15.03.04 Jn. 18:19-23
JESUS BEFORE ANNAS
19 The high priest questioned Jesus about His disciples and about His teaching.
20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus answered him. “I have always taught in the synagogue and in the temple complex, where all the Jews congregate, and I haven’t spoken anything in secret. 21 Why do you question Me? Question those who heard what I told them. Look, they know what I said.”
22 When He had said these things, one of the temple police standing by slapped Jesus, saying, “Is this the way you answer the high priest?”
23 “If I have spoken wrongly,” Jesus answered him, “give evidence about the wrong; but if rightly, why do you hit Me?”
Jesus asked him, “Why do you question me?” According to Oral Law, the Sanhedrin was not permitted to ask the accused any questions, but only to hear the testimonies of two or three witnesses. Just as Jesus was being cross-examined by the leading religious leaders, Josephus expressed the same idea but used the term “principal men” in his description of those who were responsible for accusing Jesus before Pilate.
Jesus now stood before Annas, the retired high priest who had previously been an unofficial agent of the Roman Empire as his priestly position was secured by an appointment. He was actually “president emeritus” of the Sanhedrin. Sitting in this judicial position, he was clearly acting illegally. The trial should have begun with an accusatory charge and witnesses. The fact that Annas asked Jesus various questions reveals his failure to follow judicial procedures.
Questions concerning the disciples were important because other messianic pretenders, as well as the Zealots, also had disciples and attempted to overthrow the empire. His questions then focused on the doctrine. Jesus simply stated that He had spoken many times in the synagogues, at the temple, and in an open forum; He held no secrets. However, apparently one of the officials did not appreciate some of His answers and consequently struck Him. To this Jesus responded, “If I said something wrong, testify as to what is wrong. However, if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” With this, Jesus won His case and the next illegal trial was before Caiaphas.
. Josephus, Antiquities 18.3.3.
. A partial listing of an estimated 60 messianic pretenders is found in Appendix 25 “False Prophets, Rebels, Significant Events, And Rebellions That Impacted The First Century Jewish World.”