“But when the charges were made against him by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer.”
“And the chief priests brought many charges against him.”
We have already seen Jesus’ using silence when he is confronted with these false charges. Note that the word here is kathgore/w (kategoreo), which is normally used in a legal context. These charges being lifted against Jesus are not meant as broad accusations, but they are given in a legal context — in this case, to try and have Jesus charged with a capitol offense. Much of Jesus’ silence, then should be seen as an appeal to Jewish law that no one may be put to death on the evidence of a single witness, but that two or three credible witnesses must be present to corroborate the accusations (Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6-7; 19:5). And we have already seen that these false witnesses cannot seem to get their stories right. Jesus need not dignify their charges with a reply because there is no legal charge being brought.
As we see this, though, may we remember to look carefully at how we raise objections to those in our midst. How often, on the basis of one “gossipy” witness, we develop an opinion of someone else’s character — an impression that is often very difficult to undo. How often, on the basis of speculation, we jump to conclusions about who did this or that. How often, on the basis of a label, whether political, denominational, or otherwise, we make wrong assumptions about others. How often we are just as guilty of false accusations as these chief priests and officials are — and how often, when those first impressions are proven wrong, we fail to humble ourselves and apologize. May we seek to make amends with those who have remained silent at our false accusations.