Matthew 26:57-68 (ESV)
57 Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. 58 And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. 59 Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, 60 but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61 and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’ ” 62 And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66 What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” 67 Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, 68 saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”
After Jesus was arrested, Peter secretly followed him into the courtyard of Caiaphas to see what would happen. Caiaphas was the Jewish high priest, so this “trial” was not a civil affair. Instead, it was a religious trial. But the two were mixed, as Caiaphas was interested in Roman support. The Romans appointed him to the office of high priest, which was to be a lifetime role. So Caiaphas didn’t want Jesus or anyone else messing up his position. The scribes and elders showed up too. Together, and under the leadership of the High Priest, this group was known as the Sanhedrin, the most powerful Jewish council. Verse 59 reveals that the purpose of this gathering wasn’t to collect information and conduct a fair trial. Instead, these leaders were looking for a way to kill Jesus. False witnesses spoke, but didn’t offer the information the leaders were looking for. Finally, two witnesses said Jesus had claimed he could destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days. Jesus didn’t reply to their accusation. The high priest was enraged and commanded Jesus to tell them whether he was the Son of God. Jesus responded with, “You have said so.” Then he added, “But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” That was it! They all agreed that death was the only acceptable punishment for a claim like this.
Normally, when a person is falsely accused, he will do whatever he can to argue his case. But Jesus didn’t. Instead, he remained basically quiet. His silence infuriated the religious leaders. They couldn’t understand why he wasn’t pleading for his life. We know that Jesus had already done this in the Garden of Gethsemane before his Father. The cross was inevitable. In verse 63, Caiaphas adds, “I adjure you by the living God.” In doing this, he put Jesus “under oath,” and Jesus had to respond. Jesus gave Caiaphas more than he hoped to hear, declaring that he held an office equal to God’s. What Jesus said was incredible. If anyone tells you, “Jesus never claimed to be God,” just have her read Matthew 26:64. Under oath, Jesus boldly declared his identity. All humans have two options: reject Jesus or surrender to him as Lord. Which one will you do today?