First Stage of the Jewish Trial (Part 1)
After Judas betrayed Christ "Then the detachment of troops and the captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him. And they led Him away to Annas first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was the high priest that year. Now it was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people" (John 18:12-14).

I find it interesting that the soldiers bound Jesus when they arrested Him. They evidently viewed our Lord as an escape threat, even though He had identified Himself and not resisted in any way. Of course, there was nothing they could bind Him with to restrain Him if He wanted to escape. He could have vanished in an instant or annihilated them with a word!

And they brought him first to Annas, a former high priest. The Romans, who at that time were subjugating the Jews, did not hesitate to either raise up or depose Jewish high priests as it was politically expedient. According to historical records, Annas had served as high priest for nine years, being deposed by Valerius Gratus, prefect of Judea, in 15 A.D. Annas was succeeded by Ishmael ben Phiabia I (c. A.D 15-16) and then by Annas' son Eleazar (c. A.D. 16-17). Following the term of Simon, son of Kamithos (A.D. 17-18), Joseph Caiaphas, who had married the daughter of Annas, was appointed to the office in 18 A.D. by Gratus. Caiaphas held the office until A.D. 36, when both he and Pilate were removed from their respective offices by Lucius Vitellius, governor of Syria. When John says that Caiaphas was high priest "that year," he simply means that Caiaphas was high priest the year that Jesus was "tried" and crucified.

It is implied in the law of Moses that the position of high priest was to be held for life (cf. Num. 20:28; 35:25). Thus, many of the Jews certainly viewed Annas as the true high priest (even though the Romans had removed him). This may be why they brought Jesus to him first.

"Now it was Caiaphas [the son-in-law of Annas] who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people" (cf. John 11:47-52). John reiterates this fact to remind the reader that Jesus was going to be tried by those who had prejudged Him and already decided that He must die. Jesus would not receive a fair trial!

We will continue studying this narrative in our next lesson.