The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. (Jn 18:19-24)
“I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in Synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret.” This is the biggest problem with the so called gnostic sects that are all about secret knowledge. Today that sort of mentality lives on with the Masons and lodges more than in half baked neognosticism. John is already battling against the gnostics. Irenaeus will later bring up the same apologetic as Gnosticism spreads throughout he Roman empire. There is nothing secret about Christianity. What we believe and teach is spoken of openly, and open for discussion with all who are curious. We might start with easier teachings, the milk, and work our way to more mature teachings, the meat, but the meat itself is always public also. Jesus speaks openly to the world and so do we. We do this because Jesus died for the world. He is their savior whether or not the world wants to recognize it. He is their Lord and he has concern for them. The salvation isn’t incremental, it isn’t about learning more and more and attaining ever higher statuses in the church. Those who delve into the mysteries of the faith for better understanding, do so out of love, love for Christ and God, and love for their neighbors whom can be helped with such teaching. But we aren’t saved by our knowledge anymore than we are saved by good works. We are saved by the death and resurrection of Christ. This is true for children, for those with down syndrome and learning disabilities, for the mentally deranged, for professors and drs of the church. Even as Christ’s death and resurrection applies for the salvation of both those who do good works in his name, and those who receive good works in his name, so it is true of those who teach Jesus Christ and him crucified, and those who receive this teaching. And the entire teaching is summed up in “Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Jesus won’t answer the chief priest. What he has taught he has taught. It isn’t that he has never spoken privately with his disciples, but what he taught them is what he taught to all who would hear him. If they were going to try him they would try him based on his public teaching. He has nothing else for them. A guard found his answer to be flippant and disrespectful. He strikes Jesus. This is often the case, for Christians. But Jesus does not retaliate. He merely challenges to guard to tell him what he said that was wrong.