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As day was breaking on Thursday morning of Passion week Jesus was hastened to a meeting of the ruling body of the Jews by Annas and Caiaphas.  A speedy show-trial was necessary to satisfy their punctilious devotion to the law, and to fill up the full measure of their hypocrisy in condemning Jesus on trumped up charges with a verdict that had already been decided.  Time was short since their celebration of the Passover began that evening, with the required Sabbath for the first day of Unleavened Bread on Friday, followed by the seventh day Sabbath on Saturday.  News of Jesus’ arrest would spread fast.  And unless He was disposed of quickly it would foment unrest, especially during two days of idle time that would allow the injustice to fester, while the heightened religious sentiments would further incite people to protest.  Because they also needed to present their case to Pilate first thing that morning, the trial was short and to the point that had already been decided upon during the night following Jesus’ arrest.  Caiaphas and his inner circle had earlier charged Him under oath to tell them if He was the Christ, the Son of God, which He could not deny, but which they, blinded by their unbelief and worldly religion, could not accept.  Hence, now at the formal trial and with no time to waste they get right to the point: “If you are the Christ, tell us” (Luk 22:67).  But it was pointless for Him to tell them He was the Christ, because they couldn’t accept the sort of Messiah He was, and would not answer His question about whose son is the Christ so as to engage Him about the true nature of the Messiah as the Son of God.

Recall that the Son of Man was Jesus’ favorite way to refer to Himself because of its potential Messianic connotations but without all the mistaken connotations of the sort of Messiah the people were expecting.  See also Dan 7:13-14 and recall His statement to Caiaphas in Mat 26:64 during his earlier interrogation that they would see Him coming on the clouds of heaven, which was a direct reference to this passage that He also connected there to Psa 110:1, and which He has now also declared here at His formal trial before the Sanhedrin; see Luk 22:69.  What then would the Council have clearly understood from this declaration, and what question did they then ask in Luk 22:70?  How did Jesus answer that question?  See Luk 22:70 and notice that Jesus’ literal response was not as direct as the NAS translates it, but put it back on them: “You say that I am”.  Although His answer was meant to communicate yes, and was clearly understood as such (Luk 22:71), in what way did it put the onus of justice back on His accusers, so there could be no doubt that they themselves were guilty of condemning Him to death for being exactly who He was?  What does this teach us about there actually being two trials in every judicial proceeding, one for the accused, and one for the accusers, so if the accusers act unjustly, they are judging themselves guilty in an even higher court?  How does this help us to understand the way that Christ’s followers judge the world in righteousness?  Cf. Mat 19:28, 1Co 6:2-3.  What encouragement should such an understanding give us when faced with the injustices in this world?

In what way did Jesus’ answer also leave completely open a different sense from the one they were condemning Him that He was in fact the Christ, the Son of God?  In what sense were they condemning Jesus for His claim to be the Son of God?  See Joh 10:33, and consider that the Jews at that time had no comprehension of our present understanding of the Trinity, which took several hundred years to formulate, so that even the first Christians could not have fully understood the true sense in which Jesus was the Son of God.  Notice especially that apart from Caiaphas’ adjuration in Mat 26:63, the Sanhedrin’s question here in Luk 22:70, Peter’s great confession in Mat 16:16, and the declaration of who He was by demons in Mar 3:11 and Luk 4:41, every other occurrence of “the Son of God” in the Synoptic gospels (which were written first) is actually anarthrous, lacking the definite article, corresponding to the general lack of understanding of Jesus as the Son of God; see Mat 4:3,6, 14:33, 27:40,43,54, Mar 1:1, 15:39, Luk 1:35, 4:3,9.  Only later was the apostle John able to more fully understand and emphasize in His gospel the true nature of Jesus as the only begotten Son of God, distinct and exalted above all other sons of God.  Notice that in Joh 10:36 and 19:7 the phrase is also anarthrous; contrast these with every other occurrence in John and his epistles where the article is included; see Joh 3:18, 5:25, 11:4, 20:31, 1Jo 3:8, 4:15, 5:5,10,12,13,20.  Notice especially the three great confessions about Christ, similar to Peter’s that John reports in Joh 1:34,49, 11:27, as well as Paul’s confession after conversion in Act 9:20, all with the article.  Consider also John’s use of the term “only begotten” to distinguish Jesus’ Sonship of the Father from others who might also in a different sense be called sons of God; see Joh 1:14,18, 3:16,18, 1Jo 4:9 and contrast Mat 5:9, Luk 3:38, 20:36, Rom 8:14, 19, Gal 3:26.  As people were trying to sort out who exactly Jesus was, even during His ministry upon the earth (cf. Mat 16:13-16), why was it completely natural for them to think of Him more in this latter, super-human sense than the former, divine sense?  See again Joh 19:7 where they used the anarthrous term to accuse Jesus before Pilate as an extraordinary human he should fear would stir up revolt against the Romans, in contrast to the articular form that they used here at His trial to convict Him of blasphemy because of its more divine connotations.  So again, what is the great irony that because they would not accept Him as their Messiah, they accused Him of being the Son of God, which they absolutely did not believe, in order to convict Him of blasphemy and have Him put to death, and yet, He was in fact both the Messiah and the Son of God, accomplishing God’s great salvation to deliver His people, as testified to by their own lips!  Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Rom 11:33).

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