A Dangerous Command
“And the High Priest stood up and said to him, ‘Don’t you have any answer for these men who are testifying against you?’ But Jesus said nothing. And the High Priest said to him, ‘I command you by the living God to tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God!’”
“And the High Priest stood up in their midst and questioned Jesus, saying, ‘Can you not answer anything to those who accuse you?’ But he said nothing and would not answer them. Again the High Priest questioned him and said, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed.’”
It is sometimes wondered why Jesus did not offer more words in his defense — I am sure that most of us would be speaking at a mile a minute were we in such a situation. Plus, would this not have been an appropriate time to share the Gospel with them? Apart from the fact that these servants of Satan were not interested in hearing truth, we should remember that Jesus’ silence is also a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:7, where the prophet speaks of the Suffering Servant going silently to his place of execution — like a lamb to the slaughter. Here, more than 700 years before Jesus’ birth and crucifixion, God, through the prophet, tells us the details of his Son’s own trial. That sheer fact alone ought to make us shudder.
Legally, Jesus should have had no need to answer — Jewish law requires more than one witness and if these witnesses couldn’t even get their stories straight, Jewish law insists that there is no case against the accused. Of course, there is nothing legal about this trial at least in human terms. It is a farce. And the King of Glory chose not to legitimize their scheme, though it would mean going to the cross (and on the cross facing the real trial, this time before an almighty God).
The real mockery, though, comes in the High Priest’s statement: “I command you by the name of the Living God…” Here is a wicked human trying to use the name of the Holy God to command the Holy God himself (Jesus!) to testify regarding a false witness. Command indeed. It is Christ who commands us, not we who command Christ. Yet, one must be careful, for is this not how we pray sometimes? Do we not expect God to do this or that because we wish him to? Do we not sometimes get upset with God for not answering our prayers in the way we desire? Loved ones, let us not fall into the trap that causes us to think that God exists for our ends — no, we exist for his glory! Let us never neglect that great truth.
Finally, it is clear from Caiaphas’ statement that he does understand that the Christ is the Son of God from prophesy (Psalm 2:7; Isaiah 9:6). Caiaphas’ problem is that he did not want to admit that it would be Jesus. Yet, Jesus is the Son of God — the Son of the Blessed one — the final title being a wonderful reminder that it is only in God himself that we will find blessing and God has made it clear that the blessings will only be through the Son. Woe to those who stand and mock him (Psalm 2:12).