The Trial - The Hypocrisy of Religious Leaders - John 18:12-13 and Matthew 26:57-68  
March 22, 2022, 9:00 AM

John 18:12-13 - “ Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year.    

Matthew 26:57-68 - “57. Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled.     59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.   Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”   62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent.   The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”    64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”  65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?”   “He is worthy of death,” they answered.   67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”             

Who are these religious leaders judging Jesus? Annas was appointed by the Romans shortly after Jesus’ birth. It was not uncommon for Jews to bribe the Romans to get certain positions and appointments. The hypocrisy at this point was paying money to hold an office that was supposed to serve the Lord, but not for personal gain or political power.                    

Annas was extremely wealthy. In fact, the next five high priests after Annas were his sons. The sixth was his son-in-law, Caiaphas. Annas still influenced decisions after his term expired. He was in charge of the temple concessions.  Remember when Jesus upset the tables of the money changers and drove out the animals from the temple? It was the household of Annas that hired priests to examine the animals brought by the people to see if they were appropriate to use for sacrifice. Many animals were rejected forcing the people to buy an acceptable animal conveniently provided by those owned and operated by Annas. These were up to five times more expensive than what you could get from a local shepherd.                   

The temple money exchange also became known popularly known as the Bazaar of Annas. The temple would not accept Roman or Greek money, but you could change it into the temple money at a higher rate.  The Jewish Talmud says ‘Woe to the house of Annas, woe to their servants house, they are high priests, they are the keepers of the treasury, their sons-in-laws are guardians of the temple, and their servants beat the people with staffs”                  

Is it any wonder that Annas wanted to get Jesus? He and Caiaphas conspired to have Judas betray Christ, because they cared about maintaining their power and position It was arranged that the soldiers would first bring Jesus to Annas for questioning.     

The religious leaders had already become greatly distressed by Jesus. John 11:48 records their plotting. “If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation."                   

Religious hypocrisy of course is not just a first century problem. Hypocrisy is exposed often with preachers, leaders, missionaries, deacons, elders, deaconesses, trustees of all sizes and shapes and denominations. Jesus warns leaders that their lives ought to be examples of righteousness and they will be judged for dishonoring the Lord. Their behavior affects the whole church and creates a poor testimony hurting the whole body of Christ.       

God says, “Be holy even as I am holy” Don’t live like you used to now that you are saved and are no longer under the power of sin. It is not just religious leaders that put on a holy pretense. Ask God’s Spirit to reveal how you might be acting in ways that are hypocritical. Is your Sunday living different from how to live during the week?  

Seek to honor God and His Spirit will help you.     

Application:  Let the Holy Spirit help you today to bring every task and action to the throne of God to honor Him.

Prayer:  Lord, may I never do anything that hinders my witness for you.   Through your Holy Spirit empower me to be authentic with you and all those I meet.   Thank you for this gift of prayer.   

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