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The High Priests. Chapter Nineteen in The Alabaster Jar by Theresia Saers

The High Priests

Chapter Nineteen in The Alabaster Jar by Theresia Saers

What follows for Jesus and, naturally, for his most devoted disciple Mary the Magdalene, are twenty-four hours of pure horror. Himself a person who always shows the greatest respect for people, however poor or sick or sinful they may be, Jesus is dragged along the roads to the palaces of the authorities as if he were dirt.

To Annas, the former high priest, who is still powerful where Rabbinic matters are concerned. It was he who had advised the Council that it would be best to execute this Jesus. One of the disciples tried to get Peter into his palace, because Peter felt he had to defend his Master.

Jesus replied in a very self-controlled way to all the questions Annas asked him. ´I have always spoken in public, so why not listen to those that were in my audiences? He knew full well that this was going to be a mock trial. So did the soldiers and they showed it by using violence. I think the gentleness of Jesus ´ answers caused Annas to feel powerless at that moment. Anyway he sent his prisoner to his son-in-law Caiphas, who had already condemned Jesus to death without any form of trial by law.

Caiphas was quicker to understand that in any discussion he would be the loser like the Sadducees and Pharisees before him, decides to pass Jesus on to Pilate, the man who ruled Judea on behalf of the Roman Emperor, as soon day breaks. Jesus has to spend the remainder of the night at the barracks where soldiers may keep him. They know exactly what their superiors think of this prisoner. It is a free for all. Has not this man been outlawed?

So you may spit on him.

You may beat him up.

You may play blindfold with him.

Why not play kings? Try a crown of thorns…

The elders meanwhile try to find witnesses, no matter whether they are dependable or not. The officials pretend to seek justice done, in case they will afterwards have to appease the crowds. One can never know… The stage is set for the very first make-believe trial of a long procession of sham court cases against Christians and other prisoners of conscience in centuries to come.

When the authorities have found a more or less acceptable charge, they carry Jesus off to Pilate, the ruler appointed over the province of Judea by the Romans. The people of Jerusalem, both those that accepted Jesus ´ teachings and those that did not, had all been warned about what was happening at the courts. Thus people came flocking, the very thing that the High Priests had wanted to prevent.

When Mary too saw Jesus a day later in the streets of Jerusalem, she must have been shocked.

´ Wherever I am there my servant shall be. ´ How could she fulfil this word of her Master? What else could she do now but try to stay close to him? As close as possible. The other women too, whose only desire had been to care for him and help him in his ministry, the women were powerless. They sought a chance of comforting Jesus in his sufferings. But there was nothing they can do. And the men were simply not there to advise them about possible help.

The ruler meanwhile found no crime whatsoever in this gentle prisoner; he was aready fully aware of the real motives of the Jews for removimg the Healer-Rabbi. Pilate had come out to hold court where the High Priests could attend it, because they did not want to defile themselves by going into the palace of the pagan prince. The hypocrisy.

'If this one were innocent, we would not have brought him to you,' they said angrily. Pilate began a cat and mouse game.

'Well, then I grant you permission to take him and try him yourself,' he said blandly.

The High Priests gnashed their teeth.

'We have not got the jurisdiction,' they stammered. ' We want him executed. Therefore we have to appeal to your court. '

Pilate decided to hear the prisoner more privately. He had Jesus taken into an inner hall, where he interrogated him. ' Are you the king of the Jews?', he asked. He knew the gossip of the town, but wanted to find out for himself.

'My kingdom is not of this world,' Jesus answered.

'But it is true you are king?'

'It is you who say it', Jesus replied. Pilate was nonplussed. He had private reasons for not putting Jesus on trial. His wife had warned him not to meddle with the Galilean, because she had been told in a dream that the man was one of the Just. And how on earth keep the town quiet at this festive time, when so many people would flock to the city for the Passover Festivities? Pondering this problem, Pilate came upon a perfect solution. He would send the prisoner to Herod, who had jurisdiction over Galilee, thereby referring the case to a Jewish authority. It is true he was not very friendly with Herod, the Tetrarch, but this might be a good opportunity to better their relations. Yes, he would pass his difficulty on to Herod.

© Theresia Saers



Wijngaards Institute for Catholic ResearchThis website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.

The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars' declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.

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