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John 18:19-24, NIV19 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 struck 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, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest.
February 10, 2012Jesus wasn't careful to tell the high priest what he wanted to hear. Instead he told the truth as he perceived it. He answered the questions in his own way, not the way Annas wanted them answered. Notice Jesus was questioned about his disciples. They were not out of danger just because they had not been taken into custody with him.
Jesus shifted the focus away from the disciples and onto the crowds who had followed him around. Annas can't arrest all who gathered as Jesus taught them. Was Jesus implying that if his words were dangerous, his teaching could not be stopped by eliminating him and his few disciples? Too many others had also been influenced. The "feathers" were out of the bag and would not be put back in.
Annas was not about to make this matter a war on all Jews. He knew who the culprit was and so he sent Jesus to Caiaphas. But before he could do that, one of the officials tried to teach Jesus a lesson on respect. A smack across the face should do it. Isn't it amazing how many times we try to correct someone else, only to use tactics which are worse than what the person did whom we are trying to correct!
Jesus: If I said something wrong, tell me what it is; if I told the truth, why did you slap me? Truth has nothing to do with many of our reactions. If we don't like what someone says or believes, attack them--verbally or physically. Things haven't changed over the centuries.
I often wondered how many of our lies occur because if we told the truth we would suffer for it. I always tried to live by this rule with my children--if/when you tell me the truth, you will not be punished. Truth is more important than punishment, and probably more instructive. If truth is what we want from our children, then we must let the truth be told without fear of retribution.
John 18:25-27, NIV25 As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, "You are not one of his disciples, are you?" He denied it, saying, "I am not."
26 One of the high priest's servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, "Didn't I see you with him in the olive grove?" 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.
February 11, 2012Back to the sideline now where Peter is trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. He had already told the attendant at the door that he had no connection to Jesus. But that answer didn't stop the inquisition. The issue surfaced again and again.
Peter had just observed in the olive garden what happened to Jesus when he told the truth. He was arrested. And what good is being arrested going to do for anything. So Peter did what most people would do in a similar situation. He lied to save his neck, or rather to save his place of safety from which he could watch what was happening to his beloved Master.
In the olive garden, Peter had behaved impulsively with a sword. In the courtyard, he shrank under the weight of threatening stares. He had time to think. Time to be afraid of what might happen, time to serve the instinct of self-preservation.
The truth about lies is that when you tell one, you have to tell another to cover for the first one you told. Pretty soon you are on a wagon going downhill and heading for a crash.
Had the disciples banded together and stayed by Jesus' side, would it have made any difference? To Jesus? To his accusers? To the ending of this story? Probably not. Jesus appears to be standing alone, yet the Father is with him.
The rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the words Jesus had spoken earlier in the evening. Three denials, and then the crowing of the rooster. All the bluster, all the boasts and desires of Peter to be faithful to Jesus to the end, erupted like a volcano and crashed over his being. Bold and outspoken Peter melted out of sight.
Peter will be forever known as the disciple who denied his Lord. Which is unfortunate because his story is not over yet. He will rise again--forgiven and filled with God's spirit.
John 18:28, NIV28 Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover.
February 11, 2012There are so many ironies to this story. Here is the religious leadership in the holy city of Jerusalem, putting Jesus on trial, and then being concerned about not being pure enough to participate in the annual Passover observance. They thought they were doing God's work by eliminating Jesus from the earth, yet had scruples about the palace of the Roman governor. They were "clean" in killing their enemy, and made "unclean" by entering the home of a Gentile.
Their hatred for Jesus was viral. They told lies about him, had been planning his death for years, and paid people to give false testimony concerning Jesus. They could kill Jesus with one hand and eat the Passover lamb with the other hand. But they couldn't go inside Pilate's headquarters because that was against their religion!
But lest anyone feel superior, take a look around and then inside. Each of us needs to look into our own heart. Has anything changed over the centuries!