I PROSECUTED JESUS (Josephus Antiq. XVIII. 2: 1; 4: 3; Jn.7: 52; 11: 45-53; 18: 12-24; Mk.14: 53-65; Ac.4: 1-22; 5: 17-42; Lk.19: 41-44)
I am Caiaphas, the High Priest that prosecuted Jesus. I was convinced that this Galilean was an imposter because there was no prophecy that anyone that important would come from Galilee. As the head of our religion it was my solemn duty to plot against this man and eliminate him at any cost. He was threatening our lucrative positions and placed us at the mercies of Rome. The Nazarene influenced far too many people for our comfort. His clever plot to capture the hearts of the people by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey did not fool us. My lips could not call Him Jeshua or a son of David. To us leaders, He was a curse and not a blessing.
We were a powerful family and in good standing with Rome, perhaps not as satisfactorily with our own people. Valerius Gratus had appointed me to the high priestly office and I served for eighteen years. The last four were very troubling and resulted in being replaced by the procurator Vitellius with Annas my father-in-law. My obsession with destroying the pretender and curtailing his followers did not stop the movement. It was after I was replaced that we began to listen to Nicodemus and Gamaliel. I had abused our laws to condemn an innocent man and then continued to take on what seemed to be God’s doings. I was trying to brand the followers of the movement as insurrectionists with no evidence to back my claim. Our attempts to imprison and prosecute men like Peter, John and Paul ended in failure. The Romans, and even our royalties, recognized our plot to turn religion into politics. It was the Roman law that now protected our enemies. Our hostility caused the Romans to suspect us of our loyalty to them. It was difficult to admit that we were on a path of our own demise. Be not surprised to hear about one that prosecuted the Christ became a Christian. I was one of those that did not know what we were doing.
To apprehend Jesus, we sent our agents to trap Him, but we ended up entangling ourselves. We dispatched our temple guard to arrest Him and they returned telling us that “No on ever spoke the way this man did.” We confronted Him by claiming to be the legitimate children of Abraham and therefore the true followers of God. This Galilean had the nerve to tell us that if we were Abraham’s children, we would love Him and not try to dispose of Him. He insisted what we were doing was the work of the devil and with his help we were fabricating lies about Him. He made us look as if we were the children of the devil and not of God. It became apparent to us that we had to act fast before we the council members became divided over Jesus. Some of the Pharisees were beginning to disagree with us, the Sadducees. We also realized that we needed to infiltrate Jesus’ inner circle. We managed to lead Judas, one of His students, to believe that we merely wanted to apprehend Him for questioning and not for killing his teacher. The misguided man betrayed His Master with a kiss, realized his mistake, returned the thirty pieces of silver and hung himself. We, of course, had our enemy in custody and with the help of Annas my father-in-law, and without most of the council members, we condemned Jesus to die at the hands of the Romans.
The trial was not being held in council chambers but in our two homes. No one was present to defend Jesus. The witnesses against Jesus we secured and instructed what to say. We used legal trickery by taking words out of context and put our own meaning into them. It was I that called Him the Son of God at the trial and not He himself. Jesus had predicted that He would be dead for three days and come back from the dead. We took that to mean that He would destroy our Temple in three days. And we did not like the way He used the Sabbath to help the needy. We wanted Him dead and there was nothing and no one that dared to stop us from having this man removed from the living. Pilate, the Roman Governor was our puppet and all his attempts to free Jesus were of no avail. Our people were instructed to have Him crucified as one of the worst criminals. To us, Barabas was more deserving of being set free than Jesus. Pilate robbed our noses when he had his men crucify Jesus as “The King of The Jews.”
The trial and the crucifixion went as planned, but the quick and sudden death of Jesus troubled us. After He had said something about things being finished and to forgive us for crucifying him, He stopped breathing. We had a soldier pierce his side and He was dead. To mind came the Galilean’s words that He would come back from the dead in three days. We had guards placed at his tomb and they shocked us by deserting the place and telling us the huge entrance rock moved by it self and the grave opened up. Now we had to silence these soldiers and had them tell that the disciples had come to claim the Nazarene’s body. To our dismay, the Galilean kept reappearing and so did other departed. The more we tried to stop the rumor of a dead man being alive, the more witnesses insisted that we had interfered with God’s intention to save us. We had tried to kill the Christ and we had failed. We commissioned our loyal adherers to apprehend Jesus’ followers and they too became believers and even martyrs. We ended up following men like Barabas, who turned the Romans against us. They took from us our positions, our properties, our homes and our city. From a distance, we watched them turn our beloved Jerusalem and our glorious Temple into ashes. Yet, in our blind stupor, we blamed our mismanaging on the Man from Galilee and his followers. God had come to deliver us and we did not recognize Him.