After Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was first taken to Annas, father-in-law to the High Priest, Caiaphas (See John 18:12-24). He was next sent on to Caiaphas (See John 18:24, Matt 26:57, Mark 14:53, Luke 22:54), then at daybreak, He was led before the council of the elders of the people (See Luke 22:66). His next stop was the court of the Roman governor, Pilate (See Luke 23:1, Matt 27:1, Mark 15:1, John 19:28), and from there, he was paraded in front of Herod (see Luke 23:6) before returning to Pilate’s court.
During His entire trial, Jesus doesn’t appear to be overly verbal, and it is often recorded: “but Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.” (Mark 15:61 NIV2). The few responses that Jesus did give during His trial, however, are poignant. Over the next two weeks, we will be gleaning valuable lessons from these brief responses of Jesus during the various parts of His trial.
Today’s lesson looks at the first stop in Jesus’ trial: The house of Annas, Father-in-law to the High Priest, Caiaphas.
This part of Jesus’ trial is only recorded in the Gospel of John, where we are told that Jesus was questioned by Annas about His disciples and His teaching (See John 18:19). Jesus responded by saying, “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 18:20-21, NKJV).
His response was obviously not well received, for “…one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. ‘Is this the way you answer the high priest?'” (John 18:22)
Jesus’ response to this? “If I said something wrong…testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” (John 18:23)
These are the only two recorded lines that Jesus said at this first stop of His trial, but the lesson we can learn from these two utterances is this: Jesus’ responses were not laden with emotion!
In the heat of the moment, I tend to lose rational control, and my emotions take over; yet instead of emotion, Jesus’ responses were spoken with ultimate insight and wisdom. How did He keep the typical emotional responses in check? Why were His responses so laced with insight and wisdom?
The answer is actually given to us by Jesus Himself, some months earlier: “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me.” (John 7:16). In other words, Jesus never spoke anything that did not come from God, the Author of Wisdom and insight.
But that was Jesus. He was in constant communication with God. I couldn’t do that!
Or can I?
If I truly cannot remain in constant communication with God in the face of such dire circumstances, then why would Jesus have said, “…do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say…” (Luke 12:11-12, NKJV)?
Friends, Jesus’ ability to say only what the Father put in His mouth to say is available for each one of us today. All we have to do is remain open to His Spirit.
Just this week, I was faced with a situation I had no idea how to handle. My friend’s daughter ended her own life. Unfortunately in such circumstances words, are so inadequate, and I had no idea what to say. I began to pray that God would give me the insight and wisdom I needed. God then put it on my mind to take over a pot of homemade soup and some buns. I still had no idea what I would say when I delivered the food, and later, when I went to see the rest of the family at the visitation; but I trusted God to put the right words in my mouth. Anyone surprised that He did?
Friends, this example teaches us that when we don’t have the words to say, our job is not to simply push ahead and say or do the first emotional response that comes to mind. Rather, we must be open to God’s Spirit who has promised to help us, for when we do, we can be assured that our words will be just as laced with insight and wisdom and Jesus’ responses to Annas.
Join us on Saturday for the lessons we can glean from Jesus’ brief responses at the next stop of His trial: “Lessons from Jesus’ Trial,” Part 2: Standing before Caiaphas.
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
(To Access the entire “Lessons From Jesus’ Trial” mini-series, please click here.)