The leaders, now satisfied that Jesus will not use His power on His own behalf, seize Him and begin to bind His hands. As He yields to their touch, Jesus, looking into the faces of the Jewish leaders, said, “You hunt me and treat me as though I were a common robber. I have never tried to get away from you. But now for a while things are in your control, the control of the powers of night.”
Meanwhile the disciples forsook Him and fled, except two, John and Peter. Peter followed at what he thought a safe distance. John kept along with the crowd, and went in “with Jesus.” Mark tells about the attempted arrest of a young man who seemed friendly to Jesus, but in the struggle he escaped, leaving his garments behind. And so they make their way, a torch-light procession through the darkness of the night, back across the brook, up the steep slope to the city gate, and through the narrow streets to the palace of the high priest.
The Real Jewish Ruler.
Here Jesus is expected. Late as it is He is at once brought before Annas. Annas was an old man who had been high priest himself once, years before, and who had afterwards absolutely controlled that office through the successive terms of his sons and now of his son-in-law. He was the real leader of the inner clique that held the national reins in a clutching grip. Caiaphas was the nominal high priest. The old man Annas was the real leader. He controlled the inner finances and the temple revenues. To him first Jesus is taken. He begins a quizzical, critical examination of Jesus about disciples and teaching. Possibly he is trying to overawe this young Galilean. Jesus calmly answers. “I have taught openly, never secretly; everybody knows what my teaching has been. Why ask Me? These people all around have heard all my teaching.” He was ever in the open, in sharp contrast with these present proceedings. One of the underlings of the high priest—struck—Jesus—in the face, saying, “Answerest thou the high priest so?” Jesus quietly replies, “If I have spoken something wrong tell me what it is, but if not, why do you strike Me?” Annas ignores the gross insult by one of his own men, and, probably with an exultant sneer that the disturber of the temple revenues is in his power at last, gives order that Jesus be bound and taken to his chief underling, Caiaphas.
This is the first phase of the condemnation determined upon beforehand, and the real settling of the Jewish disposition of Jesus. Still the forms had to be gone through. So Jesus is sent with the decision of Annas in the thongs on His hands to Caiaphas, high priest that year by the grace of the old intriguer Annas, and by Roman appointment. The thing must be done up in proper shape. These folks are great sticklers for proper forms.