John 18:19-24 The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. Why ask thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said. And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answer thou the high priest so? Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smite thou me? Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest.
‘Asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine’ they questioned Him as to His authority of collecting disciples, forming a different sect, preaching new doctrines and setting Himself up as a reformer. Annas perhaps was seeking something whereby he could legally accuse Him, but he found nothing. All this was at night, which was contrary to the law of the Jews. The Talmud says, “Criminal processes can neither commence nor terminate, but during the course of the day” (Sanhedrin c, iv, s. 1). If a person was condemned the sentence could not be until the next day. No judgment could be executed either on the eve of the sabbath, or the eve of any festival. All these laws were broken in the trial of Christ which was in the night, on the eve of the passover, and the eve of the special sabbath of the feast – on Tuesday. It had been predicted that justice and judgment would be taken away during His trial (Isa. 53:8; Acts 8:33).
‘I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.’ Jesus has spoken openly to all people, in synagogues in the cities and even in the temple at Jerusalem, and has said nothing in secret. If they have not heard Him, they could have asked those who have. They and their spies have watched Him everywhere. Jesus has said nothing contrary to the law and the prophets [the name of the Old Testament]. He has not disturbed the state by rebellion. He asked that they would judge Him righteously according to their laws if He has done something wrong.
‘One of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand’ – this was an outrage against justice, for a prisoner before trial and condemnation were under special protection of the court. This is the fifth definite law of justice and judgment broken before the trial really got underway. They sought for witness against Jesus to put Him to death, this was contrary to their law which required them to begin a trial with those things that would acquit the accused, not with those things that made for his condemnation. In this case, not one thing was sought that would acquit Christ. They were determined to kill Him so they looked for every excuse possible, not realizing they were fulfilling prophecy. Not any two witnesses agreed on any one point of accusation, yet they condemned and killed the only sinless man that ever lived.
‘If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smite thou me?’ – a Christian is bound to bear injuries and injustices without revengeful retaliation; but he is privileged, even by the example of the Lord, to call to question such mistreatment. This does not break the law of Matthew 5:39.
‘Now Annas’ all of this happened in Annas’s presence. John omits the trial before Caiaphas (Matt. 26:57-68).