With the season coming upon us where we celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord, I would like to ask each of you to pause for a moment to reflect on the four different trials that Jesus was forced to go through. He was tried first by Annas, then by Caiaphas, then by Pilot, who sent Him to Herod, and then by Pilot again. Besides not being conducted according to the "norm" of the day, they were also wrought with false witnesses and violence. I believe these trials have much they can teach us, and for today, I would like to specifically look at the lessons we can learn from how Jesus responded to conflict.
Let's start off in Annas' home: "the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. "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. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said." (John 18:19-21)
When questioned about His teachings, Jesus calmly reminds them that all of His teachings have been given in public and encourages them to ask those who heard Him speak. He doesn't say, "Yes, I taught that!" or "No, whoever told you that did not understand what I was trying to say." He simply says that those who heard Him can testify to His teachings. In other words, Jesus' teachings stand up for themselves! There is no need to defend them, no need to explain them, no need to deny them. My friends, if what we are teaching is of God, we also have no need to defend, explain, or deny our words! Yet how often do we debate what we've said, wasting time in clarification, interpretation, and sometimes even denial of what we've been impressed to say? Instead, let us put our faith in what the Holy Spirit has instructed us to say, ever believing that it is EXACTLY what is needed for the situation! Let God's Word, spoken through you, stand for itself!
In the house of Caiaphus the High Priest, Jesus was falsely accused of saying that He was able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days. But when Caiaphas questioned Jesus as to whether or not it was true, Jesus did not respond!Let's pick up the story in Matt 26:62: "Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, "Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?" But Jesus remained silent."
Notice that Jesus didn't argue that they hadn't understood His words. He didn't take them back. He didn't even acknowledge whether or not they were, indeed, His words. He simply remained silent. How much trouble, my friends, don't we get ourselves into by constantly trying to defend ourselves, our words, our honor? Wouldn't it be so much simplier to follow Jesus' example, and in the face of false accusation, to remain silent as He did?
Following this, Jesus was taken to Pilate. Again, He is accused falsly, and again, He utters not a word. But then Pilate questioned Him directly: "Are you the king of the Jews?" asked Pilate. "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied." (Mark 15:2)
Why did Jesus respond to Pilate's question and not to the accusations of the false witnesses? Because Pilate's question touched on truth! He was the King of the Jews! And though this is the very thing that infuriated the Jews, Jesus had nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed of. We do not need to be ashamed of the truth, my friends! Yet how often, in the face of confrontation, do we try to "cushion" the truth to save face or to keep ourselves from getting hurt? Remember Paul? He was whipped, stoned, thrown in prision, and finally beheaded because He proclaimed the name of Jesus. Yet he could say: "I am not ashamed of the gospel" (Rom 1:16). Let us all learn this important lesson from Jesus. Let us never be afraid to proclaim our faith, no matter what the Earthly consequences, for we are told: "Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matt 5:12).
Pilot, upon learning that Jesus was from Galilee, sent Him to be tried by Herod, the ruler of that region. Herod was happy to have the opportunity to meet Jesus, for he wanted to see Jesus "perform"! "When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle." (Luke 23:8,90). Herod wanted a show! But he was to be disappointed, for: "Jesus gave him no answer." (Luke 23:8-10)
Again the silent response, but for a different reason this time! Jesus wasn't there to entertain the King Herod! He had far more important things to do. Yet how easily might we have been drawn into Herod's trap? After all that Jesus had gone through, here at last was someone who wasn't simply trying to accuse Him falsely, but instead, wanted to see if He was for real. I'm afraid that my pride might have gotten in my way about then. Oh, I might have rationalized it by saying that perhaps this would win his heart for the Lord. But deep down inside, there would have been an element of pride: "See what the Lord can do through me?" But Jesus completely avoided any pretense of pride by simply remaining silent.
Friends, let us remember these all-important lessons today. Let us remember that what the Holy Spirit prompts us to say needs no further explanation or discussion. It stands on its own. Let us remember that the best way to deal with false accusations and mis-understandings is silence. Let us remember that we don't need to be ashamed of the Lord we serve, and only when His honor is being questioned must we speak up for what is right. And finally, let's not fall into the trap of pride. Instead, let's remember that the power we possess, given to us by the Holy Spirit that resides within, is only to be used to the glory of God!
Dear Lord, may I remember these important lessons! Help me to have the courage to speak out for truth. Help me to not fall into the trap of "defending" what You have prompted me to say, or refuting false accusations. And finally help me to know when to be silent, that Your name, and not my own, may be glorified!