“Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.” 22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded. 23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.” John 18.19-24
The trial for Jesus had begun. And although John and Peter were nearby, they were in no condition to help. John was willing but had no authority. Peter was denying Christ already and would continue to do so a second and third time. Jesus was on his own. At one point, while on the cross, even the Father would appear to leave him.
The high priest, who Jesus knew, was questioning Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus replies to the high priest and tells him “I have spoken openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret.” And yet, what he said and how he said it was highly offensive to the Jews because he called them out on how they worshipped the Father, and often neglected loving God in exchange for obeying rules.
Jesus continued by saying, “Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.” And at this, one of the officials near Jesus slapped him in the face. We do not know who it was but he was offended at Jesus’ words saying, “Is this how you answer the high priest?” Jesus was up against men who had wanted him dead for a long time. What he said was not going to change their mind because he was calling them out in their sin.
After being slapped Jesus said, “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” This was the trial of Jesus that would send him to the cross to defeat sin and death. Yet it was no easy journey. The evil within men who love their sin would not give way to his holiness. The Jews, although not all were evil, had rejected Jesus as the Messiah and would not stop until they removed him from the earth.
We are recipients of his grace. His trial, although horrific and unjust, leads to our salvation. Jesus endured the pain, suffering, humiliation and disgrace because he loves his people. He loves the Jews and the Gentiles alike. We have a choice to embrace his love or reject his offer of forgiveness and redemption.
I chose grace! When I reflect upon my own life, my brokenness and sin, I am grateful for the power of Jesus to save me. He did what no one else could or would do on behalf of humanity.
“O Lord God, you are good. In my failures, you bring healing. You faced death on my behalf. So many years ago you came to earth to live, to love, to die and eventually to be raised to new life. You are good and you are God! Thank you for loving me. Come now, Holy Spirit, reside within this body. Let it be your Temple. Make me holy just as indeed you are holy. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen