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recalled to his disciple by a glance what
he had said to him a few hours before.
Peter, startled, humiliated, tortured by
that glance, by the memory of his promises,

1 The crowing of a cock becomes much more natural
placed at the country house of Annas, than at Jerusa-
lem, in the palace of Caiaphas.


his assurances, his protestations, sprang
up, hastened out, and, throwing the corner
of his mantle over his head,^ went away

The interview with Annas could lead to
nothing final, and consequently could not
be greatly prolonged. The members of
that section of the Sanhedrin which was
in charge of juristic matters, having been
aroused in the middle of the night, had
had time to assemble at the palace of
Caiaphas in Jerusalem. The necessity
of haste, and of acting by night because
of the Feast, had been made clear to

The party therefore set out, conducting
Jesus to the city with as little noise as
possible ; and all was ready when he was
ushered into the hall where his judges
awaited him. These, to the number of
twenty-three, forming the Beth-Din (house
of justice), were sitting in their places.

Here again the procedure was rapid.
As Caiaphas always acted only at his
father-in-law's instigation, Annas con-

1 Throwing the corner of his mantle over his head to
hide his face ; this is the most probable translation of
the enigmatic word, eTi^aAwi'. Mark xiv. 72.


tinned to manage everything with his in-
fernal ability. The end to be attained was
to put Jesus to death as promptly as pos-
sible ; but still according to law, that they
might afterward say, in case of a popular
movement in his favor, that his condem-
nation had been deserved, and that he had
been tried in strict accordance with all the
forms. It has already been remarked that
never did a single one of the apostles
claim that the law had been violated in
their Master's trial.

It must have been four or five in the
morning when Jesus arrived at the palace
of Caiaphas. The important thing was to
capture the vote of the assembly, and here
again the tact of Annas made itself felt.
It is possible that Caiaphas also was a
wily diplomatist. A man who was able
to retain the high priesthood ten years in
succession cannot have been wanting in

The trial of Jesus of Nazareth was evi-
dently carried on according to a pre-
arranged plan. First of all it was impor-
tant to turn against him several priestly
members of the Sanhedrin. For this pur-
pose use was made, not of the purification


of the Temple,^ but of the saying, "De-
stroy this Temple, and in three daj^s I will
build it again." They began by discuss-
ing this utterance ; its sense was not clear ;
the witnesses who were summoned, accord-
ing to the law, were not in accord as to its
true signification. There were those who
spoke of a very rapid, material rebuilding
of the Temple, whereas Jesus had spoken
of an invisible, spiritual Temple, of the
true worshippers of his Father.

Nevertheless this expression, whatever
might be its true meaning in the eyes of
the Sadducean priests, profoundly irritated
them. The bare mention of a possible
disappearance of the sanctuary by which
they lived exasperated them. The mere
citation of this saying therefore won them
over to the side of the condemnation of
Jesus, and that was all that Caiaphas asked
of them.

There remained those who were not
priests, — in particular, the Pharisees.

1 A very weighty proof that tliis took place at the
opening of Jesus' ministry, and that it had been for-
gotten (see "Jesus Christ During liis Ministry," p. 130),
for if it had occurred on Palm Sunday they could not
have failed to make use of it.


Many of these certainly found nothing
subversive in the words of Jesus concern-
ing the Temple, as they were cited by the
witnesses. But Caiaphas desired a unani-
mous condemnation; and to obtain the
adhesion of the Pharisees he had prepared
a direct question, which he had held in
reserve, and now abruptly put to Jesus,
"Art thou the Christ? "i If, in fact,
contempt of the Temple sufficed for the
Sadducees, it was needful, in order to
gain the approbation of the Pharisees,
that Jesus should be a false Messiah.
Now Caiaphas was sure that Jesus would
reply in the affirmative ; he had informed
himself on this subject; perhaps it was
Judas himself who had informed him.

And furthermore, and this was the
supreme craftiness of the question, if
Jesus declared himself to be the Messiah,
he could be handed over to Pilate as hav-
ing aspired to royalty; and when Pilate
once took charge of the matter they would
be quit of it.

At the direct and formal question of
Caiaphas Jesus departed from his rule of
silence and replied, " Thou hast said [the

1 Matt. xxvi. 63; Mark xiv. Gl ; Luke xxii. 70.


words are synonymous with yes] ; and fur-
thermore (ttXtiv) I declare unto you, from
this present time (air dprt) ye shall see
the Son of man sitting on the right hand
of the power of God and coming in the
clouds of heaven. "1

Jesus was here reminding his judges of
a passage of Scripture which they well
knew. 2 In this passage, Barnascha, as the
Aramaic of Jesus' time called him, the
Son of man, draws near to Jehovah to

1 Matt. xxvi. 64 ; Mark xiv. 62 ; Luke xxii. 69. The
text of Mark, the oldest of the three, does not include
the words dir' 6.pri, and Luke replaces them with airh rov
vvv, " from this time forward." It is truly inconceiv-
able how the advocates of the allegorical theory, the
exegetes who affirm that Jesus predicted merely a series
of spiritual returns, can insist that they find a confirma-
tion of their fantastic exegesis in these words (dir' &pTi).
Jesus simply declares that from the moment then pres-
ent he may be expected at any hour returning in the
clouds of heaven. Tiiis expression shows that even at
that terrible moment his faith in himself and in his
words did not waver. He was expecting the kingdom ;
it might appear at any minute, from the present time
(aTf' &pTi), from this time forward (d7ri» rov vvv). Upon
the cross Jesus said, " My God, my God, why liast thou
forsaken me ? " Save perhaps in that second of moral
anguish in which he uttered this cry of despair, he was
always, as has already been said, sure of himself, sure
of his Father, and sure of the truth.

- Daniel vii. 13.


receive from him dominion over the world.
Now Jesus was convinced that he was the
Barnascha^ the ideal Son of man, the
Messiah, the future king of the coming
kingdom, and he was affirming his Mes-
siahship, and in consequence his triumph,
in a future which was to be expected from
this time forth, at any moment.

No doubt he had said, "Its coming is
delayed." He had said this more than
once these last weeks, and in several
parables. But now events were hastening,
and Jesus declared that the great day was
very near. How natural it is ! He said,
"It delayeth its coming," when he believed
that his work upon earth was still to last
for a certain time. The previous evening,
in the upper chamber, he had spoken of
the Passover which he was celebrating as
the last before the coming of the kingdom ;
that is to say, he spoke of it as coming
in the year then beginning; and now he
speaks of it as "from this time," at any

No doubt Jesus intended to continue the
sentence and give some explanation of
what he had just said; but Caiaphas in-
terrupted him; a tumult arose, the high


priest making a pretence of indignation,
declaring his horror of the blasphemy that
they had just heard. We say, "making
a pretence," for the Sadducees concerned
themselves little with Messianic hopes,
and it was necessary to simulate indigna-
tion in order to carry the Pharisees who
were members of the assembly. The
death sentence was voted at once, and

It is pleasant to believe that Joseph of
Arimathea and Nicodemus were not mem-
bers of the juristic section of the Sanhe-
drin, and that they were not of those who,
from cowardice, were unwilling to form a

Jesus was condemned ; it was necessary
now to wait for daybreak and take him
before the Procurator. To fill in the
time they heaped insults upon him; they
blindfolded him, and each came in his
turn to smite him, saying, "Come, play
the prophet! Who smote thee? Guess! "^
Did the members of the Sanhedrin in
person so abase themselves, or did they

1 This was legal; blasphemy was punished with
death. Lev. xxiv. 10 f.; Deut. xiii. If.

2 Matt. xxvi. 67, 68; Mark xiv. 65; Luke xxii. 63-65.


content themselves with permitting their
retainers to indulge in this infamous con-
duct ? It is impossible to know ; the texts
are not at one on this subject.

At early dawn they set out for the house
of Pilate.

But why Pilate? Annas and Caiaphas
had only to cause Jesus to be secretly
stoned at once, in some retired corner. It
was easy ; they had at hand the necessary
agents, well accustomed to such work.
This would have had the advantage of
keeping the populace in ignorance of his
death, and would have been the surest
way of avoiding an uprising.

They had the power to do it; and when
they asserted that they were not allowed
to put any one to death, ^ they lied: they
were allowed. Why then Pilate? Be-
cause they were too wily to take upon
themselves the execution of Jesus.

