The Series - Jesus, Unique & Unequaled Teacher (45/TBD)
Focus Text: John 18.19-23
Under the cover of darkness, Judas betrayed the Master with a kiss of abject depravity. There was no more ruse to be played out on Judas’ part; Jesus’ hour had come!
“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?’” (John 18.19-23).
Annas (the person whom McGarvey calls the high priest de jure) doubtless was seeking information for the purpose of crafting an accusation against Jesus. Had the case been one of sedition or civil rebellion, Annas would not have followed this line of questioning in as much as any authority he had was in the religious realm as opposed to the civil realm. Rather, he pursued the line of questioning that had to do with what Jesus taught and things pertaining to His disciples. The response of Jesus is interesting in that He effectively said, “If your real quest is to know what I taught, you would not have to ask me; you could ask almost anyone in or around Jerusalem. I taught openly and nothing in secret.”
This response was a two-edged sword. For one thing, it demonstrated that His opponents had no case at all. If they had a case, they would have simply presented the evidence against Him in as much as anyone who wanted to hear Him teach could have easily done so. In the second place, it demonstrated their lack of diligence and belied other motives on their part. The officer who struck Jesus felt the force of His words and reacted in a manner befitting the rogues that they were. Yet Jesus continued to speak with calm and resolute words, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil, but if well, why do you strike me?”
In addition to seeing a part of the character of Jesus in this exchange, we can also see His approach to teaching. He had no secret doctrines; all His teachings were out in the open and available for any who chose to hear. There was no “key to the Scriptures” or secret code in the Scriptures. Like His teachings, there is nothing hidden or dark! What was available to one was available to all when it came to truth and access to truth. The limiter on what His hearers or followers obtained was entirely in the hands of the disciple and not due to some Divine Deal cut somewhere in dark and secret chamber or predetermined by the gods of chance!
As teachers, we need to follow the lead of the Master Teacher in letting the hearer determine the extent to which he/she learns truth. The character of the hearer, the desire of the hearer, and the maturity of he hearer should be factors in what they hear, but never should our own biases or prejudices determine who or what part of the truth we reveal or conceal! We can do no less than to speak openly to the world!
1. Why did the officer strike Jesus? Why was this “offensive” to the officer?
2. Was Annas in search of the truth about Jesus’ teachings? Why or why not?
3. Consider the expression, “Let the facts speak for themselves.” Is it consistent with Jesus’ response to the events contained in the focus text? What did Jesus say that might be paraphrased in this way?
4. What should determine the extent to which we reveal truth to others?
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