We now go to the first hearing Jesus had, this one before Annas. Annas had been the high priest before Caiaphas but had been deposed from his position by the Roman government. Nevertheless, he was still held in high regard by the spiritual leadership, and some think he was the true power behind Caiaphas.
At any rate, he questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. But Jesus essentially deflected the questions and said, “My ministry has always been public. Everyone knows what I have taught. Ask them.”
In saying this, Jesus was pointing them to the law that they claimed to revere, and was basically telling them, “If you are going to charge me for some wrongdoing, call witnesses up and have them testify. That’s what the law says, isn’t it?”
At which point, one of the officials struck him in the face, saying, “Is this the way you answer the high priest?”
If I said something wrong…testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me? (23)
In other words, “I’m merely pointing out that you should be following the law and calling witnesses. If what I said is wrong, tell me exactly how I’m wrong. But if I’m telling the truth, what right do you have to strike me?”
There was no answer the high priest could give to this. Jesus was right, after all. And so they had him sent to Caiaphas for the formal hearing.
But Jesus’ words make me think, “How do we respond to the truth when people confront us with it, particularly when we know we’re wrong?”
Are we like Annas, proud and refusing to admit our wrong? Are we like his officer, and abuse those who tell us the truth?
Or do we humbly accept the truth?
Truth can be hard to hear sometimes. Honestly, there are times when I can be really hard-hearted. And more than once, God had to step into the situation and say, “Bruce, listen.”
Even then, there was a struggle. I don’t like to admit I’m wrong. And often times, I simply want to do things my own way.
But as followers of Christ, we can’t live that way. We need to be lovers of the truth. Even when it hurts.
So as James said,
Get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (James 1:21-22)
How do you respond to people who confront you with truth?