The commander wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews. So the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the members of the Sanhedrin to assemble. Then he brought Paul and had him stand before them. Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!” (Acts 22:30-23:3)
The commander doesn’t want to get in trouble for punishing a Roman citizen without cause, so he hands Paul over to the Sanhedrin, the Jewish court.
Jesus had always addressed the Sanhedrin with respect by saying, “Rulers of Israel, and elders of the people.” But Paul pulls them off their thrones and down to his level by addressing them as brothers. They do not consider themselves equal with Paul, so the High Priest orders that Paul be struck in the face.
Paul shows his humanity by responding in anger, calling the High Priest a whitewashed wall. In other words, he tells him that he’s a hypocrite who hides his evil heart. He claims to uphold the law, but it is against the law to strike a Jew in the face.
When Jesus was questioned by the High Priest in John 18, he thought that Jesus gave a disrespectful answer and, similarly, an official slapped Him. Jesus responded correctly with a question to make him think about his actions. “But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” (vs. 23b)
I can imagine anger flared up inside Jesus after being punched in the mouth, so he understood why Paul called the High Priest a name instead of turning the other cheek. Being the Son of God, He could control His temper but knows that most humans cannot.
Because Jesus was human and encountered many of life’s problems, even torture, he understands our problems and our reactions to them. So He is the perfect One to take our problems to.
Father, I praise you for sending Your Son to earth as a human who experienced the same problems we do. Thank you for allowing Him to understand that we are human and cannot always react flawlessly and His grace that took our wrongdoings and the punishment for them so we can be righteous in Your eyes. Help me see myself as pure because You do. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.