After Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane around 2:00 AM he was first taken to the
high priest’s palace/mansion in western Jerusalem on Mount Zion. There he appeared in front of Annas before he was taken to the high priest Caiaphas and a few of members of the Sanhedrin.
Annas was a sixty-one year old man in 30 AD. He had served as the Jewish high priest from
6-15 AD. Annas had been appointed by the Quirinius, the Roman Governor of Syria, in 6 AD immediately after Herod’s son Archelaus was deposed by Caesar. When Rome set Valerius
Gratus up as the governor of Judea in 15 AD, Annas was removed instantly by Governor Valerius because Annas insisted on imposing and executing death sentences which the Roman
government had forbidden. Even though Annas was no longer recognized by the Roman’s as
the high priest, the Jewish people still looked to his leadership and Annas continued to maintain control of Jerusalem and the Temple from behind the scenes. Annas’ continued influence in Jerusalem from 15 AD until his death (which is unknown) is clearly seen by the fact that during
those years the high priestly office was held by five of his sons, one son-in-law, and one grandson: Eleazar, 16-17 AD; Caiaphas (son-in-law), 18-36 AD; Jonathan, 37 AD; Theophilus, 37-41 AD; Matthias, 43 AD; Ananus, 63 AD; Mattathias (grandson), 65-66 AD.
On the night of Jesus’ arrest Annas was the first “official” to place Jesus on trial and question him. Around 2:30 in the morning Annas questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
Annas was clearly trying to get Jesus to condemn himself and provide evidence that could be
used against Jesus at an official trial held later before the Jewish Sanhedrin. So, Jesus said to
Annas, the godfather of Jerusalem, “I spoke openly to the world in the synagogues, at the temple
and where ever Jews gathered publicly. Clearly, my teaching and what I said is not a secret, so…”:
“Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”
With that response one of the members of the Sanhedrin that was present early that morning
and standing near Jesus slapped him on the face with the flat of his hand for being disrespectful,
or so he thought, of the “high priest.” It is interesting to notice that the official high priest
recognized by Rome was Caiaphas, but this Jewish official still referred to Annas, a man
who had not been the recognized high priest for 15 years, as the high priest.
Jesus does not apologize for being mouthy or disrespectful, but holds his own legal ground by saying:
- “If I said something wrong…” – meaning, “What did I say that was legally wrong? The burden of the accuser is to provide evidence against the accused. It is not a legal court
case when you bring the accused in and question them until they say something wrong
for you can use to condemn them. You go investigate what my teaching was if you think
there is a problem.”
- “..testify as to what is wrong.” – meaning, “You had better have some evidence to prove
that what I just said is false before you start rejecting my opening statement, accusing
me of being disrespectful and slapping me for being guilty.”
- “But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” – meaning, “If you have no evidence, then you just hit me illegally and now you have a legal lawsuit coming your way for misconduct, intimidation and corruption.”
Annas, the godfather of Jerusalem and gangster of Temple politics, knows he has just been outmaneuvered in a court of law, so:
“Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest.” – John 18:24
Jesus will face six trials between 2:00-8:30 AM that morning. Each trial ends uniquely, but always with the same verdict: There is NO evidence against Jesus. Jesus is NOT guilty. Jesus IS innocent.
Yet, about 8:30 AM Jesus is sentenced to death and at 9:00 AM his sentence is executed when he is nailed on the cross.
Here is a list of the six trials that Jesus faced in six and a half hours (2:00-8:30 AM):
- Annas, about 2:30 AM at the high priest’s mansion/palace (John 18:12-14)
- Caiaphas, about 3:00 AM at the high priest’s mansion/palace (Matthew 26:57-68)
- Sanhedrin, about 5:15 at sunrise on the Temple Mount or just west of the Western Wall in a court room that has recently been discovered (details here and here) (Matthew 27:1-2)
- Pilate #1, about 6:00 AM at Fort Antonia, Praetorium (John 18:28-38)
- Herod Antipas, 6:45 AM at Herod’s Palace in NW corner of the city in the citadel or in the Hasmonean Palace on Mount Zion (Luke 23:6-12)
- Pilate #2, about 7:30-8:30 AM at Fort Antonia, Praetorium (John 18:39-19:6)