Mk 14:43-52 Judas leads the temple guards – armed with swords and clubs – to arrest Jesus. In the darkness, Judas identifies Jesus with a kiss – a sign of friendship used when a disciple greets a Jewish rabbi. A fight ensues and the disciples flee. Jesus is led back across the Kidron Valley and up the slope into the old City of David (see 2 on Map 13).
The Sacred Steps (Scala Sacra) – which can be climbed today near the reputed site of the High Priest’s house – may well mark Jesus’s final route up into the city.
The Scala Sacra (Sacred Steps)
leading up from the Kidron Valley
Jn 18:12-24 Jesus is led before Annas, one of the chief priests and the father-in-law of the High Priest, to decide what charges will be brought against him when the Jewish Council (the Sanhedrin) meets early in the morning.
The Church of the House of Annas, just inside the Zion Gate in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, was built in the 14th century on what is believed to be the site of Annas’s house (see Map 13).
Jesus appears before the Sanhedrin
Mk 14:53-66 At dawn on the Friday morning, just before 6.00am, Jesus is brought before Caiaphas – the Jewish High Priest who is the leader of the Jewish council (the Sanhedrin) (see 3 on Map 13).
False witnesses testify against Jesus but their stories conflict. Jesus remains silent and refuses to answer any questions (see Isaiah 53:7), but he agrees that he is the Christ (the Messiah) when asked directly by the High Priest. Jesus adds that they will all see ‘the Son of Man’ (a name for the Messiah, used by Jesus – see Daniel 7:13-14) sitting in glory at the right hand of God and coming on the clouds of heaven.
The High Priest is furious and tears his clothes – although he is breaking the Jewish law by doing so (see Leviticus 21:10). Jesus is convicted of blasphemy by the Jewish elders of the Sanhedrin, and is deemed to deserve the death penalty (which can only be authorised by the Roman procurator). (See the feature on Who was the Messiah? in Section 2.)
Mk 14:66-72 Meanwhile, Peter is in the courtyard below, following at a safe distance, but his Galilean accent betrays him as a follower of Jesus. He denies any knowledge of the condemned prisoner three times. Then the cock crows as morning dawns – and Peter breaks down in tears as he remembers Jesus’s words spoken just a few hours earlier (see Mark 14:30).
The reputed site of Caiaphas’s House is marked today by the modern church of St Peter in Gallicantu (meaning ‘where the cock crowed’) (see 3 on Map 13). Inside, a striking series of colourful mosaics depicts the trial of Jesus and his betrayal by Peter. Beneath the church, an arched room hewn out of the rock is believed to be the cell where Jesus was kept prior to appearing before the High Priest and the Sanhedrin at dawn.
Mosaic showing Jesus being abused at the House of Caiaphas
inside the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu, Jerusalem