Luke 22:66-71


The Son of Man Rejected by the Jewish Leaders

Luke 22:63-65  -  Jesus Before the Council

66 When day broke,
the senior men of the people, the high priests and the scribes were convened, and they brought him before their Sanhedrin.

Their council, the Sanhedrin, was composed, as Luke indicated, of chief priests, senior men and scribes. In full session there would have been over three hundred members. This assembly may well not have been a full session, indeed small enough for the group of determined leaders to ensure that their opinions were carried without significant dissent.

67 They said to him, “If you are the Christ, tell us!”
But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe it.
68 And If I were to ask you, you would not reply.

During his public life, Jesus had not directed attention to his own personal identity, other than at one stage asking the disciples who they, and people generally, thought he was. When unclean spirits had shouted out his identity, he had moved immediately to silence them. By entering Jerusalem on the back of a colt, he had symbolically fine-tuned the crowd’s acclamation of him as king, coming in the name of the Lord. What had been foremost always in the mind of Jesus was to preach not himself but the Kingdom of God.

The crowd’s acclamation of him as Christ/Messiah/king, however, did give the leaders ground for their question. Where did Jesus stand on the issue?

Jesus did not bother to answer the assembly’s question whether he was Christ/Messiah. They were not interested in uncovering the truth. And when he had questioned them in the temple about John’s authority a few days earlier, they had refused to answer him. What was the point in discussing further!

69 Yet from this moment,
the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God!”

However, Jesus did immediately claim that definitive judgment was about to happen, as the Son of Man, foretold by Daniel, received kingship and power from God. 

Jesus had taught his disciples: If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, not weakly doing nothing, but courageously highlighting in a non-violent way the violence of the other. To acquiesce would have meant that Jesus colluded in the council’s unjustified attempts to dominate him. Jesus chose instead to respond to their challenge. His response flowed directly from his inner freedom, absence of fear and unwillingness to be browbeaten by authoritarian figures, themselves captive to the “sin of the world”.

70 They all said, “Are you therefore the Son of God?”
He said, “You are ones who say I am.”
71 They then said, “What further testimony do we need?
You have heard it yourselves from his own mouth!”

Jesus had not explicitly identified himself as the Son of Man. However, he was not questioned further on that issue. Instead they asked him: Are you, therefore, the Son of God?

During his public life, unclean spirits had called Jesus Son of God, or Son of the Most High. The question now, however, seemed to come from nowhere. Surprisingly, to be called Son of God in the Jewish tradition was hardly an indictable offence. In the literature it referred simply to a holy man, someone especially close to God. Luke had used it earlier of Adam [3:38]. It had no strict theological meaning, and was certainly not a statement of Trinitarian theology.

The meaning was more complicated in the pagan world of Luke’s community. In claiming Augustus as son of God, the Roman world sought to confer divine attributes on him; but they had no problems with multiple gods, and their concept of god was radically different from how Jews thought. 

Jesus’ answer to their question was ambiguous. The question and the title were theirs. Jesus remained non-committal. It seems, however, that the assembly took his answer as affirmative and, for their purposes, they were satisfied.

It is difficult to work out what Luke was aiming to do by his description of the Jewish trial. He deliberately departed from much of the content outlined by Mark. The assembly recorded no official verdict or even formal charge. Luke seemed to have been deliberately brief, going through the motions, as it were, without seeking to indicate whether the Jewish court formally heard Jesus’ case or convicted him of anything. Did he seek to show the procedure as totally out of order and illegitimate? Or was he simply not very interested in the proceedings of the Jewish court at all?

Next >> Luke 23:1-25