Second Stage of the Jewish Trial (Part 1)
After one of the officers stuck Jesus with the palm of his hand, "Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest" (John 18:24). It is unknown if Annas was embarrassed by the unlawful and unjustified attack on Jesus by the unnamed officer. In either case, Annas' attempted examination of Jesus had failed and he sent Him bound to Caiaphas to begin the formal part of the trial.

Luke 22:54 indicates that "they led Him and brought Him into the high priest's house." This is "where the scribes and the elders were assembled" (Matt. 26:57). It is possible that Annas had an apartment or rooms in the same palace as Caiaphas and that Jesus was led from there into some hall large enough to hold the Sanhedrin court which had now convened (at least in part). It is unknown as to just how many people may have been present on this occasion.

"Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death" (Matt. 26:59). How tragic that they aren't interested in doing what is right! They have determined that they want Jesus dead and now they are looking for a "justifiable" way to achieve that end. One might wonder why they are even bothering with such. Perhaps it is because they fear the Romans. The Jews did not have the authority to execute anyone without Roman permission (cf. John 18:31). Thus, as much as they would have liked to kill Jesus on the spot, they must build a case (whether based on fact or fiction) against Him to convince the Romans to grant their request for the death penalty.

"Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none" (Matt. 26:60). Although many were willing to testify against Jesus, their testimonies were inconsistent and full of contradictions (cf. Mark 14:56). Thus, to this point the Sanhedrin had found no witnesses who would do a suitable job in bringing significant charges against Jesus.

"But at last two false witnesses came forward" - Finally, the Sanhedrin finds what they are looking for, or at least close enough (cf. Mark 14:59)!

"This fellow said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days'" (Matt. 26:61). "We heard Him say, 'I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands" (Mark 14:58). Jesus never claimed that He would destroy any temple but that He would raise the temple they would destroy (i.e., His body; cf. John 2:19ff - which is exactly what He did on the third day).

"But not even then did their testimony agree" - Under the Mosaic law, a person could not be condemned without the testimony of two witnesses who were in agreement on the facts that constituted a reason for condemnation (cf. Deut. 17:6; 19:15ff). Their testimonies were still not entirely consistent with themselves, and their words definitely weren't the words of Jesus recorded in John 2:19-22. When Jesus spoke on that occasion, His words were misunderstood by the people. They thought He was speaking about Herod's temple instead of His physical body. However, the Jewish leaders by this time seem to have a better understanding of what Jesus had meant than some of Jesus' very own disciples (cf. Matt. 27:62,63). This being the case, the Sanhedrin's willingness to accept this testimony, taken out of its context and twisted, shows how low they would stoop to accomplish their evil objective.

We will continue studying this narrative in our next lesson.