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Are you the Son of God?  Luke 22.63-71

Jesus finished his agonizing prayer, and returned to his men, just in time for his friend, Judas, to step forward and kiss him . . . ensuring those who had come to arrest him, that he was indeed ‘The Man’.  

The story continues--

“The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking him and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, "Prophesy! Who hit you?" And they said many other insulting things to him. At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both chief priests and teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. "If you are the Christ," they said, "tell us." Jesus answered, "If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God." They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?" He replied, "You are right in saying I am." Then they said, "Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips." Luke 22.63-71

Thus begins the "official" trial of Jesus of Nazareth in the high-ceilinged Hall of Justice, at the east end of the temple.  The trials of Jesus can be divided into religious and civil; effectively, this is the third religious trial.

The chief priests and teachers of the law already know what they are going to do with Jesus, so this meeting is merely a formality, to satisfy the technicality that such trials must take place in daylight.  Once Jesus answers their question, "Are you then the Son of God?" with "You are right in saying I am," they twist it to sound like some kind of a political threat to Rome--a form of sedition; and it is all the council needs to send him to the Roman governor, Pilate.  The council could condemn Jesus to death on the basis of blasphemy, but they cannot carry out the death penalty under Roman law.  The Romans have to find Jesus guilty in order for him to be put to death--and that is the goal of the Jewish leaders.  

‘By the end of the third trial, the religious leaders have what they feel they need.  Jesus claims to be the Christ, who Jews widely regard as their hope of expelling their Roman oppressors.  Certainly, the empire will want to rid itself of a potential revolutionary; and if Jesus is executed, the people will reject him as another false Messiah.’++  (Do you see the complexity of this?)

Just who are these men on the Sanhedrin--the ruling council of the Jews--set upon the death of Jesus Christ?  They are leading scholars who know the 613 points of the Law well, along with the supporting Scripture.  They generally live morally-upright lives, are schooled in the sciences and speak the languages of the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians.  Here's the interesting thing--their oaths bind them to interpret the law in favor of the prisoner whenever they can. There is no appeal to their verdicts, so they make every effort to protect those on trial. Except for now . . . what happens with Jesus?  Well, they all have an axe to grind because Jesus has publicly criticized their religiosity and hypocrisy.  They tightly cling to their political power and public influence, and he is a threat to both.

High priest, Caiaphas, clad in his lavish garb, leads this trial, with great pomp. Just what has Jesus done that was so bad?  They are accusing him of blasphemy, claiming to be God.  In truth, Jesus accused himself by answering Caiaphas' question, "You are right in saying I am."  These men knew the significance of Jesus' ‘I AM statement; in this way, Jesus identified himself with God when he used this Old Testament title for God.

The irony is this: the only reason Jesus is standing in front of them is because he is exactly who they are 'trying' him for being!  Theologians, philosophers, scientists and college professors regularly set out to debate the claims of Jesus Christ in our present day . . . the very thing that was at issue and for which they brought him to trial all those years ago.  History, science, (including archaeology), fulfilled prophecies and changed lives all serve to shore up the validity of Jesus’ claims to being the Son of God.  

Whether we debate the matter aloud, or discuss it with others, or ignore it … sooner or later, every individual must decide what he will do with this same Jesus--oh, not in the flesh anymore, but seated at the right hand of God, interceding for his children, and coming again!  Because ' the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord'    Philippians 2.10

So, the lights go down on the set, with Jesus standing before his accusers, who believe they have 'enough' on him to hand him over to the Romans  . . .

"O, Jesus, I am so sorry for your fate.  I am sorry for the lonely agony you were enduring . . . sorry for what history has shown us will come next for You.  Amen"


++from Jesus: The Greatest Life of All, Charles Swindoll

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