The temple guards had put Jesus under arrest and taken him to the house of the high priest. When questioned about his teaching, he reminded Annas that his teaching had always been done in the open, so why was he being questioned; they already knew what he taught. At that, a guard slapped Jesus in the face, asking how he dared speak like that to the high priest. Very calmly Jesus asked for evidence that his teaching was not true, and added, “If not, why did you strike me?” (John 18:23). Jesus was then taken to Caiaphas where the high priest and all his cohorts kept trying to trap him into saying something they could use to condemn him. To all their accusations Jesus simply “said nothing” (Matt. 26:73). He did not defend himself.
Once again we see the serenity with which Jesus responded to his accusers. To Annas he provided a simple answer; to Caiaphas and the clerics who had gathered (unlawfully, since it was night) he remained silent. He did not defend himself. In Jesus’ reaction to all of this we see two remarkable characteristics: composure under stress and the willingness not to defend oneself. Both of these run counter to human nature. In times of distress it is especially difficult to maintain the emotional balance that keeps us from doing or saying the wrong thing. When accused, especially if the accusation is false, we rush to our own defense. It is what we do because of who we are. We are made that way. But apparently Jesus had no desire to prove himself before others, especially the ruling class, which at that time was the religious leadership. I have a feeling that in most cases one’s reputation is enhanced by saying nothing. At least it deprives others of the pleasure of displaying their superiority by countering what you said.
It seems to me that both of these qualities are extremely important in the life of the believer. They display a high level of spiritual maturity. It may not be our lot to face false arrest with the potential of death but we do face difficult situations with significant consequences. Certainly a steady hand and a careful tongue will serve not only our own personal interests but the reputation of God as one in whom we may trust. If God is in charge – and we believe he is – then there is nothing in our life in which he is not in some way involved. A personal set back, say . . . sickness or financial loss, need not disturb our trust in him as the One who is always there to help. He didn’t cause it but he can and will, if we let Him, use it for our ultimate benefit.
So, may God grant to each of us the serenity of genuine faith. May our days be spent with a calmness that overcomes our inborn desire to defend ourselves.