The high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine.
Jesus answered him, “I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing. Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said.”
And when He had said these things, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, “Do You answer the high priest like that?”
Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?”
Then Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas, the high priest.
This is like the joke, “Rabbi, why do you always answer a question with a question?”
“Why do you want to know?”
Jesus gets slapped for the insolence of responding to the high priest with a question.
But what Jesus does is perfectly proper. He’s not insulting the high priest; He’s giving the most complete answer possible. His teaching is a matter of public record. Furthermore, the witness of others is always preferred to one’s own claims.
“If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true.” — John 5:31
So, Jesus is simply making a better case by noting the legally preferable witnesses.
Every stage of Jesus’s trial will involve Him speaking truth to power. This will throw His accusers for a loop. People normally grovel when they’re on trial for their life. They don’t want to die and they’re afraid. So, they act accordingly.
But none of this applies to Jesus. He’s in control. Plus, He knows more than His accusers do.
So, this isn’t just about attitude and confidence. Normally, defendants are at an information disadvantage; they don’t know what rabbits the prosecution will pull out of their hat next. (In the US legal system, there are numerous protections, such as discovery, to counter this natural disadvantage, but there was none of that back then.)
But Jesus’s trial flips all that on its head. Jesus has inside knowledge on every one of His accusers. He knows more about them than they know themselves. Yet He won’t use this to win, and He won’t come across as cocky.
He will teach. That’s what He always does.
These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:
The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.