John 18:19-21

Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.”

John’s story of the last hours of Jesus’ life, as we have noticed at several points already, is strikingly different than that of the other evangelists. Jesus’ attitude and actions during his trials – there will be several – is one of those distinct elements.

The other evangelists regularly portray Jesus as nearly silent in his encounters with his accusers. But not John. Here, Jesus answers forthrightly, even daringly, turning the tables on his questioner and directing them to find their own answers.

John’s Jesus, in short, is rather authoritative, even feisty. You’d never be able to tell from the tenor and tone of his response that he was the one on trial. Rather, it feels far more like he is in control of the whole situation. And that is a key dimension of John’s portrayal of Jesus. He is in charge. From start to finish, there is little question of whether or not this is some tragedy spinning out of control. Rather, Jesus is the primary actor throughout, moving steadfastly toward his destiny with no hesitation whatsoever.

Why this emphasis on a strong Jesus? Perhaps because John’s community was feeling at that moment rather weak. Scholars have suggested that John’s was an orphan community, a group of Jews who had become followers of Jesus but continued for some time in the Synagogue and were eventually thrown out to fend for themselves. And amid this self-doubt and lack of confidence, John wants to offer them the promise that the Jesus who did not falter will see them through their trials as well.

And, apparently, that helped, as we have today the legacy of John’s writing and Jesus’ promises to this early community of believers, a word that still brings hope and courage to us today.

Prayer: Dear God, inspire us with John’s witness as you have inspired countless generations of disciples that we may hold fast to our confession in word and deed. In Jesus’ name, Amen.