It was still dark, though the promise of dawn was a faint blush in the eastern sky, heralding what would be the most significant day in the history of the universe. It was cold enough to need a fire in the courtyard of the high priest’s house, but the offensive odour of hypocrisy pervaded the hastily arranged gathering of the temple hierarchy as the fifteenth of Nisan drew on when ‘the Passover must be killed’, Luke 22. 7.
Caiaphas, the high priest, considered the thirty pieces of silver to be money well spent as he observed the prisoner before him. At last, the Nazarene was in his grasp. It had taken some three years of plotting, scheming, and guile to finally entrap Him. But now all that Caiaphas needed was two or three ‘witnesses’ who could be persuaded to make an appropriate accusation, then he could close the chapter on this man who had caused him so many sleepless nights.
Then, unexpectedly, his best laid plans began to unravel. The ‘witnesses’, hastily subpoenaed to attend the hearing and give conclusive evidence of guilt, could not agree! One after another came before the council, each with a concocted story of ‘He did this’, or ‘He said that’, but the required agreement of two or three witnesses failed to materialize. Increasingly frustrated, Caiaphas insisted that more witnesses be found at this unsociable hour, to convict the man who stood silently before him. Eventually, two were brought, recalling words spoken over three years before, when the Nazarene began to teach publicly. They remembered an occasion when He had single-handedly driven the money changers and all the commercial paraphernalia from the temple precincts. He had said, one claimed, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands’, Mark 14. 58. Although this distorted version was not confirmed by his fellow perjurer, enough had been insinuated for Caiaphas to call a halt to the proceedings and turn his attention directly to the prisoner. It irritated him that Jesus had spoken no word to refute the witnesses, nor to offer any defence.
Rising from his seat of office and with ill-concealed anger, Caiaphas challenged Jesus to contradict the charge. Still receiving no response, he chose to employ a legal strategy which would not allow the defendant to remain silent. By calling upon the Almighty to witness, the accused was placed under oath to give an answer, Lev. 5. 1. Carefully phrasing his question to avoid any ambiguity, in measured tones he challenged the prisoner to condemn Himself. ‘Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ Mark 14. 61. The ‘thou’ was noticeably emphatic, as it would shortly be in Pilate’s interrogation, John 18. 33. In each case, the ill-treatment He had received rendered recognition of either Messiah or King as doubtful.
The question posed by Caiaphas embraced two distinct titles of the Lord Jesus. Was He ‘the Christ’, ‘the Promised One’, anticipated by the nation for generations? The One who would redeem Israel, Luke 24. 21? Whom, later that same day, the rulers would mock as ‘the chosen of God’? And would He claim the second title which had deeper connotations?
The phrase ‘Son of the Blessed’ is only found here in the New Testament writings. It is adjectival or descriptive in character but is principally a noun. Such was the reticence of the Jewish psyche to speak the name of Jehovah, that alternatives were used whenever possible. Hence ‘Son of the Blessed’ would equate to ‘Son of God’, Matt. 26. 63.
In the many altercations between the Lord Jesus and the rulers, of which there were no doubt more than those recorded for us, the main point of conflict was His reference to God as His Father. The Jews were under no illusion that such claims declared equality with God. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, their proud minds would not accept that this carpenter’s son from Galilee could possibly be the promised Messiah and Son of God.
The response given to the question was a clear and unequivocal affirmation, ‘Jesus said, I am’, Mark 14. 62. There was no other answer He could give since the law demanded an answer and the One questioned was the embodiment of truth. His reply confirmed the substance of His teaching and manner of life, had they but listened and accepted His claims.
Jesus knew that His answer was just what Caiaphas was hoping for in order to move to a verdict. He knew also what the verdict would be and, in light of this, He issued a personal warning of judgement against the high priest, ‘ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven’, v. 62. This brief statement confirms the resurrection, the future return, and the reversal of roles, when Caiaphas will be the one awaiting, not a trial, but a final sentence.
Leviticus chapter 21 verse 10 forbade the high priest to rend his clothes. Caiaphas had either not read this, or more likely chose to ignore it as he theatrically tore his outer garment in an expression of hypocritical horror at what he judged to be blasphemy.
What will eternity be for those who then began to spit on Him, to buffet Him with their fists, to mock Him and strike Him with their hands?
As seen above, the title ‘Son of the Blessed’ is unique to this occasion. Throughout the scripture blessing is enjoined in many and varied circumstances not particularly relevant to this article. There are, however, two occasions which merit a mention, where the word is applied directly to God, and reveals what He is intrinsically. In 1 Timothy chapter 1 verse 11, Paul reminds Timothy that the antidote to the false teachers who ignorantly professed to teach the law, is the gospel of the glory of the blessed God’ RV. In his final charge to Timothy in this Epistle, Paul records in chapter 6 verse 15 an expression of praise embracing a sevenfold description of God, commencing with ‘the blessed and only Potentate’.
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