He had taught. His ministry had been done in the open, in highly populated areas like synagogues and the temple. Jesus never lost control of the situation. It was not out of control even when one of the foolish guards standing next to Him struck Him in the face. Rather, with a calm confidence, Jesus petitioned the abuser to give the evidence that warranted physical abuse.
The entire pre-trial with Annas was a mockery of justice. From the arrogance of Annas, to the unwillingness to even follow the regular procedures afforded in Jewish law, there was no true trial of Jesus’ guilt. The minds of biased men had been made up. They hated Jesus and they would dispense of Him even if that meant they must dispense of justice and holiness along the way. On this dark, cold night, these evil men stood and looked into the face of the innocent Son of God, inadvertently issuing condemnation and judgment on themselves.
Food For Thought: Name a couple things that Annas did that was illegal according to Jewish law in the pretrial of Jesus.