Second Stage of the Jewish Trial (Part 2)
After the false witnesses took their turns lying, the high priest arose and said to Him - "Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?" (Matt. 26:62). The high priest knew that even with the false witnesses they didn't have a case with much substance against Jesus. The testimony that had been given might be used to show that Jesus was recklessly boastful, but certainly it was not sufficient to justify a sentence of blasphemy (since He, by their mistaken interpretation, had promised to rebuild Jerusalem's temple, if destroyed). The high priest proceeds to extort some additional evidence from Jesus Himself.

"But Jesus kept silent" (Matt. 26:63; cf. Isa. 53:7). Jesus did not utter a word in response to Caiaphas' demanding questions. Jesus was no fool; He knew that they did not have a valid case against Him. He also knew that these men were not seeking truth or justice and that any words He offered would have been in vain. Had Jesus answered, and explained what He really meant by the speech about building the temple in three days (cf. John 2:19-22), it would not have made His cause appear any better in the eyes of these judges, and it would have given His enemies a fresh notice of His intended resurrection. He would give no verbal explanation to these hard-hearted men but allow the future to make its meaning clear. Besides, His primary purpose at this point was to suffer. He wasn't there to teach them or allow them to pervert His words.

"And the high priest answered and said to Him, "I put you under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!'" (Matt. 26:63). Caiaphas had no legal right to ask this question, for no man can be forced to testify against himself. He put the question in an oath because he saw that Jesus was not going to be lured into an answer. This is his desperate attempt to force Jesus into answering plainly. The question shows that Caiaphas clearly understood the claims Jesus had made during His ministry.

The question he asked is two fold: (1) Are You the Christ? and (2) Are You the Son of God? If Jesus would affirm the latter point, it would be considered blasphemy, and the former, by illustrating a boastful spirit, would tend to confirm the charge. Let it be understood that the Old Testament did indicate that the Messiah would be the Son of God (cf. Psa. 2:7), but the Jews of that day did not necessarily comprehend such an idea. It is highly ironic that when the Sanhedrin's own witnesses failed, they called upon the "faithful witness" (cf. Rev. 1:5). When Jesus finally spoke to them He would utter the truth. Proverbs 14:5 teaches - "A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness will utter lies."

We will consider His response and the Sanhedrin's reaction in our next lesson.