June 9, 2007

The Humility of Openness

Both Jesus and the Apostle Paul went on trial.
Both defendants were disciplined before the high priest.

It's interesting to compare the two incidents:

John 18: Jesus on Trial
The high priest then questioned Jesus about His disciples, and about His teaching.

Jesus answered him, "I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together;

"and I spoke nothing in secret.

"Why do you question Me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them; they know what I said."

When He had said this, one of the officers standing nearby struck Jesus, saying, "Is that the way You answer the high priest?"

Jesus answered him, "If I have spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me?"

Acts 23: Paul on Trial
Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, "Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day."

The high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth.

Then Paul said to him, "God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?"

But the bystanders said, "Do you revile God's high priest?"

And Paul said, "I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, 'You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.'"

Observations:
Jesus answered openly, asked "Why the trial?"
Paul answered with a verdict before the trial.

Jesus deferred to witnesses.
Paul deferred to his conscience.

Jesus was struck.
Paul was ordered struck.

Jesus turned to witnesses.
Paul turned to the Law.

Jesus answered humbly and asked why.
Paul answered proudly and was humbled.

Interpretations:
Jesus was focused on others--on outwardly being open.
Paul was focused on himself--on inwardly being right.

Witnesses are to be preferred over your conscience.
Witnesses are to be preferred over laws.

Humility does not need to "be right."
Being right can lead to being wrong.

It is not inherently wrong to question authority.
It is inherently wrong to revile authority.

Applications:
Authorities should also follow laws.
Authorities do not always follow laws.

Following the law isn't necessarily being open.
Laws show us our lack of openness, our secrecy.

Openness is about where people come together.
The Law is about where people are prohibited.

Laws do not create openness.
Laws can drive sin into deeper secrecy.

Disclosure laws attempt to impose openness.
Disclosure laws tend to create new secrecy.

Secrecy entices one to temptation.
Openness helps one avoid temptation.

Openness comes from no secrecy.
No secrecy comes from witnesses.

Witnesses must ask questions.
The law never asks questions.

Questions can be an indication of love.
Questions must be asked in humility.

The Law is about correcting people.
Questions are about getting people to correct themselves.

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