John 18:12-14, 19-23
12 Then the company of soldiers, the commander, and the Jewish temple police arrested Jesus and tied Him up. 13 First they led Him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was advantageous that one man should die for the people… 19 The high priest questioned Jesus about His disciples and about His teaching. 20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus answered him. “I have always taught in the synagogue and in the temple complex, where all the Jews congregate, and I haven’t spoken anything in secret. 21 Why do you question Me? Question those who heard what I told them. Look, they know what I said.” 22 When He had said these things, one of the temple police standing by slapped Jesus, saying, “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” 23 “If I have spoken wrongly,” Jesus answered him, “give evidence about the wrong; but if rightly, why do you hit Me?”
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me?”
In the Incarnation, God’s history and man’s history collided. Christ blew up the darkness and brought embodied truth into the world. And the world hated Him because He testified to its disorder and He exposed its lies.
And by the “The world” I mean the often ironic human order of life and its collective theory of reality which expresses the preference for life apart from God.
The world hates the truth.
But the hatred of truth is not new. Nor is the world’s response to truth.
It is as old as Lucifer’s rebellion. It is as old as Cain. It is as old as Sanballat and Tobiah. And it is as old as the Sanhedrin.
In this passage, Jesus has been arrested and brought before Annas, the former High Priest and father-in-law of sitting High Priest, Caiaphas who, it states, had already predetermined a verdict in this show trial. There would be no witnesses and no jury. In fact, the religious leaders were so bent on the outcome; they broke more than a dozen of their own laws to achieve their ends.
Annas, almost certain that Jesus was even more of a threat to his “power” than he originally thought, still did not want a trial. The religious leaders had no desire to rock the boat, but Jesus didn’t just rock the boat. He capsized it. They tried to side door Him, but there would be no plea bargain. Jesus demanded that they confront Him head on. They could not avoid the Truth.
History shows that there are two possible responses to mankind’s unavoidable confrontation with the truth, the world’s response and the appropriate response.
The world’s response is not so much a response to truth as it is a reaction to its powerlessness in the light of the truth. When the accuser becomes the accused, his only available defense is mockery, rage and violence — the response of the bully and the coward.
An officer in the court strikes Jesus, more in an attempt to harm His dignity than to do physical damage, but Jesus responds with courage and integrity, in a manner that should resonate with all of us who follow Him today.
Rather than rebuke his opponent, He offers His gift of grace, asking the officer of the court, just as he had the rich young ruler, the woman caught in adultery and many others, to search himself.
The offer is unaccepted but one of the many compelling things about the Bible is that it never “cooks the books”, so to speak. It is gritty and honest about the reality that some are not, nor ever will be, receptive to the Truth.
Pascal once lamented that, unfortunately, too many of us are unable to bear the poverty of our own minds.
It is precisely, however, the acceptance of that poverty of mind that leads to the only appropriate response to the Truth. Rather than continuing to desperately fumble after self-justification, we cry out like the David of Psalm 51 and the Peter in Luke 5:8. And gratefully receive the gift of grace and a justification than can only come from One greater than ourselves.
But the world still hates the Truth.
And it remains oriented away from the Good, the Beautiful and the True, and when confronted still prefers ridicule, ad hominem attacks and violent fervor as a means to suppress the Truth.
Once again, the Scriptures reflect reality. The Bible assures us that the gospel message will be offensive to some, but it also declares that the gospel messenger should be loving.
We are called to stand, steadfast in our declaration of Truth and God’s designed order, and in doing so, possibly face mockery and even persecution, but it is not a surprise to our Lord and as we read in 1 John 3:13, it should be no surprise to us.
We need not respond in kind because we know that the world’s quarrel is not with us but with the Truth and the inherent weakness in its own worldview.
- What is Truth?
- Have you ever been ridiculed or been attacked personally for being a Christian? How did you respond?
- If we are put on trial for our faith, will there be enough evidence to convict?