Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12

362/457

Ms 102, 1897

Caiaphas

NP

September 26, 1897

Portions of this manuscript are published in 5BC 1105.

“And the chief priests and the council sought for witness to put Jesus to death, and found none. For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together. And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying, We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands. But neither did their witness agree together. And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? What is it that these witness against thee? But he held his peace and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” [Mark 14:55-61.] “I adjure thee by the living God that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus said unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” [Matthew 26:63, 64.] 12LtMs, Ms 102, 1897, par. 1

“The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies [thy] footstool.” [Matthew 22:44.] “And there was given unto him dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve and obey him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” [Daniel 7:14.] “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” [Matthew 24:31.] 12LtMs, Ms 102, 1897, par. 2

At that day Christ, then standing before His judges, will be the Judge. Every secret thing will be set in the light of God’s countenance. Sinners will see their sins without a shadow to veil or soften their hideousness. So awful will be the sight that they will desire to be hidden under the everlasting mountains or in the depths of the ocean, if only they can escape the wrath of the Lamb. 12LtMs, Ms 102, 1897, par. 3

What a contrast will there then be between the cases of those who have refused Christ and those who have received Him as their personal Saviour. “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believed on his name.” [John 1:12.] What a testimony will be borne in their behalf. They can say, “I believed in Him who was condemned at Pilate’s bar, and given up to the priests and rulers to be crucified. Look not upon me, a sinner, but look upon my Advocate. There is nothing in me worthy of the love He manifested for me; but He gave His life for me. Behold me in Jesus. He became sin for me that I might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 12LtMs, Ms 102, 1897, par. 4

The time was to come when Christ’s words would be repeated again and again and again, and communicated to others. But the idea that there was to be a resurrection of the dead, when all would stand at the bar of God, to be awarded according to their works, was not a pleasant thought to Caiaphas. He did not wish to think that in future he would receive sentence according to his works. If there was to be no resurrection, he could flatter himself with the thought, How securely I can keep my counsel. But if there was, what a revelation would be made of his dark deeds. There rushed before his mind as a panorama the scenes of the final judgment. For a moment he saw the fearful spectacle of the graves giving up their dead, with the secrets he had hoped were hidden forever. For a moment he felt as though he were standing before the eternal Judge, whose eye, which sees all things, was reading his soul, bringing to light mysteries supposed to be hidden with the dead. 12LtMs, Ms 102, 1897, par. 5

The scene passed from the priest’s vision. Christ’s words cut him, the Sadducee, to the quick. He was maddened by satanic furry. Was this man, a prisoner before him, to assail his most cherished theories? Rending his robe, that the people might see his pretended horror, he demanded that without further preliminaries, the prisoner be condemned for blasphemy. “The high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye?” [Matthew 26:65, 66.] And they all condemned Him. 12LtMs, Ms 102, 1897, par. 6

The act of the high priest in tearing his robe meant more than many can see or understand, for their eyes are blinded. Many read the record without taking in the meaning of this act, any more than did Caiaphas. The high priest was not to rend his garment. By the Levitical law, this was prohibited under penalty of death. Under no circumstances, on no occasion, was the high priest to rend his garment. Express command was given by Christ to Moses, that this should not be done. 12LtMs, Ms 102, 1897, par. 7

It was the general custom for the garments to be rent at the death of friends. The only exception to this was in the case of the high priest. Even Aaron, when he lost his two sons because they did not glorify God as had been specified, was forbidden to show sorrow and mourning by rending his garments. The prohibition was positive. “And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar, and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people; but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the Lord hath kindled.” [Leviticus 10:6.] 12LtMs, Ms 102, 1897, par. 8

This law was made because everything worn by the high priest was to be whole and without blemish. By these beautiful official garments was represented the character of the great antitype, Jesus Christ. The pattern of the priestly robes was made known to Moses in the mount. Every article that the high priest was to wear, and how it should be made, was specified. These garments were consecrated to a most solemn purpose. They covered the priest with glory and beauty, and striking the people with awe, made the dignity of the office appear. When clothed with these garments, the high priest was fitted for his holy official work. Then he presented himself as a representative character, representing the nation of Israel, and showing by his garments the glory that Israel should reveal to the world as the chosen people of God. 12LtMs, Ms 102, 1897, par. 9

The high priest who dared to appear in holy office with a rent robe, and engage in the service of the sanctuary with a rent robe, was looked upon as having severed himself from God. By rending his garment, he cut himself off from being a representative character. Virtually, he was no longer accepted by God as an officiating priest. This course of action, as exhibited by Caiaphas, showed human passion, human imperfection. 12LtMs, Ms 102, 1897, par. 10

