The Temple v Jesus of Nazareth – 3

Int          You told us yesterday that you were no longer concerned in investigating Jesus bar Joseph  and his followers but that you were instructed to monitor the situation. Can you explain what it is you were being commanded to do?

Off         The day after the incident I described yesterday I was instructed by one of the High Priest’s messengers to attend a hearing the following morning. At that hearing, the High Priest (Caiaphas) was present as well as the former High Priest Annas, my commanding officer, and two other people whose names I don’t know but whom I recognised as members of the High Priest’s personal bodyguard.

I was instructed to disband my cohort and to inform them that they were not to discuss any matters relating to the man Jesus. I was seconded to Annas’ personal staff and told to report to him directly the following morning.

I met with the members of my squad and re-assigned them to duties as far from Jerusalem as I could justify and made certain other provisions regarding my own personal safety. It was not unheard of for Temple guards and policemen to “disappear” in circumstances similar to what I have described here.

I reported to Annas who told me that the matter of Jesus was no longer the concern of the Temple police, that it had been decided that his followers would pose no threat in his absence, and that he would be arrested within a few days. I was to observe but nothing else.

Int          What did you understand from this sudden change of tactic?

Off         It was clear that the Sanhedrin had inside information and most likely that they were protecting an informer who would arrange for Jesus to be in an agreed place at an agreed time. What would happen to him then was evidently not going to be something that the Temple police could be involved in.

In the end it was one of his own followers who led them to him at Passover. There was one place where he frequently went to pray in the evening and that was where they were led to. It says a lot about how the people felt about him and about the authorities that they had to use a bunch of thugs to more or less kidnap him at dead of night.

After that it was a question of hawking him around from Caiaphas to Annas to Pilate to Herod and back to Pilate again to find someone prepared to condemn him to death. Needless to say no-one wanted anything to do with him but Annas played Pilate like a lute. “Do as I ask or I’ll tell Caesar what a useless prefect you really are” sort of thing.

Annas was desperate not to be the one to be seen making the decision. He kept harping on about blasphemy and how Jesus deserved to die but how they weren’t allowed to kill him. Which Pilate saw for the trick it was. They were happy enough to stone adulterers but they wanted this death to be seen to be at the hands of Rome and they wanted crucifixion as a deterrent to others.

Pilate tried his hardest but Caiaphas’ thugs were everywhere in the crowd  yelling “crucify him”. The only person there who was calm was Jesus. Pilate had had him whipped and his soldiers had added a few touches of their own. The Sanhedrin had accused him of claiming to be King of the Jews though I never heard him say that so the soldiers had put a robe on him and made a crown of thorns and put it on his head. He was a mess but he just stood there totally calm.

Eventually Pilate just said, “Do what you like” which is hardly a judicial sentence but was enough. He went so far as to oversee the execution because he had to or lose control — and his job the minute Rome found out — so the actual sentence was carried out properly by a centurion and four, or maybe five, soldiers. Whether it was a proper sentence is not for me to judge but I would say it is at least open to challenge.

Int          Would you agree with the argument that has been put by some in the Temple, which is the reason for this Inquiry, that this execution was in reality a quasi-judicial murder instigated by the High Priest’s father-in-law Annas, to protect what had become a corrupt establishment and that Jesus’ teaching was closer to scriptural tradition and his condemnation of the Pharisees justified?

Off         You are asking the wrong person. All I would say is that I never heard Jesus teach anything that ran counter to the scriptures. Eventually his followers came to believe that he was son of God and, as such, probably the Messiah but those I spoke to were adamant that this realisation came to them on account of the miracles he performed and the good actions he carried out, not because he had told them so.

Int          Do you believe that the Temple authorities were responsible for killing the Messiah?

Off         [Pause]  I think it’s quite possible. But I think it was ordained from the beginning. At the end he called  down forgiveness on those who had condemned him. If, as he said to Pilate, his kingdom was “not of this world” it is possible that some form of high-profile ritual death was essential to some great plan. One thing is sure; I don’t think we have heard the last of this business.

Int          Thank you.

 

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