22 Having said this one of the temple servants, who was standing by, slapped Jesus across the face, saying: “Is this the way you answer the high priest?”
23 Jesus answered him: “If I have spoken badly, give testimony about the badness; but if I have spoken good, why do you strike Me?”
Things began to turn more ugly as Annas continued to question Jesus, as one of the temple slaves hit Jesus across the face. The word for ‘hit’ means to slap with an open hand, or to hit someone with a rod. A slap on the face is the generally accepted translation.
It is translated this way in Acts 23.2:
Instantly Ananias the high priest commanded those close to Paul to slap him on the mouth – (NLT).It is clear that a slap across the face was a customary punishment for disrespecting the high priest.
The temple servants’ action could have been the signal for others to join in, but they did not. The temple servant thought that Jesus was showing disrespect for Annas. He probably believed that Jesus was showing disregard for a man of the status that Annas held within the religious community and within the nation.
He was probably thinking that he was coming to the aid and defence of Annas.
It is certain that the temple servant did not recognize the power and authority of Jesus. He was more concerned with displaying his loyalty to Annas.
Loyalty and respect are good traits and are to be commended. However, there are times when it is misplaced, as was the case with this temple servant.
In order for our parliamentary system to work the members of each party are expected to show their loyalty to the party by supporting the way in which that party votes. It is called ‘toeing the party line’. In certain cases, any member who fails to vote in line with their party is disciplined by the party, because of their lack of loyalty.
Their disloyalty is seen as a ‘slap in the face’, which is exactly what this temple servant did to Jesus. His loyalty to the high priest was displaced.
We have to be careful as to whom we give our loyalty, especially since we are in the world, and we live within a society that has, by and large turned against God.
Remaining loyal to friends and family may conflict with our loyalty to Jesus. In such times we must pray for the strength and courage to reject loyalty to the world and to be steadfast in our loyalty to Jesus.