Jesus Questioned by the High Priest

(John 18:19-24)

When Jesus had been taken and arrested by the mob, he was bound and brought before Annas who was the father in law of Caiaphas the high priest. This was only the first of the indignities Jesus would endure at the hands of those who were reputed to be the leaders of the Jews and the religious men of Judaism.

Jesus before the high priest

Jesus was questioned by Annas concerning His disciples and the teaching he was spreading among the Jews. His answers are interesting as is the reaction from the Jews. There are many things we can see and learn from this kangaroo court, for the examination of Jesus could never be considered “a fair trial.”

Question and Answer

Annas questioned Jesus asking Him about his teachings. He wanted to know what Jesus was teaching and telling the disciples.

Jesus responded by saying,

20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret.

21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.”

He told them that if they wanted to know what Jesus taught to go and speak to His disciples. He was saying that they would tell them all they needed to know. Jesus did not have to go through it all with them for the disciples were ready to speak on His behalf about the teachings of the kingdom of God.

Now there is a principle here that Jesus was alluding to as well. Jesus came to teach the gospel to a select group of people and then to die for the sins of all mankind. He came to establish the New Covenant so that all who came after Him would have a chance at life that was so much better than anything promised before.

But the work of spreading the gospel, which is in effect what the high priest was asking Him to divulge, was not the work Jesus planned to do. He gave that work to His followers, to his disciples, apostles and the church. It was the ministry of the disciples to explain and spread the word about Jesus. And that is the principle He was showing here.

As the Teacher he had already now delegated the work and the authority to His disciples to carry on the next phase of the teaching ministry. Jesus was at the point of death and His race was almost run. There was only one major thing left for Him to do for mankind and that was to be put to death and to bear the sins of mankind, at least those who would believe and have faith in Him.

Ad you can see that Jesus had the confidence in His disciples that they were ready for this work. You will note in the last few words of verse 21 where He makes this clear saying, “…they know what I said.” He had already imparted the knowledge of the truth to His people and they knew what He had taught them and were ready to take the next step.

The Priestly Response

After Jesus had made these statements we see how the Jews reacted in verse 22.

When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?”

Now it was a sin under the Old Testament law to speak ill of a leader of the people. And that was certainly the case where the high priest was concerned. So the man who struck Jesus considered He was being impertinent by not answering the questions of the high priest.

However Jesus did answer the high priest and gave him sufficient information to obtain the answers he needed. He was not being difficult, stubborn or impertinent and the man who struck Jesus was completely in the wrong by taking that action.

Would it have mattered? Probably not. The high priest and the Jews were seeking something they could pin on Jesus so their judgement would appear to be just in the eyes of the people. Jesus was having none of that and so His responses were carefully put together so that if they DID choose to go to the people to get an answer, they would find the truth and be put to shame.

Jesus responded to the man who struck Him saying in verse 23,

Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?”

He pointed out that the man had struck Him wrongfully. (As an aside, I don't think I would like to be in that man's shoes on the day of judgement, unless of course he came to The Lord afterwards.) it is clear evidence of the actions of a kangaroo court with zero regard for the word and the rights of the one under judgement. At least when The Lord returns to judge the world it will be done with fairness and equity. His justice will be true and there will be no mistake and no unfairness.

In the end the process, despite how unfair, biased and wrong it was, it was,meant to happen. This was all part of the process that led to the death of The Lord and thus led to Him giving us life. It was in the will of God and His will shall be done…always.


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