We have already referred to this last
device of the Jewish authorities. The
Galileans, Jesus' partisans, were in con-
siderable force in the city, which further-
more was crowded with strangers. Since
Annas and Caiaphas had been obliged to

1 John xviii. 31.


act at so unfavorable a moment, they
must at least make the best of it, and with
little short of genius they conceived the
idea of profiting by the presence of Pilate,
— ■ not simply to ratify their sentence, as
has commonly been said, there was noth-
ing for Pilate to ratify; but to lay the
condemnation of Jesus upon him. Then
if at a later time the nation reproached
Caiaphas with having killed a patriot, he
could reply, "I did not do it; it was the
Procurator." And it was as the result of
this odious and cowardly calculation that
Jesus was crucified and not stoned. Is
not this the invariable conduct of all relig-
ious potentates ? — to seek a condemnation
from the secular arm, thus sheltering
themselves. Clerical fanaticism begs the
civil power to cover its violences, and then
makes it responsible for them, going even
so far as to upbraid it for them. What
Caiaphas did the Church often did at a
later time, or at least it followed an
analogous course.

Pilate's palace was contiguous to the
Tower of Antonia.^ It was the former

1 The seraglio of the Pacha of Jerusalem now occu-
pies the precise spot.


palace of Herod. ^ The Praetorium, the hall
of justice, was on the ground floor. But
this was Gentile ground, and so impure, and
the Jews refused to enter it ; ^ to step upon
Gentile ground was to incur uncleanness.

Pilate had another tribunal in the open
air, 3 an elevated structure, probably a gal-
lery with a colonnade. The pavement was
of mosaic; this tribunal was called the

1 Phil. Leg. ad Cavim, § 38 ; Jos. D. B. J. 2, 14, 8.

2 "That they might eat the Passover," says the
Fourth Gospel (John xviii. 28). This is a mistake ; the
Jews had already eaten the Passover the evening before,
and it was not in the least necessary that it should be
the day on which the Passover was eaten for them to
refuse to step upon Gentile ground. Strict Jews always
considered such an act as incurring uncleanness, and
that from one end of the year to the other. The author
of the Fourth Gospel, making Jesus die on the very day
on which the lamb was slain and eaten, attributed to
this motive the refusal of the Jcavs to enter the Prseto-
rium. This mixture of inaccuracy and precise detail,
of data of remarkable historicity, and data not less fla-
grantly erroneous, confirms us more and more in the
opinion that we have in the Fourth Gospel, not the work
of an eye-Avitness, but of one unknown, the intimate
friend of an eye-witness (St. John), writing from verbal
indications or notes of the latter.

3 Jos. D. B. J. 2, 9, 3 ; Matt, xxvii. 27 ; John xix. 13.
^ The Bima in Aramaic; a word drawn from the

Greek ^rifia.


Pilate was surprised on being disturbed
at so early an hour, and before taking his
seat he complained of being called to
judge in such a case. He would have
much preferred that the Jews should take
this execution upon themselves; he fore-
saw much annoyance in the matter. Here
was another of those disagreeable cases in
which he would have to yield to the
objurgations of the Jews without the
approval of his own conscience; and he
began by going into the Prsetorium with
Jesus alone.

There an interview took place, the
character of which has been preserved for
us by John, although it is not possible
that he can have known its details; but
the general color of his account appears
to be very authentic.

As for Pilate, his visits to Jerusalem
were insupportable, and his task as Procu-
rator at the Feast times was a very delicate
one. The Jews were intractable, and he
was very much annoyed at being forced to
show himself cruel during the few days
that he was obliged to spend in the capital.
His interview with the accused shortly
enlightened him as to his character. To


put this man to death would be an
iniquity, an act contrary to all usages of
Rome, which wisely permitted conquered
peoples to work out their religious quar-
rels according to their own ideas.

He therefore sincerely desired to save
Jesus. The Sadducees speedily became
aware of this, and thought for a moment
that their prey was about to escape them.
It was evident that Pilate was seeking all
possible means of acquitting him ; in vain
might they shout, "Crucify him! crucify
him!"i Jesus was now in the hands of
Rome, and guarded by Roman soldiers.
Annas and his party no longer had the
slightest power over him ; they had given
him over to the Romans, and the Romans
were his keepers.

The Sadducees uneasily consulted to-
gether. To work upon Pilate they must
leave the crime of seduction in the back-
ground, and undertake to accuse Jesus of
revolutionary projects. But as he had
had none, they invented them, trying what
calumny would do. He who had said,
"Render unto Csesar the things that are

1 Matt, xxvii. 22, 23 ; Mark xv. 13, 14 ; Luke xxiii.

21 fe.


