Int You said in your replies yesterday that the activities of Jesus bar Joseph and his followers had — if I may put it this way — “crossed a line” as far as the Sanhedrin was concerned and that simply keeping the Procurator happy was no longer all this was about. Can you explain?
Off Jesus began taking aim at the Pharisees themselves or at least that was the way they saw it. He started calling them hypocrites, whited sepulchres, more concerned with outward show and their own status than with the teachings of scripture. And there were several cases where they tried to set traps for him.
Int Can you give us examples of that, please?
Off We arrested a woman for committing adultery and were told to take her to the Temple forecourt where Jesus was preaching. They asked him what her punishment should be. Moses said she should be stoned. What did he say? He didn’t answer directly, just said, “any of you who has never sinned can throw the first stone” and then started tracing lines in the dust. I couldn’t see from where I was but others said he had been writing names. Anyway the half-dozen Pharisees who had posed the question got up and left, one by one. Draw your own conclusions.
On another occasion they asked him if it was lawful to pay Imperial taxes. He simply asked them to show him the coin and tell him whose head was on it. They said it was Caesar’s and he said, “well, pay Caesar what is his due.” And then he added “and while you are it, remember to pay God what is his!” That didn’t go down well. Anyway, what was evident was that whatever his plans they didn’t involve overthrowing the Roman Empire.
Int What was the affair at the Feast of Tabernacles that other witnesses have said was the final straw?
Off By this time we were under instructions to keep Jesus and his group under constant surveillance but we lost him because while most of them came up to Jerusalem for the Feast he went off somewhere on his own and gave us the slip. Next thing we heard he was in the Temple itself, teaching the crowds. He was very impressive. Everything he said was sound doctrine based on the scriptures and he was demonstrating just how the prophecies pointed towards the coming of the Messiah.
The thing was that what he was saying was quite clear and understandable. All the time I followed him he had been talking in parables, especially when the authorities were around. Not today. But he said one thing that I knew would come back to haunt him.
Somebody asked where he got all this knowledge from if he had never been taught. “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me,” he said. “Anyone who resolves to do God’s bidding will know whether the teaching is God’s or my own.” It really wasn’t difficult to work out what he was saying and quite a few around were saying things like “Is this the Messiah?” “He certainly teaches with authority which is more than the priests do half the time.” “Is this why he hasn’t been arrested? Because they know he’s the Messiah?”
The answer to the last question, of course, is “no; he hasn’t been arrested because the Scribes and the Pharisees are at each others throats as usual and haven’t given me any orders!”
On the last day of the Festival they finally decided. Too late as usual. Annas finally made up his mind because Caiaphas was still dithering. “Pick him up,” he said to me. “Just don’t rough him up. We don’t want to start a riot.”
By the time I got down to where he was talking I would have needed a squad five times the size and I was beginning to realise that I couldn’t necessarily count even on my own guys. The crowd were about two-to-one that he was the Messiah and the remaining one thought he was probably Isaiah or Elijah come back as his forerunners as some texts suggested.
We beat a tactical retreat and reported to the Sanhedrin. Somebody mentioned the Messiah and Annas nearly had a seizure. “The man’s from ***** Galilee. Some tinpot village or other. Nazareth? We know where the Messiah is coming from. All the scriptures tell us: family of David. Bethlehem. Got it?”
And then some bright guy, possibly Nicodemus, piped up “I don’t know about his family but he was born in Bethlehem.” And you can imagine what reaction that caused. I’m sorry to say that all the squad had great trouble keeping their faces straight. I know it was a serious business but it’s not often we get to see the boss’s nose quite so seriously out of joint.
Anyway that was the end of our involvement officially but three of us were asked to keep a watching brief on developments.
Int Thankyou. We have other witnesses to see but if you could make yourself available again tomorrow your information on what transpired in the build-up to the following Passover feast would be most helpful to this inquiry.