John 18:19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” 24 Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. ESV
What is the general theme of the passage?
These priests fear Jesus. They’ve built their system of power and authority on their ability to verify the truth of God; how it’s to be taught and the proper ways to honor it. People are openly responding to what Jesus is teaching; God’s truth alone has the power and authority to the teach people the proper way to respond and honor Him. The priest’s only hope is to expose Jesus and his disciples as dangerous deceivers determined to destroy their honor, and the authority of what they have built.
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Why do you ask me to defend myself? “Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said…I have said nothing in secret. ”
What does it say about people?
People understand the need to respect authority, the problem is choosing which authority matters most. “…one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?”
Is there truth here for me?
How often have I depended on learning the truth of God from someone who’s authority I respect? The answer is a lot, of course. Respect is a good thing but it’s not the only part of the system created by God himself to teach us His truth. These are Jesus’s words from John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” You might be thinking, ‘but those respected people are educated.’ Think a little more about that. Ask yourself where they’re getting the truth you’re putting your trust in? Even respect requires verification. Or you may be thinking ‘what if I don’t get the truth right?’ What makes you think that even the most respected human source always gets it right? The beauty of the system Jesus has put it place is the Holy Spirit teaches you to verify your thinking. He’s the one infallibly right source of truth that promises to confirm OR correct what you’re learning no matter where it’s from as long as you keep checking in for updates.