Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests - Caiaphas was the son-in-law of Annas or Ananias, and it is supposed that they exercised the high priest's office by turns. It is likely that Annas only was considered as high priest; and that Caiaphas was what the Hebrews termed משנה כהן cohen mishneh, or כהנים סגן sagan cohanim, the high priest's deputy, or ruler of the temple. See the note on Matthew 2:4, and on John 18:13.
The facts which St. Luke mentions here tend much to confirm the truth of the evangelical history. Christianity differs widely from philosophic system; it is founded in the goodness and authority of God; and attested by historic facts. It differs also from popular tradition, which either has had no pure origin, or which is lost in unknown or fabulous antiquity. It differs also from pagan and Mohammedan revelations, which were fabricated in a corner, and had no witnesses. In the above verses we find the persons, the places, and the times marked with the utmost exactness. It was under the first Caesars that the preaching of the Gospel took place; and in their time, the facts on which the whole of Christianity is founded made their appearance: an age the most enlightened, and best known from the multitude of its historic records. It was in Judea, where every thing that professed to come from God was scrutinized with the most exact and unmerciful criticism. In writing the history of Christianity, the evangelists appeal to certain facts which were publicly transacted in such places, under the government and inspection of such and such persons, and in such particular times. A thousand persons could have confronted the falsehood, had it been one! These appeals are made - a challenge is offered to the Roman government, and to the Jewish rulers and people - a new religion has been introduced in such a place, at such a time - this has been accompanied with such and such facts and miracles! Who can disprove this? All are silent. None appears to offer even an objection. The cause of infidelity and irreligion is at stake! If these facts cannot be disproved, the religion of Christ must triumph. None appears because none could appear. Now let it be observed, that the persons of that time, only, could confute these things had they been false; they never attempted it; therefore these facts are absolute and incontrovertible truths: this conclusion is necessary. Shall a man then give up his faith in such attested facts as these, because, more than a thousand years after, an infidel creeps out, and ventures publicly to sneer at what his iniquitous soul hopes is not true!
The word of God came unto John - That is, the Holy Spirit that revealed to him this doctrine of salvation. This came upon him in the desert, where he was living in such a state of austerity as gave him full right to preach all the rigours of penitence to others. Thus we find that the first preachers, historians, and followers of the doctrines of the Gospel were men eminent for the austerity of their lives, the simplicity of their manners, and the sanctity of their conduct; they were authorized by God, and filled with the most precious gifts of his Spirit. And what are the apostles which the new philosophy sends us? Philosophers full of themselves, not guided by the love of truth or wisdom, but ever seeking their own glory; in constant hostility among themselves, because of their separate pretensions to particular discoveries, of the honor of which they would almost as soon lose life as be deprived. Who are they? Men of a mortified life and unblamable conversation? No, they are poets and poetasters; composers of romances, novels, intrigues, farces, comedies, etc., full of extravagance and impurity. They are pretended moralists that preach up pleasure and sensual gratification, and dissolve, as far as they can, the sacred and civil ties that unite and support society. They are men whose guilt is heightened by their assuming the sacred name of philosophers, and dignifying their impure system with a name at which Philosophy herself blushes and bleeds.
Annas and Caiaphas being highpriests - There was, properly speaking, but one high priest of the Jews; yet the name of high priest continued to be given to those who had been in that office, and especially when they still possessed some civil office after they had left the high priesthood. In this case it appears that “Caiapas” was high priest, and Annas “had been,” but had been dismissed from the office. It is highly probable that he still held an office under the Romans, and was perhaps president of the Sanhedrin. He is mentioned before Caiaphas because he was the father-in-law to Caiaphas, and probably was the eldest, and had been longest in office. Instances similar to this may be found in Josephus.
There is one remark to be made here about the manner in which the gospels are written. They have every mark of openness and honesty. An impostor does not mention names, and times, and places particularly. If he did, it would be easy to ascertain that he was an impostor. But the sacred writers describe objects and people as if they were perfectly familiar with them. They never appear to be “guarding” themselves. They speak of things most minutely. If, therefore, they had been impostors, it would have been easy to detect them. If, for example, John did not begin to preach in the 15th year of Tiberius - if Philip was “not” tetrarch of Iturea - if Pontius Pilate was not governor of Judea, how easy would it have been to detect them in falsehood! Yet it was never done. Nay, we have evidence of that age, in Josephus, that these descriptions are strictly true; and, consequently, the gospels must have been written by people who were personally acquainted with what they wrote, who were not impostors, and who were “honest” people. If they were “honest,” then the Christian religion is true.
John was called to do a special work; he was to prepare the way of the Lord, to make straight His paths. The Lord did not send him to the school of the prophets and rabbis. He took him away from the assemblies of men to the desert, that he might learn of nature and nature's God. God did not desire him to have the mold of the priests and rulers. He was called to do a special work. The Lord gave him his message. Did he go to the priests and rulers and ask if he might proclaim this message?—No, God put him away from them that he might not be influenced by their spirit and teaching. He was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” (Isaiah 40:3-5). This is the very message that must be given to our people; we are near the end of time, and the message is, Clear the King's highway; gather out the stones; raise up a standard for the people. The people must be awakened. It is no time now to cry peace and safety. We are exhorted to “cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isaiah 5:1). 1SM 410.1
The light of the glory of God shone upon our Representative, and this fact says to us that the glory of God may shine upon us. With His human arm, Jesus encircled the race, and with His divine arm He grasped the throne of the Infinite, connecting man with God, and earth with heaven. 1SM 410.2Read in context »
Already he had begun thus to retrace his steps, when the news sounded through Jericho that Jesus was entering the town. Zacchaeus determined to see Him. He was beginning to realize how bitter are the fruits of sin, and how difficult the path of him who tries to return from a course of wrong. To be misunderstood, to be met with suspicion and distrust in the effort to correct his errors, was hard to bear. The chief publican longed to look upon the face of Him whose words had brought hope to his heart. DA 553.1
The streets were crowded, and Zacchaeus, who was small of stature, could see nothing over the heads of the people. None would give way for him; so, running a little in advance of the multitude, to where a wide-branching fig tree hung over the way, the rich tax collector climbed to a seat among the boughs, whence he could survey the procession as it passed below. The crowd comes near, it is going by, and Zacchaeus scans with eager eyes to discern the one figure he longs to see. DA 553.2
Above the clamor of priests and rabbis and the shouts of welcome from the multitude, that unuttered desire of the chief publican spoke to the heart of Jesus. Suddenly, just beneath the fig tree, a group halts, the company before and behind come to a standstill, and One looks upward whose glance seems to read the soul. Almost doubting his senses, the man in the tree hears the words, “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house.” DA 553.3Read in context »
[Appeared in Notebook Leaflets, Methods, No. 1.]
We are living in the last days of this earth's history, and we may be surprised at nothing in the line of apostasies and denials of the truth. Unbelief has now come to be a fine art which men work at to the destruction of their souls. There is constant danger of there being shams in pulpit preachers, whose lives contradict the words they speak; but the voice of warning and of admonition will be heard as long as time shall last; and those who are guilty of transactions that should never be entered into, when reproved or counseled through the Lord's appointed agencies, will resist the message and refuse to be corrected. They will go on as did Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar, until the Lord takes away their reason, and their hearts become unimpressible. The Lord's word will come to them; but if they choose not to hear it, the Lord will make them responsible for their own ruin. 2SM 147.1Read in context »
“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; ...for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” [Hebrews 11:5.] GW 54.1
To such communion God is calling us. As was Enoch's, so must be their holiness of character who shall be redeemed from among men at the Lord's second coming. GW 54.2Read in context »