Day 164: Tyranny and Justice

John 18:18-23:

Now the servants and the officers were standing there, having made a fire of coals, for it was cold. They were warming themselves. Peter was with them, standing and warming himself. The high priest therefore asked Jesus about his disciples, and about his teaching. Jesus answered him, “I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues, and in the temple, where the Jews always meet. I said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them. Behold, these know the things which I said.”

When he had said this, one of the officers standing by slapped Jesus with his hand, saying, “Do you answer the high priest like that?”

Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken evil, testify of the evil; but if well, why do you beat me?”

In John 5:31 we read that Jesus says: “If I testify about myself, my witness is not valid.” This was a well understood thing among the Jews. We know this because in Deuteronomy 17:6 it says: “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he who is to die be put to death; at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.” To question a man directly in court was asking a man to testify about himself which, by itself, could be seen as criminal. Jesus rightly suggested that the high priest ask witnesses instead.

Evidently, good court practices were not something that was common enough for an officer to recognize in this courtroom. By slapping Jesus, the court was suggesting that the leadership was outside of the Law of God. This is tyranny. Just because a man is elected or chosen by God somehow to be a leader, does not give that man the right to change God’s Law. All men, including leaders, must take their place under the law of the Creator.

Just because leadership decides to make a mockery of God and justice, does not mean the leadership will not come under justice in the future. All men will come under the justice of God, but He allows us to make our choice. This high priest was making his choice, and Jesus had encouraged them to change, but they mockingly refused.

Sometimes, when we speak the truth in this world, we are punished. This is one reason why wickedness is so common in the world. It is an evidence that the prince of this world is actively convincing people that lies are the truth. He convinces them so well that they will immediately lash out against those who lovingly speak the truth.

One other thing we can know at this point is that it was cold enough outside for Peter to risk warming himself by the officers. Jesus, was probably left freezing in the cold.