Caesar's," was now accused of having
claimed to be King of the Jews, though
he had never taken that title; and they
added, "He forbids to give tribute." ^

The lie was flagrant. But a little while
before Jesus had publicly said precisely
the contrary; but the Sadducees w^ere
driven into a corner and trembled lest
Pilate should acquit Jesus; he had only
to say a word, — not even that, had only
to make a gesture, — and Jesus was free.
But if the other accusations had produced
little effect upon Pilate, this one produced
still less. It was too much to ask him to
take it seriously; this working-man, this
Galilean, a king! At most he was a
dreamer, and a very inoffensive one.

Pilate therefore reappeared outside, and
this time he seated himself upon the Bima ;
he proposed to finish with the matter and
pronounce the acquittal. His seat was a
lofty one; overhead were the four letters
S. P. Q. R. (^Senahts populusqite Roinanus);
at his feet stood Jesus, his hands bound;
farther away the multitude, restrained by
a Roman soldier who held his lance hori-
zontal by way of barrier. The multitude

1 Luke xxiii. 2-5.


were vociferating "Crucify him! crucify
him!" and behind them were the priests
directing and urging them on.^

For a moment Pilate thought that he
had found a way out of the difficulty. It
was Passover-tide, and the custom was at
this time to set at liberty a prisoner, whom-
soever the people themselves might choose.
He proposed to the crowd to release "the
King of the Jews,"^ using the words
intentionally, in derision of the priests,
to make them feel that he was not their
dupe, and that he put no faith in the accu-
sation of pretensions to royalty that they
had preferred against Jesus.

Once again the Sadducean priests be-
lieved that their plan had failed; but

1 We say the multitude, for since daylight the news of
the arrest had spread through the city, and the multi-
tude must have hastened en masse to the Praetorium.
The Sanhedrin had feared an uprising in favor of Jesus.
They had, alas ! no longer anything of that kind to dread.
The people, who had been sympathetic with Jesus, were
now turning against him. Such change of mood often
takes place in popular masses. The losing side is al-
ways wrong in their eyes, and among those who cried
" Crucify him ! crucify him ! " were perhaps some of
those who, the previous Sunday, had most loudly sung
" Hosanna ! Hosanna ! "

'■^ Mark xv. 9.


happily for them a certain Bar-Rabban^
was in prison at the time; he had com-
mitted a murder and attempted an upris-
ing. " Ask for Bar-Rabban ! " The word
went round; it was repeated from lip to
lip, and presently the cry uprose as from
one voice, "Not this man, Bar-Rabban! "

Pilate was caught. He had said,
"Whomever ye will;" he was bound to
deliver to them whatever criminal they
might choose. And yet so great was his
desire to save Jesus that he would not yet
give up for beaten ; he made a last effort.

He condemned Jesus to be scourged, a
relatively insignificant penalt}^ and in-
formed the Jews that this would be all.
"Afterward," he said, "I will let him
go. "2 Flagellation was always the pre-
liminary to the suffering of the cross, ^ but
this was not what Pilate meant. He was
resolved to set the prisoner at liberty im-
mediately after having had him scourged.

This flagellation was accompanied with
revolting acts. Pilate had at Jerusalem
only auxiliary troops, soldiers who were

1 Matt, xxvii, 16 ff. ^ l^^j^^ ^xiii. 16.

3 Jos. D. 5. J. 2, 14, 9 ; 5, 11, 1 ; 7, 6, 4 ; Titus Livius,
xxiii. 36 ; Quintus Curtius, 7, 11, 28.


not true legionaries, and not one of whom
was a Roman citizen. Picked up from
among coarse and brutal creatures, recruited
more or less from anywhere, they made
the Jews pay dear for their obligation of
keeping garrison in this unknown land of
Judea. They put upon Jesus an old red
chlamys, made him a crown of thorny
branches, and placed a reed in his hand.
Pilate let them have their way; he even
suffered Jesus to be led before the people
in this accoutrement. Each of the soldiers
in turn gave him a buffet, prostrating
themselves before him in succession, say-
ing, "Hail! King of the Jews!" It is
even said that Pilate joined them, crying
"Behold the man!"

He hoped that this sort of horse-play
would suffice, and this is his excuse for
having let it go on. To ridicule Jesus, to
change the whole affair into a grotesque
pageant, was, he thought, to save him.
He was mistaken; the Sadducees took
new hope, and their cries "Crucify him!
crucify him ! " uprose continually.

