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Jesus & Paul


The following two passages, one from the Gospel of John and the other from the Acts of the Apostles, relate to a somewhat similar incident which happened in the life of Jesus and the life of Paul, the Evangelist.

Gospel of John chapter 18

19 The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine.

20 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.

21 Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.

22 And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so?

23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?

The passage shows how the ‘High Priest’ Annas interrogated Jesus about his doctrine and his disciples and how Jesus was not inclined to provide Annas the details. I feel that Jesus was indifferent to the authority of Annas, however Jesus told Annas: why Annas wanted Jesus to furnish the details whereas Annas could ask the persons who had heard Jesus. Jesus further states that He had not said anything in secret and had openly preached and as such the public would be better witnesses – rather disinterested factual witnesses rather than asking the very person who had been arrayed as an accused before the High Priest – (Annas had been a High Priest earlier), but at that point it has been historically accepted that it was Joseph Caiaphas who was the High Priest. When Jesus answered thus, one of those officers struck Jesus and asked Jesus if that was the proper way of addressing the High Priest.

Jesus, brilliantly answered that rhetorical question implying: no sentence before conviction!

Let us advert to the passage which refers to a similar incident in the life of Paul, who had also been brought before the then High Priest Ananias.

Paul opens, as usual, with his self exculpatory defence, which infuriates the High Priest. In fact Paul opens his defence more as a person who had led a life of good conscience before God. Immediately, the High Priest Ananias directs an officer to strike Paul in his mouth.

Here, it is the High Priest Himself who directed the officer to strike – was it because of the contempt that the High Priest had for a person who, not so long ago, had been obtaining warrants from the same office of the High Priest to arrest and produce followers of Jesus? May be, but no direct evidence is available on that.

Paul immediately reacts and uttered almost impulsively that the High Priest was ‘whited sepulchre’. In fact immediately Paul accuses the High Priest of an inconsistency: that the High Priest who was to judge by the law, was ordering an executive to strike him on his mouth, which was inflicting a punishment without convicting him of an offence.

Paul, when called upon to defend himself, instead of pleading guilty or defending himself against the charges, Paul opens his defence by stating how he was faultless – a certification which is to be given by the High Priest and not by the individual. Read the following passage:

Acts of the Apostles chapter 23

1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

2 And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.

3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?

4 And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest?

5 Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.

Please read verse 5 above. Paul states that he didn’t know that the instructions to smite came from the High Priest and launched on a self reminder as to how one should not speak evil of the rulers! Paul was not to indulge in self certification and it was that usurpation which probably infuriated the High Priest.

Paul, unlike Jesus, did not want the High Priest to rely on third party independent witnesses, but relied on his own assertions to convince the Council, which Paul thought was the Jury. Paul tried to convince the jury (the council members) by his oration and self certification; and in fact when he realised that the council consisted of Pharisees and Sadducees, Paul takes advantage of his Pharisaical past to his advantage.

Jesus, on the other hand, does neither defend Himself nor does He launch on convincing the Sanhedrin! Jesus’ Supreme indifference is born out of the unshakable belief that: When all my hairs are numbered, why bother to answer these wilful mortals! He neither answered the High Priest nor did He get the members converted into a Jury and persuade them of his innocence – He requests the High Priest to call for witnesses, who were contemporaneous to the sermons He preached earlier, and not the wilful gathering there!

This is where God is distinguished from a mere man! Jesus tells Annas to call for contemporaneous witnesses to His teachings, whereas Paul indulges in self justification of his own ‘righteousness’ – the expression of one’s own ego partially alloyed with faith in God!

(Some of my readers have informed me that i am harsh in my assessment of Paul- surely Not. What Paul has done, at that point in time, is incomparable with any other human effort for the spread of the name of Jesus. But like any mortal, he had his failings. Merely because we notice those failings, we are none the better, nor can i ever be presumptuous enough to even entertain a thought that because i critique on Shakespeare’s plays, i could write a better play.)

WHY JESUS IS MY HERO & WOULD HAVE BEEN, EVEN IF I HAD NOT BEEN A CHRISTIAN?


LEAVING ASIDE ALL THE BELIEF IN THE DIVINITY OF JESUS, ASSUMING THAT I WAS NOT A CHRISTIAN, HAD I READ THE BIBLE. I AM INDEED SURE THAT JESUS WOULD STILL HAVE BEEN MY HERO.

THE REASONS FOR MY CONCLUSIONS ARE BASED ON MERE LOGIC & NOTHING MORE.

JESUS HAD A STATED AGENDA. A stated agenda is the agenda that which is declared by the individual as the path that he is going to follow. It is a SELF DECLARATION. A declaration of the path, no matter what the hurdles are. Jesus declared that HE WAS THE SON OF GOD and the MESSIAH, which according to the Jewish tradition was to happen. The CHRIST (the Anointed ONE) had to be born. His foster father was from Nazareth and therefore Jesus was thought to be from the region of Galilee, and the Jewish holy books do not predict the advent of the Messiah from that region. He was born into the family headed by a carpenter. Consequently, NO FAMILY SUPPORT OR HELP. It is from this background that JESUS came.

