I remember early on in my acting studies in college learning a lesson about the strength of stillness. I was doing some scene work where the character gets angry, and in an attempt to be dramatic I went crazy on the stage. My prof revealed to me the strength of playing the anger not so violently but under total control. Calmness is actually more strong than lots of movement and volume. It’s what makes Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter so terrifying. It pierces you. I don’t know if Jesus is angry here, and he is certainly no Hannibal Lecter, but his calmness in this scene reminds of that kind of strength and power. We have just come from Gethsemane, where Jesus reveals his weakness. He says, “I am deeply grieved, even to death”. He prays, “let this cup pass from me”. The weakness of his humanity comes through in Gethsemane. But it is also there that he submits and walks towards his accusers. Now he stands before them and the image that comes to my mind is of a confident, strong, fully in control man of God. It is piercing. In contrast we have Caiaphas tearing his garments in rage, and I believe this rage is a response to the power in Christ’s steady, calm manner. The calm strength of the Christ exposes the enraged weakness of Caiaphas.
The strength Jesus portrays here is very real, but not of him. It comes through laying himself down before his Creator, through being authentic about his fear and weakness, and through letting the grace of God, that is the activity of the Spirit of God in his life, come upon him. Jesus’ ability to face his accusers and ultimately embrace the cross with the strength and power that he does is perhaps the most full manifestation of God’s grace the world has ever seen. It is the power and activity of God in Jesus’ life that enables him to overcome his weakness and move towards God’s call for him. And this is true about you and I as well. It is by God’s grace that we can live and move through the hard stuff of life. By ourselves, we cannot do it. But God’s power and strength is an ever flowing stream for us. What are you facing these days? Don’t worry. Don’t panic. Find your “Gethsemane”, and in it let the grace of God envelop you, and through it, know that you can stand calm and strong in the face of your accusers.