Annas became High Priest in Israel in 6AD, and was later deposed by Valerius Gratus in 15AD, however he managed to cling on to power due to his being the head of a family that was specialist in corruption with a tinge of religiosity. He was the power behind subsequent high priests, Eleazar and Annas’ son-on-law Caiphas.
Annas masterminded a sacrificial animal racket in that it was he, or his representatives, who determined whether a worshipper’s animal was ‘worthy’ for sacrifice or not. If it was not considered by Annas’ men to be worthy, then a new one had to be purchased – from Annas’ men! With the faulty animal being taken as part-exchange. Then a little bit later, someone else would come by with a ‘faulty’ animal to be checked, the men would replace this with the previous chap’s faulty goods. It was an absolutely huge racket, and one that Jesus was furious about when he saw that God’s house truly was turned into a den of robbers (Matthew 21:13). So no wonder with Annas being the head of such a mighty corporation, they wondered by whose authority he was doing these things (Matthew 21:23). According to Annas, Jesus was bad news – not only was he rocking the religious boat, but also he was costing the cartel a bit too much in the way of profit.
Thanks to Uncle Chuck Swindoll for this, and for his excellent book: ‘The Greatest Life of All: Jesus’.