His STATED AGENDA was that He had come down to do the will of the FATHER. That “will” was not DECLARED and consequently none could defy Jesus’ stated purpose. There had been many who claimed to be the Christ before and most of their names have fallen by the wayside in history. But why did he succeed? Many were crucified on the cross for both Blasphemy and Treason, yet they did not leave anything that lasted beyond a few years. But Jesus’ name and His teachings have lasted and is relevant even today. BUT WHY?

JESUS STATED HIS AGENDA AND STUCK TO IT, TILL THE VERY END.

Jesus took on the two most powerful INSTITUTIONS of his time. The ROMAN EMPIRE and THE JEWISH RELIGION. The persons who represented their interest were PONTIUS PILATE and JOSEPH CAIAPHAS respectively. The Governor Pilate had the power to destroy the body and the High Priest Caiaphas could declare that Jesus’ teachings or his life was not in conformity with the Jewish religious texts and therefore could bring accusations of blasphemy and thereby have him executed. So Jesus as a single individual had to withstand the might of the Roman Empire and the Religious leaders of his own times.

It is easy to fight battles get hold of a small kingdom consolidate one’s power and establish one’s rule and then slowly grow, but Jesus had nothing, absolutely nothing. HE HAD SPIRITUAL POWER. The power that was be tested to the very last! He said to his disciples, ” DO U THINK THAT IF I ASKED MY FATHER, HE WOULDN’T SEND ME A LEGION OF ANGELS?” and yet he wouldn’t ask. He believed that he had come to TAKE AWAY THE SINS OF THE WORLD and therefore HAD TO SACRIFICE HIS SELF AND NOT THWART HIS FATHER’S WILL.

From an outsider’s point of view, it might have looked like a tall claim. Yes it was tall, but when he was taken to Pilate he defied him by saying IF THE POWER WERE NOT TO HAVE BEEN GIVEN FROM ABOVE, U CANNOT HAVE THE POWER THAT U CLAIM U HAVE! That was truly glorifying the FATHER, that except the power be given by the Father u, Pilate, have no power over me. Needs SPIRITUAL COURAGE to say that to the man who had the power. Pilate understands that and realizes the limitations of his TEMPORAL power and washes his hands off the whole issue. But Caiaphas and his religious group cannot. JESUS was making them irrelevant with his teachings, sermons and thru his disciples. They bring in the religious laws and interpret them according to their understanding or convenience. They threaten, they insult, they disparage Him, but JESUS stands SUPREME AND ALONE, despite all the physical limitations! His stated agenda is intact. Will of the father is being done.

Jesus says that he had the power to summon a legion of angels. Whether it was a bluff or not depends on the call. In a game of poker if one is holding a royal flush and the other is holding a Straight flush in the same suit, and if the guy holding a royal flush DECLARES that he has a Royal flush and the other guy has no Ace or King to the suit and the community cards has the Queen , Jack and Ten of the suit declared by the Royal Flush holder on the board and if the other guy has the 9 and 8 of the same suit as pocket cards: HE HAS AN OPTION TO CALL, RAISE or FOLD. Assuming that the Royal flush claimant was Jesus in the flesh, and the  Straight flush holder was Joseph Caiaphas, Caiaphas wanted JESUS to CALL and NOT TO RAISE. Jesus RAISED THE SPIRITUAL BAR. He threw away the Mosaic laws of retribution and brought in COMPASSION and SACRIFICE.

Caiaphas did not have the money to match JESUS’ bid. A spiritual bid, way beyond Caiaphas’ means. Caiphas pulled out his revolver and shot HIM dead.

Whom do i support? The killer who did not WANT TO play the game, HE DID NOT HAVE THE ACE AND KING HIMSELF BUT WAS NOT SURE IF JESUS HELD IT AT ALL!

The killer  was afraid of losing MONEY( his position and power as the High Priest)! CAIPHAS BLINKED! Read the following verses from Gospel of John Ch.18:-

19: The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine.
20: 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.
21: Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.
22: And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so?
23: Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?
24: Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest.

THE PERSON WHO HELD HIS OWN AMONGST ALL ODDS AND SACRIFICED AND SET AN EXAMPLE THAT ALL EXISTING POWERS WANT STATUS QUO TO CONTINUE, BUT YOU CAN BRING A CHANGE, IF U STICK TO THE FORMULA, IF YOUR FORMULA IS RIGHT!

HOW CAN I BE WITHOUT FOLLOWING A MAN WHO STOOD HIS GROUND ON HIS CONVICTIONS!(His convictions have become the creed of many fathers of Nations including Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and many others who have drawn inspiration therefrom in their little battles of life with the oppressive authorities!)

(***this blog is not for Christians, but a line of argument for the skeptically  logical)

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