Who Tore My Shirt?  Caiaphas Matthew 26:62-66

Allow me to set the stage for you before our Character of the afternoon speaks to you…

Caiaphas was the Jewish high priest who served in Jerusalem from about 18 to 36 AD. History tells us that he was the son-in-law of Annas, and likely from the tribe of Levi. As a member of the Jewish priestly class, Caiaphas was part of the sect of the Sadducees, who served in priestly as well as political and judicial roles.

After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, both the Pharisees and the Sadducees met at Caiaphas’s palace to express their concern that Jesus’ growing number of followers would incite the anger of the Roman Empire (Matthew 26:2John 11:47). They were unsure how to proceed until Caiaphas spoke: “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish” (John 11:50). This statement calling for Jesus’ death was a cold, calculating move of political expediency; at the same time, Caiaphas was unknowingly prophesying about God’s plan for Jesus’ death. Through the Sanhedrin’s wicked actions, God would save both the Jewish nation and anyone else who would believe in Christ (verses 51–52). 

When the Jewish leaders had Jesus arrested at Passover, they first brought Him before Annas (John 18:13). After he had questioned Jesus, Annas sent Jesus to his son-in-law Caiaphas, who as the high priest would be the one to rule on Jesus’ fate. When Jesus stood before Caiaphas and the entire Sanhedrin, many false witnesses were brought forward, but nothing was found to warrant a death sentence (Matthew 26:59–60). Finally, Caiaphas stood up and addressed Jesus directly, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God” (verse 63). Jesus replied just as directly, “You have said so. . . . But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven” (verse 64). Caiaphas had what he was looking for; he tore his robe and cried, “Blasphemy!” (verse 65). The result of the sham trial was that Jesus was pronounced “worthy of death” and beaten and mocked (verses 66–67). However, since the Jews could not legally execute prisoners, Caiaphas sent Jesus to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate.

Caiaphas accused Jesus of blasphemy, a crime punishable by death under Jewish law. But the Sanhedrin, or high council, of which Caiaphas was president, did not have the authority to execute people. So Caiaphas turned Jesus over to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, who could carry out a death sentence. Caiaphas tried to convince Pilate that Jesus was a threat to Roman stability and had to die to prevent a rebellion.

 

'Oh, I feel terrible! I just wanted to lie down for a minute  and take a quick nap. Must have dozed off.  ////

Josephus... what time is it? Almost three?

This is Friday, isn't it? The Sabbath is almost upon us!

I'd better get up and get going. Hey, who tore my shirt?  Joe ... oh, wait a minute. I know who tore my shirt. I did! Why am I feeling so terrible? I should be feeling victorious... tremendous!! That fanatic, Jesus of Nazareth, is on the Cross. He should be near death. Hope so, anyway. Three o'clock, humm, he's been hanging on that cross for nearly six hours. Let him suffer and die. What good will it do him?

"For three years, that man has been a thorn  in my side. For three years, he's been traveling about proclaiming to be the Promised One... the Messiah sent from the Father. He claimed to be speaking the words of God; claimed to be performing the miracles of God. How could anyone be fooled by him; but then, the people will follow any flash in the pan for a while.

"I wonder how he performed some of those 'miracles?' How did he heal the sick? Ahh, those 'sick' people must have been plants! Wonder how he raised the dead? My own men said that the grave of Lazarus smelled like  death. Maybe this was all a plot to remove me from my position as High Priest.

''How did he multiply those few fish and loaves of bread and feed those thousands of people? No, it wasn't a plot... it was the work of Satan. This Jesus must be in league with Satan.”

"And he's been the devil to me. The people have been listening to his words of love and forgiveness. They haven't been listening to me. I'm Chief Priest! I speak the words of God!”

"Thank God, he's done for. His following will soon forget about him. History will be history!”          "I wish I felt better.”

"It was a disgusting scene last evening. Those foolish witnesses couldn't even agree on the false testimony we prepared for them. Couldn't even get that business straight about Jesus claiming to be able to destroy the Temple and raising it again in three days. That's the last time I'll hire them!”

"But wasn't I crafty? That Jesus almost had the Council on his side when he refused to answer those false charges. Ahh, but then, I made him swear by God's name... 'By God's name, I charge you to swear by His holy Name ... ', that's what I said. I made him swear by God's Name whether he was the Messiah, the Son of God or not. And when he said that he was... oh, I KNEW I had him then!”

"Why did I feel so unsettled ... so unnerved ... when he said that here after I would see the son of man seated on the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven?

I recovered quickly. That's what tore my shirt. What a dramatic move! What a dramatic scene when I tore my shirt in sorrow and shock over his blasphemous statement. Isn't that what King Hezekiah did when he heard the blasphemous words of the Assyrian king against our God? Isn't that our great custom and tradition? Tear your shirt when you hear

blasphemy?

"How proud I am.  What a great movement when I cut off the proper legal procedure of a second trial in the case of death... when I asked the Council for its verdict on the spot! 'Guilty ... Death!' they shouted.”     "A triumph for me! Now this imposter is out of the way forever.

"Wish I felt better.”

"Better be on my way. Must be three o'clock. Hope it's pretty out. I could use a little sunshine. Hey, what happened? It's black as pitch outside.  It was beautiful when I left Golgotha.”

"Josephus, come here. Take this shirt and have it mended. Tell the seamstress to do her best work ... I want to keep this shirt forever.”

"What? What do you mean, my shirt is not the only thing that's ripped up around here?

"That's not funny. You're speaking to the High Priest. The Temple curtain can't be ripped apart. The Temple curtain separating the Holy of Holies from ... come now, only I have access to the Holy of Holies, and that but once a year!”

"Josephus, have you been in the wine?” 

The tombs of many of the dead have been ripped apart and the dead are alive and walking around in Jerusalem.   "God in heaven, what is happening?”

[Leave role of Caiaphas, and ascend the Pulpit orLectern]

A torn shirt, the symbol of repentance. God wants no torn shirt. He desires the contrite heart... the crushed heart... the heart sorry over sin; and yet, He wants the heart that trusts Him for healing and forgiveness.

We come to our God and confess our sins. We tear open our hearts in sorrow, revealing our transgressions. We open our hearts to receive His divine and free absolution.

He places the robe of righteousness upon us... the right­eousness that He earned for us upon Calvary's Cross.  Poor Caiaphas! I hope he feels eternally better!