Then Pilate, to gain time, sent Jesus
to Antipas, who also had come to Jerusa-
lem for the Feast. But Jesus said no


more to Antipas than to Caiaphas, and
was silent also before Pilate, when he was
once more brought before him.

The situation was threatening to be
prolonged, when the priests were struck
with an idea which was a veritable inspira-
tion. They took Pilate on the side of his
personal interest, saying to him, " If thou
let this man go thou art not the emperor's
friend."^ Now Pilate was a functionary,
and the thing the functionary loves most
in the world is his place. Hearing these
words, he feared the loss of his place ; he
knew himself to be in peril of denuncia-
tion by these Jews whom he despised.
They had already written once to Tiberius
complaining of him, and Tiberius had
justified them. . . . " The priests, " Pilate
thought, "will complain again; they will
write." It seemed to Pilate that he could
read their report in advance; he said to
himself, "I am already in bad odor; I
shall lose my place." Lose his place!
He could not go as far as that; and so
he yielded, though in yielding he dis-
claimed responsibility. He said to the
Jews, " You are responsible for the blood

1 John xix. 12.


of this man;" and they replied, "His
blood be on us and on our children. "^
Horrible wish, which has been only too
literally fulfilled ! The malediction which
has weighed upon the Jews during so many
centuries is not yet soon to vanish. We
have finished with religious intolerance,
but in vain is liberty of conscience respected ;
the Jew bears an indelible stigma. That
odious thing, anti-Semitism, has from cen-
tury to century a perpetual renascence.

The true author of the death of Jesus
was not Pilate, but the Sadducean party.
Was there not another author even older
than they? Assuredly; the Sadducees
did no more than apply the law, and the
law is the true culprit. The passages are
explicit ; ^ every innovator was to be stoned
without trial. Terrible law, odious fanati-
cism; to desire to change the established
forms of worship was to invoke death.
The saying, "We have a law," ^ was only
too true ; it was the law that pronounced
sentence upon Jesus. He abolished it;
but to do this he must suffer its penalt}^

1 Matt, xxvii. 25.

2 Deut. xiii. 1 f. ; Lev. xxiv. 16,

3 John xix. 7.


As for him, he did not again break
silence. What was he thinking during
this long trial, during that struggle before
Pilate which lasted more than two hours ?
We picture to ourselves a mute dialogue
between him and his Father. Seeing
himself alone, a victim of the fury of
some, the cowardice of others, certain that
death was very near, on that same day, he
called upon his Father, and was always
certain that his Father was near him.
Man of sorrows, he was no longer think-
ing of Galilee, of the preaching of the
kingdom, of the sympathy of the crowds ;
he was thinking of the prophets, of that
Servant of God dying for the sins of his
people of whom Isaiah had spoken, and
the conviction of his Messiahship grew
even stronger in his soul; he knew, he
was certain, with an immovable certitude.
Let them utter cries of rage against him,
rain blows upon him, he would respond
only by silence, — a silence that was the
supreme dignity of the last hours of his




A NNAS and Caiaphas had accomplished
their ends, had succeeded in every-
thing : an arrest without a popular tumult,
a trial according to legal form, and finally
a condemnation pronounced by Pilate for a
crime against the State. Henceforth they
might rest quiet ; they had sheltered them-
selves on all sides. They can be criti-
cised only on one point, — the precipitation
of their acts.^ But in this detail they
could also be without fear ; they had only
to affirm that the procedure had been
long, and that Jesus had been arrested a
long while before. This is what they
failed not to do, and the Talmuds tell us ^

1 See above, p. 147.

2 Mishna, Smth. yi. 4; Talm. Jerusal. Sank. xi. 4.
Nevertheless Rabbi Judas advocated an immediate exe-
cution, not to make the condemned suffer by the expec-
tation of death. The desire to be just and kind to
criminals is evident all through the tractate of the San-


that the condemned always remained in
prison a long time before being executed.
Therefore, they would conclude, it was
thus with Jesus.

The sentence was to the cross ; this was
inevitable, since it was the Roman author-
ity that had pronounced it. The Jews on
their part had desired this manner of
death, and for long hours they had been
crying by the voices of their tools, " Crucify
him! crucify him!"

Death upon the cross was, Cicero says,
" the most cruel and the most hideous of
deaths;"^ a peculiar ignominy was at-
tached to it; not only were Roman citi-
zens dispensed from it, but it was only
to highway robbers bandits and thieves

hedrin. Such exaggerated kindliness is the act of men

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