At the time of Jesus’ unjust arrest, Annas was no longer the acting high priest of Judaea. He had originally been appointed by Quirinius for the position, when the Romans took over rule of the Jews. He served for ten years, but was considered equal with his son-in-law, Caiphas, even though he no longer held the title. The Jews venerated their priests no matter who was in control at the time.
He was of the Sadducean aristocracy. He was extremely wealthy and much of that wealth came from the sale of animal sacrifices to be used at the temple. Booths were set up where the average person could pay their way to forgiveness. We all know how upset Jesus was when entered the temple area and saw how it had been turned into a den of thieves. His indignation was righteous, but the fact that He voiced His feelings in such a way, must have turned the Sadducees against Him immediately. He was, after all, threatening their lucrative business and livelihood.
As Annas questioned Jesus, he asked Him about the number of followers Jesus had, in order to determine if what had been said was true – that the whole world was following Him. Jesus asked for witnesses to be brought forward in His defense. He said, “Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.”
Annas demanded to know about His teachings – in hopes of having Him incriminate Himself as a false prophet or blasphemer. Jesus responds in quiet dignity, which really infuriates and confuses Annas. No one has ever stood so boldly against him.
At the same time as this initial interrogation was being held inside, Peter was in the courtyard, denying ever knowing His beloved Jesus – just as Jesus had predicted he would. This simultaneous dialogue is so beautifully and dramatically written, so that we can see how even the staunchest of His disciples weakened when the time came. It also demonstrates Jesus’ resolve in our weakness.
Annas was a faithful servant of the One True God, yet his mind was blinded by tradition and somehow True God became clouded by good works and impossible laws. He knew all about the coming Messiah, yet he couldn’t recognize Him when Jesus stood right in front of him.
We, who are witnesses to what Christ has done for us through the Word of God, so often cave when confronted about our faith. We have so many opportunities to witness for Jesus and fear doing so. Jesus remained strong during his interrogation while Peter denied Him. When we’re in comfortable settings, it’s easy to stand up for Jesus. When times become perilous, how do we respond?