The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920
|The Morning Judgement By James Tissot|
Then some guards or soldiers left the hall, pretending that they were sick, and as they passed by Peter and John warming themselves at the fire, they said: " The silence of Jesus of Nazareth in the midst of such treatment is more than human. It would melt iron. Where will we go?" They went outside, down to the south of Sion, where they found the Apostles hidden in caves, convinced the latter they were not enemies and told all they had seen
"And last of all, there came in two false witnesses. And they said: "This man said, I am able to destroy the temple of God and in three days to build it (Matt xvi. 61. ) These were Hananias and Achazian. (Stepp's Life of Christ, V. II., p. 393.)
The witnesses were hotly contradicted, and the dispute started a great commotion. When order had been restored, Caiphas, infuriated by the way matters were going, rose from his seat on the divan, came forward to the edge of the seat. " And the high priest rising up said to him, Answerest thou nothing to the things which these witnesses say against thee ? " (Matt, xv. 62.)
"But Jesus held his peace." This more enraged the high priest. The guards seized the Lord by the hair, pulled back his head and struck him under the chin, as the prophet said : " Thou hast made me a byword among the Gentiles, a shaking of the head among the peoples." (Psalm xliii. 15. 7)
Now came the chief charge. Did he claim to be the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed, the foretold Redeemer of the world ?
"And the high priest said to him : " I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us if thou be the Christ, the Son of the blessed God ? " (Matt. xxvi. 68 ; Mark xiv. 61.)
Deep silence fell on the assembly. Priests and Rabbis, Scribes and Pharisees, the learned men of Israel, knew that the question meant: Art thou the Memra, the Word of God, the divine Logos, mentioned hundreds of times in the Old Testament, translated by the word Lord, God, the "Word of God,—God himself, foretold by the prophets, who was to come into the world as God the Saviour.
Jesus raised his head, and in words heard through the hall said in calm words:
"I am. Thou hast said it. (Matt xxvi. 64) And you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of the power of God and coming in the clouds of heaven." (Mark, xiv. 62. Psalm cxvi. 16.)
We can imagine the effect of that reply. There stood Caiphas, heir of all the eighty-one high priests from Aaron's day, who ruled the religious life of Israel during their history as a nation, (Josephus, Antiq., B. xx., C. x.) the members of the great Sanhedrin, hundreds of Temple priests, Scribes and Pharisees, learned Rabbis, Temple guards, leaders of the nation, while before them stood their Messiah bound, crushed in his humanity, revealing himself to them as the "Son of God, The Son of man—Son of God the Eternal Father," from whom he received his Divinity, and Son of the Virgin, from whom he received his humanity. He loved to call himself the Son of man, for by that title the prophets called the Messiah, and by it he honored his Mother.
"Then the high priest rending his garments, saith: What need we any further witnesses ? You have heard the blasphemy. What think you ? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death." (Mark. xiv. 63-64.) "But they answering said, He is guilty of death." (Matt. xxvi. 66. Psalm lviii)
Joseph and Nicodemus alone did not vote, and they were treated with coldness from that time, although both voted in his favor in the first two meetings, because they said the accused was not present to defend himself. They could not bring forward the same reason now, for Jesus was standing before his judges. (San. vi. 10-11)
Blasphemy, Neatsah in Hebrew, or Gedduf, "piercing," was considered the greatest sin against God, and it was a crime punished with death. In our day to speak against Mohammed in Oriental countries is to endanger your life, for you will be considered an enemy of religion and of the State. " Thou shalt not speak ill of the gods, and the prince of thy people thou shalt not curse," says the Law of Moses. (Exod. xxii. 28.) In this text we find the Hebrew word for "gods," Elohim, the plural, foreshadowing the revelation of the three Persons in God.
The law of Israel given by God through Moses was that the blasphemer should be stoned to death. " And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, dying let him die; all the multitude shall stone him, whether he be a native or a stranger. He that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, dying let him die." (Levit, xxiv. 16.) The word Lord given here twice in this twice-given command is, in the Hebrew text, Memra, the Word, the Logos, the Son of God now standing there. Jesus was condemned to death for blaspheming himself, for he is God and man.
Among the Eastern nations rending the garments was a sign of mourning, and it was quite common among the Hebrews. But under the Rabbis it was reduced to the most childish rules. In order to show their piety, and the false horror they had against any infraction of religious rules, the Pharisees and priests carried a little knife hanging down from their girdle, so it would be handy to rend their garments at anything they saw or heard, which did not meet with their approval. For this reason Caiphas and each judge had a small knife, and he made a rent in his cassock, just below the throat, cutting and tearing the garment down to his girdle. The members of the Sanhedrin showed their sympathy and indignation by springing up from their seats on the divan. The Law said that the high priest should not rend his garments, (Levit. xxi. 10.) but the Targum of Jonathan holds that this relates only to mourning and funeral ceremonies, when the pontiff wore his priestly vestments. In a trial like this the pontiff tore his garments from top to bottom, while the priests tore theirs from the bottom up to the top, says the Horayoth. (3.)