The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
In John 18:19-24 Jesus has been brought to Annas. He is the high priest recognized by the Levitical law. Though he would not be recognized by the Romans as the authority, he is recognized as such by the Jews of Jerusalem. Annas’ line of questioning is perfectly normal. He asks Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. These are perfectly legitimate areas of inquiry. However, we notice that Jesus questions this. In verses 20-21 he says that all his teaching and activities have been public. There’s no reason even to ask Jesus because Annas could ask Jesus’ hearers what he had been saying.
This response, of course, is not what we would normally consider respectful. One of the assistants struck Jesus. He should not have spoken that way to the high priest. Jesus’ response is entirely unexpected. Jesus asks to be told what falsehood he spoke. If he was speaking truthfully he should not have been hit.This is not the kind of response we would ever expect in an interview with the high priest. What does it indicate? It indicates that Jesus himself insists on acting as the Messiah. He is greater than the high priest, because he is the perfect prophet, priest, and king. He has nothing to hide.
I can imagine Annas being slightly uncertain about what to do with such a character. He sends him on to the high priest who is recognized by the government. Annas himself doesn’t state an opinion. Jesus is certainly different from any other person he would ever interrogate. We can all stand to ask ourselves what we do with Jesus’ claims. He has acted publicly. He certainly acts like the Messiah. Do we refer him on and hope he goes away? Or do we recognize him as who he claims to be?
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