“The high priest questioned Jesus about His disciples and about His teaching. “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus answered him. “I have always taught in the synagogue and in the temple complex, where all the Jews congregate, and I haven’t spoken anything in secret. Why do you question Me? Question those who heard what I told them. Look, they know what I said.” When He had said these things, one of the temple police standing by slapped Jesus, saying, “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” “If I have spoken wrongly,” Jesus answered him, “give evidence about the wrong; but if rightly, why do you hit Me?”” (John 18:19–23, HCSB)
There is an interesting interaction between Annas and Jesus on the night of his trial which raises a question for us. Why did Jesus not apologize when he spoke to Annas in such a direct manner? The Jewish guard nearby seemed to think that he did need to apologize because he slaps him (and no doubt it was not a gentle slap). Jesus does not back down at all, not in the least. Why not?
Two commentators weigh in with important information here. Gerald Borchert, thinking through the issues writes:
“Accordingly, from my legal perspective in reading this segment of the story, it seems quite evident that John was seeking to make a point that Jesus stood completely within his rights and also that people of power like Annas (and later Pilate) hardly unnerved Jesus. Annas’s goal was obviously one of questioning Jesus, and in so doing he attempted to reduce Jesus to a whimpering defendant. But that procedure did not work with Jesus. In John it is clear that Jesus stands serene throughout the entire story as the legitimate Messiah or King of Israel (cf. 1:41, 49; 18:33–37).”
Jesus both understood and claimed his rights as a Jew and was not in the least intimidated by Annas and his questioning, even though he stood bound before him.
Don Carson notes:
“Jesus did not call anyone names; he had nothing for which to apologize. Nor was he refusing to ‘turn the other cheek’: that ought to be clear from the cross itself. But turning the other cheek without bearing witness to the truth is not the fruit of moral resolution but the terrorized cowardice of the wimp.”
It’s clear from this passage as well as others and finally clear from the cross itself, that Jesus was in no sense a wimp or a pushover. He was the Messiah, the true king of Israel. He acted like he was, whether he was interacting with the poor, or the rich and powerful.