By rending his garment, Caiaphas made of none effect the law of God to follow the tradition of men. A man-made law provided that, in case of blasphemy, a priest might rend his garments in horror at the sin, and be guiltless. Thus the law of God was made void by the laws of men. 12LtMs, Ms 102, 1897, par. 11

Each action of the high priest was watched with interest by many; and Caiaphas thought for effect to whom his great outward piety. But by his very act he was committing blasphemy against God. He desired to show his great zeal and obedience; and by displaying a horror that caused him to rend his beautiful and supposedly sanctified garments, he gained a fanatical admiration. But he transgressed the law of God as virtually as did Adam when he ate of the fruit of the tree forbidden by God. It is disobedience to God’s commands that creates every phase of sin. 12LtMs, Ms 102, 1897, par. 12

This pretended horror for sin has been acted out over and over again in matters connected with church history. The passions of a vile heart have been expressed by like deeds. And by exaggerated religious zeal and pretended piety men will again deceive and delude their fellow men. 12LtMs, Ms 102, 1897, par. 13

Thus Caiaphas did. But in so doing, he was acting blasphemously against the Son of God. He showed that he did not believe the Old Testament Scriptures, which contained the foundation principles that his official position represented, and that he was appointed to proclaim. By his skepticism he was countermining all that God had established to keep in view the world unseen and the grand spiritual truth that there are angelic agencies who minister to the inhabitants of the earth, co-operating with those who choose truth, eternal truth, in regard to the resurrection of the dead and the future eternal life. 12LtMs, Ms 102, 1897, par. 14

For thus rending his garment in pretended zeal, the high priest might have been arraigned before the Sanhedrin. He had done the very thing that the Lord had commanded should not be done. Standing under the condemnation of God, he pronounced sentence on Christ as a blasphemer. He performed all his actions toward Christ as a priestly judge, as an officiating high priest, but he was not this by the appointment of God. The priestly robe he rent in order to impress the people with his horror of the sin of blasphemy covered a heart full of wickedness. He was acting under the inspiration of Satan. Under a gorgeous priestly dress, he was fulfilling the work of the enemy of God. This has been done again and again by priests and rulers. 12LtMs, Ms 102, 1897, par. 15

The rent garment ended Caiaphas’ priesthood. By his own action he disqualified himself for the priestly office. After the condemnation of Christ, he was unable to act without showing the most unreasonable passion. His tortured conscience scourged him, but he did not feel that sorrow that leads to repentance. 12LtMs, Ms 102, 1897, par. 16

The religion of those that crucified Christ was a pretense. The supposed holy vestments of the priests covered hearts that were full of corruption, malignity, and crime. They interpreted gain to be godliness. The priests were appointed, not by God, but by an unbelieving government. The position of priest was bought and sold like goods of merchandise. Thus it as that Caiaphas obtained the office. He was not a priest after the order of Melchizedek, but God’s appointment. He was bought and sold to work wickedness. He never knew what it was to be obedient to God. He had the form of godliness, and this gave him the power to oppress. 12LtMs, Ms 102, 1897, par. 17

When Caiaphas rent his garment, his action was significant of the place that the Jewish nation as a nation would in future occupy toward God. As a whole, the Jewish nation had apostatized. The once favored people of God had become divorced from Him. Christ came to them with His message, but it was despised. As He stood on the crest of Olivet just prior to hid crucifixion, He wept over Jerusalem, and lamented the fall of her people, saying, “If thou hadst known, even thou in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace; but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and keep thee on every side. And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” [Luke 19:42-44.] 12LtMs, Ms 102, 1897, par. 18

The most solemn period of responsibility for the Jewish nation was when Christ was in their midst, working the works of God. It was that generation that rejected the Messiah. Christ addressed them as the most guilty, because they had the Word of God. “It is not only delegates, servants, and prophets to whom you have refused to listen,” He declared, “but your Redeemer. Ye would none of my counsel, ye despised all my reproof. Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me? If thou art destroyed, O Jerusalem, thyself alone wilt be responsible. Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.” [See Proverbs 1:30; John 14:9; 5:40.] 12LtMs, Ms 102, 1897, par. 19

Christ wept in an agony of tears, not for Himself, but for the doomed thousands in the devoted city. He was not flattered by the hollow shouts of the multitude. He foresaw the retribution coming upon Jerusalem, which the deluded, selfish, proud nation, disloyal to God, could not, would not, see. 12LtMs, Ms 102, 1897, par. 20