“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.’” John 18:19–21
Jesus had so conducted his ministry so that there was no evidence to be used against him in his trial. His words had been carefully chosen; they could not be used against him. His actions had been carefully executed so that they could not be used against him either.
That first trial that night in the house of Annas, former high priest and the father in law of the current high priest, was conducted in an effort to gain the evidence they needed to condemn him. All the previous encounters with Jewish leadership had been with subordinates and Annas flattered himself that he would succeed where they had all failed.
A skilled questioner can create confusion in the mind of the one being questioned and manipulated them into saying something that can be used against them. John’s record suggests that Annas began by asking him about his ministry and that of his disciples. To this Jesus’ only reply was that he had done nothing in secret. He had always taught in synagogues and in the temple. He counseled that they should any of the hundreds and thousands that had heard him and they could witness before the counsel regarding his teachings.
One of the soldiers standing by, an officer, struck Jesus across the face, rebuking him for his response to Annas questions.
Jesus reaction to this attack was to question his attacker, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?”
After this John records no further words from Jesus. The other Gospels also record Jesus silence before his accusers and this fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah predicting that the Messiah would be silent as a sheep being shorn. In fact, it was only after Jesus was appealed to in the name of God to tell them who he was that he ended his silence affirming that he is the Son of God and then testifying, “Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Matthew 26:64
Jesus never lost composure or self control before his accusers. His answers were brief and respectful. The Holy Spirit is able to produce in us the same qualities required so that we too can stand as patient, faithful children of God before the provocations and accusations of the world.
The witness of Stephen in the book of Acts stands as a record affirming this truth. In fact Stephen’s final witness before his stoning is a partial fulfillment of Jesus final words before the Jewish court, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
Friends, today we may decide against Jesus in our hearts and minds, and even in our courts, but one day Jesus is going to be revealed in power and glory. It’s our belief today that prepares us for that day.